In case you didn't already know, our bodies can do amazing things. For a new mom, producing breast milk is one of the most amazing things--the stuff is truly liquid gold because its packed with many amazing properties and has huge nutritional benefits for your baby. You've also probably heard the phrase, "Don't cry over spilled milk," but if you've been fortunate enough to breastfeed, you know how precious breast milk is, and that you don't want to waste a single drop. So what happens if you find yourself having more breast milk than your baby can eat and your freezer is already full? Let me share with my own experience--what I wish I would've known as a new mom, and what creative things you can do with that extra liquid gold!
Why Do You Have Extra Breast Milk?
You have an over supply: This one is the most common reason--some women have extra luck and produce a large amount of milk. It usually happens most during the first few months after the baby is born, and can also happen if you're pumping in addition to breastfeeding your baby.
Your baby developed an intolerance to the food you were eating: What you eat can have an affect on your baby's tummy. If you've found the milk you've been producing has caused a problem for your baby, you may have a surplus of pumped milk that you can no longer use. Thankfully, what may affect your baby's tummy may not affect another's, so that milk doesn't have to go to waste.
Your freezer stash of milk is near expiration: While you can keep breast milk frozen for up to 12 months (6 months is best), it doesn't last forever. This may leave you with a surplus of milk that you can't use up in time.
You thawed too much milk: I definitely did this with my first baby--I'd store too much breastmilk in one bag, rather than dividing it up, or the baby wasn't as hungry as I thought, so I was left with too much.
Baby didn't finish their bottle: If your baby didn't finish all their milk when drinking from a bottle, don't worry--you can still use it!
What Can You Do with All That Extra Breast Milk?
Whether it's a lot or just a little, there are some pretty awesome things you can do with that milk, and I'm excited to share these with you!
- Donate it: There are thousands of mothers who need breast milk for their babies, some women can't produce enough on their own or their baby can't latch on. Often babies in the NICU need donated breast milk because the mother's milk hasn't come in yet. Whatever the reason, donated milk is always so appreciated. There are moms you may know personally or through groups on social media who you can contact to take your extra milk. (Note, the FDA recommends against taking breast milk and donors that haven't been screened.) Or you can donate to a milk bank. Donated milk from a milk bank is very safe since it is tested for illness that could be passed through the milk, and the containers holding the milk are also tested for any harmful bacteria.
Use it medically: I continue to be amazed by this, and I have seen proof of breast milk helping my kids medically. Whether it was with reducing scarring or redness on a scratch, helping out with a clogged tear duct, or even helping with a mild case of pink eye! Of course, talk to your doctor about any questions you may have regarding your child's health, but I've seen it help with these and many issues.
Make breast milk jewelry: This is seriously the cutest thing to do with your breastmilk! You can send off a small amount of breast milk to a business or buy a kit and make it yourself! From rings, bracelets, and necklaces, this is a great way to remember your nursing/feeding journey between you and your little one
Make food/popsicles with it: I loved doing this with my kids. I used my extra breast milk with baby food. I would mix it in with their food to help make it taste more familiar and to provide the right consistency. I would also use this to make teething popsicles. My babies loved this as it provided a great way of relief and also gave them a yummy snack!
Bath time: Pour your extra breast milk in your baby's bath. This has been said to help your child's skin, soothing things like eczema, diaper rash, cradle cap, and more!
Other Uses for Your Extra Breast Milk
- Make soap or lotion
- Rub it on stretch marks
- Smooth it on a sunburn
- Treat bug bites with it
- Put it on sore nipples
- Always write a date on your breast milk bag. This will allow you to determine what you can safely use it for such as in feeding, milk bath, etc.
- Collect every ounce. I have found that when breastfeeding and I am having a letdown, it's a good idea to have a milk collector near so that no amount of breastmilk is wasted.
- Consult this breast milk storage and preparing guide to make sure you're keeping your breast milk hygienic and safe.
Isn't it mind blowing to know of all the possibilities for your extra breastmilk?! There are truly so many benefits to breast milk because of its extraordinary properties! I have loved helping other mothers by donating it, using it to help with clogged tear ducts, and many other things!
Every ounce of breast milk can be used, so don't toss it. Even if it's expired it can be used for something other than drinking! It's magic. Most importantly, remember to enjoy this breast milk journey and to also not be hard on yourself if you can't produce or choose not to give breast milk.
If you want to use breast milk to help with any of the following above, I promise there will be a mom or place who would gladly donate! Cheers to mama's milk!
For more information on breastfeeding, check out our Complete Guide to Breastfeeding!