Anyone who's ever worked tirelessly to build up a supply of breast milk knows exactly how valuable that stash is. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, power outages have caused some moms to panic about the possibility of losing their stockpiled milk -- including Eliza Stein, who grabbed only the essentials when she hiked down 35 pitch-black floors of her Chelsea apartment building the night her family lost electricity: her 11-week-old son, some clothes and baby gear, and 50 bags of frozen breast milk.
Luckily, Stein was able to store her milk in a friend's freezer, and she's not the only one relying on help to make sure no milk gets wasted. All over New York and New Jersey, moms are working together via Facebook and other means, all in order to find those who are willing to store this valuable commodity until the lights come back on.
One New Jersey mom has spent the last month freezing milk in anticipation of her maternity leave coming to an end. Once her power went out, she had to rely on ice and the occasional use of a generator to keep the milk cold, saying it didn't matter if all the other food in her fridge/freezer went bad:
I don’t care about anything else except for the breast milk.
According to the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, breast milk that’s gone slushy is still considered frozen. Breast milk placed in a full freezer should remain frozen for 48 hours, even without power, and some research suggests that even thawed milk that’s been unrefrigerated for up to eight hours can be safely refrozen.
One mom has shared some tips on preserving breast milk after the storm, advising that bags of milk should be grouped together in larger containers (to minimize leaking), and that you should avoid opening the freezer during an outage because it can speed up the thaw process.
As for moms who are either in danger of losing their milk or having extra milk to share, a Facebook page maintained by the New Jersey chapter of Human Milk for Human Babies is doing an amazing job of connecting people. The page lists names and contact information for those who are in need of donated milk, and also those who have power and freezer space to share. (Check out this awesome photo from one generous mom.)
If you or someone you know is affected by the storm and worried about losing breast milk, be sure to check out the HM4HB page -- there are so many people who are ready and willing to make a difference. (Like Mr. Rogers said, look for the helpers.)
Had you heard about this effort to save breast milk in NYC and NJ?
Image via Rachel Coleman Finch/Flickr