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What Did You Do with Your Leftover Breastmilk?

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Ok, so I've realized I have about 200 oz of breast milk in the deep freeze downstairs. Most of it has been there for a year or more, so it's certainly bordering on the "been there too long to drink" stage. Besides, with Emmitt just now weaning, I don't think I want to remind him of how yummy that stuff is. :)

WIth it being more than a year old, I'm also not sure I'm comfortable donating it via something like Milk Share either.

But I don't want to throw it away...

I found this site with directions for making mother's milk soap, which sounds very interesting. She says it won't go rancid, so it will last as long as you keep it dry. Could be a nice way to use up what's left, though it sounds like the ingredients would set me back a pretty penny. (I have no idea what things like Lye cost.) I'll admit it sounds like a lot of work though. Especially for someone with toddlers running around. (lye + toddlers = VERY BAD)

So I'm curious what you guys did with your leftovers? I don't want to eat it, so I don't need recipes for yogurt or butter or bread. Anything else creative you thought up?

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  1. Blogger Rachel | 11:31 AM |  

    I saved mine forever...I even moved it to a new house! Finally when I was trying to fit something in the freezer on a day when Lil was on my nerves I thawed the milk and poured it down the drain. I didn't feel any connection to it anymore and couldn't find a better way to get rid of it.

    Thinking again, though, here are two ideas: 1) Pour it into a garden, tree, or spot outside that has some significance to you or 2) Thaw and feed it to a pet. Both of these are a little odd but I would feel like the milk was nourishing something instead of just being wasted.

    Unfortunately I don't think you can donate it after such a long time. You might be able to find someone on craigslist who would want it, but personally I would not donate breastmilk to anyone I did not know other than through a milk bank.

  2. Blogger Lone Star Ma | 12:03 PM |  

    Never had any left over. I worked so the kids drank what I pumped at daycare. I stopped pumping at a year each and there was only enough leftover to give them a few more days/weeks worth at daycare before they started having cow's milk there and breastmilk only from the source.

  3. Blogger Kathy | 12:42 PM |  

    I don't have any suggestions, just popping in to say that I understand how heartbreaking it is to throw out milk. I had to throw out 88 bags (over 2.5 gallons) of milk that I pumped while my daughter was in the NICU, once we figured out that the reason pumping hurt so much was that I had a raging thrush infection in my milk ducts.

    Everyone agreed that using that milk was a bad idea, but boy, did I miss it when I started having supply problems and had to supplement!

    I took a photo of all the neat rows of frozen bags, and then made hubby pour it all down the drain while I hid upstairs and tried not to cry.

    But now, I can look back on the photo with pride!

  4. Blogger Casey | 2:34 PM |  

    Can you mix it with his whole milk in a small enough proportion that he still gets the benefits of it but he doesn't taste it strongly enough to be reminded of its yumminess?

  5. Blogger Missy | 3:14 PM |  

    I never had any leftover milk, either, but I like the idea of pouring it into the ground outside, rather than down the sink. Something more natural about it...

  6. Blogger Kat | 10:35 PM |  

    Add to smoothies or popsicles for toddlers!

    Add to "get well" protein shakes when anyone in the house is ill.

    Use as a healing salve on a burn or scrap.

    Make soap or lotion.

    Add to a bath for cracked skin in dry winter.

    etcetc

  7. Blogger tanya@motherwearblog | 12:43 AM |  

    How about mixing it into some of the more mushy foods (like sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, etc.)? I like the idea of mixing it in with other milk, too.

    Lye is quite cheap and you can find it at drug/grocery stores in the cleaning section. Very scary to handle, though, because it's so caustic. Even so, I want you to make the soap!

  8. Blogger Anna | 7:43 AM |  

    I would keep some around for home remedies - drops for earaches, add to baths for poison ivy or other rashes, use for diaper rash, etc.

    I probably wouldn't put it in any food I would eat, but I would absolutely add it to the kids food (did that for all three kids once Levi was 12mos and the only breastmilk he got was straight from the tap). I added it to mashed potatoes, oatmeal, baby pastina (Levi's favorite), drinks... whatever I figured the kids would like it in. Especially with the illnesses Emmit has been battling lately, I would probably add it to everything I could!

    I did have some that was really old (well over 12 months) that I decided I probably shouldn't use. Like Rachel, it stayed in my freezer for quite awhile, and then one day it just didn't bother me to go ahead and put it down the drain.

  9. Blogger Heather | 8:54 AM |  

    I am getting ready to send about 50 oz to my sister's BF. Her little one is about 6 weeks younger than mine and she has had to return to work, so she cannot pump as much. Her little guy is in day care and has been getting sick, so I'm giving my extra to them.

    I like the bath idea too!

  10. Blogger Liz | 7:49 PM |  

    Funny, this reminds me of the old Dan Akroyd routine from SNL many many years ago: "It's a dessert topping! It's a floor wax! It's both!"

    The soap idea is great and practical and sentimental - love it.

    Another idea, that's a little weird I guess, would be to create some sort of memory for yourself of your breastmilk - take a photo of the frozen bags and turn it into a frameable image that you could hang as a reminder, or add some to paints and paint a portrait of your child or your breasts or ....? Emmit's not the only one weaning here, y'know? The milk you produced - your body produced - built such a bond between you and your children. Shoot, I'm feeling all sentimental and mushy and grateful to the milk myself now! Anyway, some sort of artsy acknowledgment to the milk that you could keep after the milk's gone might be nice.

  11. Blogger mommymichael | 8:50 PM |  

    i've heard it used as healing remedies. my friend poured little droplets into her son's ear and it made his ear infection better.

    but she's ALSO used it on a skin rash her dog had, and it made that go away...

  12. Anonymous Anonymous | 5:20 AM |  

    After I was no longer able to donate to the HMBANA milk bank, I did a sourdough bread starter, and I feed the starter each week with more milk. I have a ton of milk in the freezer and plan to continue to do so. The bread is wonderful. Other ideas- add it to foods for the kids. I've added it to other bread mixes. I like the mashed potatoes idea.

    I would also save some for home remedies or homemade milkshakes when the kids come down with a fever!

    I tried giving some to my cats but they were not interested.

  13. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 6:28 AM |  

    Just to note, I'm not looking for any ideas that involve injesting or using it as a medication.

    The milk that's down there has been in the freezer too long to be edible any more. I think I could use it for the soap or to fertilize plants, but it's past the point of being useful as a food source.

  14. Blogger Ethel | 1:14 PM |  

    I love the idea of using it in the garden for a special plant. What a beautiful way to preserve that connection in a feminine way without taking up valuable freezer space!

    No advice from me, I couldn't pump more than a day ahead of time despite having oversupply.

    Congrats on weaning!

  15. Anonymous Shylah | 8:42 AM |  

    Making lotion is a great idea, if you're afraid to mess with lye. Camden Grey (www.camdengrey.com) had a Multibase lotion that's ultra-concentrated, and you dilute it down to make body cream, lotion, etc. - the instructions call for water, but I've made it with goat's milk. I don't see any reason why you can't make it with breastmilk, and it's already got preservatives IN the mixture, so you don't have to worry about it going bad. Then you can add essential oils (or not) and use it topically.

  16. Anonymous Anonymous | 2:44 PM |  

    I think you should donate your milk to an organization that will use it to feed malnurished children in africa and other parts of the world. There was a segment on NPR this past fall about a woman who started a non-profit that organizes the collection and shipping of breast milk around the country.

    I would hope that you would take advantage of this very wonderful opportunity and not squander your milk on soap.

  17. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 2:54 PM |  

    Anonymous 16, if you reread my post you'll note I said the milk had been in the freezer for more than a year.

    It's not drinkable anymore. It's got freezer burn. Breast milk is only good in the freezer for around six months. I just didn't get this used.

    I'm familiar with donating milk. I donated 27 gallons to the milk bank here in Columbus.

    I would not donate my milk to the International Breastmilk Project, the program of which you speak. You may want to read a little more information about them to see if you'd like to keep promoting them. They actually only send a very small portion of the milk they collect to africa. The rest is sold to a pharmaceutical company.

    Specifically, you might want to read this post.

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