In the wake of Hurricane Harvey last September, I read about a woman who was racing against the clock to get unused breastmilk in the hands of mothers struggling to feed their babies in Texas. A call was put out for women around the country to donate frozen milk that would then be shipped south. Like many mums out there, I emailed the lady to find out how to get my extra breastmilk — more than three gallons of it — shipped from Maine to Texas. As grateful as this woman was, she turned me down because the shipping costs from my part of the country were just too steep.
I tried a few other programs that take breastmilk donations but heard the same thing; Maine is too expensive to ship from. Ultimately, I found other ways to donate to hurricane victims. But I still had all this extra milk, thanks to pumping at work and breastfeeding at home! I didn’t want to give up on all this frozen milk that took me months to pump out (my daughter couldn’t possibly drink it all before it expired), so I went in search of other ways to use my breastmilk. Here’s what I found (and tried) — with great results.
1. Mixing it with my baby girl’s pureed foods
My infant daughter is now old enough to start eating solid foods and so I processed squash, carrots, and peas into purees that I froze in ice cube trays then popped out and stored in a freezer bag. During the puree step, I added breastmilk to boost the protein and nutrients while also thinning her beginner solids out enough to not worry about choking.
2. Adding it to my older children’s smoothies
My older kids, ages 4 and 7, were both breastfed babies so it seemed only natural that they should get some of this golden milk packed with vitamins and minerals mixed with their foods, too. Since they obviously don’t eat pureed baby food, I mixed my milk into their morning smoothies made out of banana and peanut butter.
3. As creamer in my own coffee
I mean, I had to try it out, right? Turns out it tastes a lot like commercial creamer only WAY BETTER! I put about an ounce in my coffee and it was sweet and creamy. My husband tried it, too, and liked it. We won’t be switching to breastmilk as a constant in our morning joe anytime soon, but to use up our supply (and out of curiosity) we gave it a whirl and it was delicious.
4. Making milk baths to soak in
You’ve heard of a milk bath, right? I put around 12 ounces in my hot bath and it was heavenly. It smelled sweet and the lipids in the milk fat did wonders on my skin. I read somewhere that this practice is especially great for sensitive baby skin and scalps and so I put a few ounces in my infant daughter’s bath now, too.
5. Turning it into soap
Ok, full disclosure, I have not actually tried this one out, but I have read multiple accounts online about how easy it is to use human breastmilk to make a luxurious soap. It’s definitely on my to-do list!
6. Curing pink eye and cold sores
When my daughter was a month old, our second grader came home from school with pink eye and gave it to everyone in the house, including the baby. We all went on antibiotics to cure it under the care of our family doctor. She also suggested that I rub some of my breastmilk onto my baby’s eyes to help soothe the itchy burning sensation. It worked so well for her that I used it on my eyes, too.
7. Making frozen milk pops to sooth my teething baby’s sore gums
This wasn’t a huge hit with my daughter, but it definitely did the job of soothing her sore gums. I put breastmilk in a small plastic bowl and popped it in the freezer until it was just frozen enough to mash easily with a fork. Then I scooped it into one of those mesh bags that looks like it is attached to a dummy (you can buy them at the supermarket), put it back in the freezer until the milk was frozen solid. Anytime I saw that my daughter was clearly in pain, I gave her the bag to chew on.
Once I got over the initial weirdness of trying to use up my breastmilk outside of feeding it to my baby via breast or bottle, tricks like these became second nature around here. I still have quite a bit of breastmilk left in my deep freeze and now that I know that there is an infinite way in which to use it up, I’ll be having some fun in my kitchen making sure that none of it goes to waste.