There are so many things to think about when it comes to hurricane preparedness. But as mothers, the first thing we think about is the safety and needs of our most vulnerable children. The good news is breastfeeding makes life must less stressful because you are not dependent on having formula and clean water when resources are low and not readily available. But here are tips to help:
Mothers who pump need to think about ways to get milk out without electricity. Many pumps come with the option of a battery pack to power the pump. Make sure you have this along with plenty of batteries. Also depending on the brand pump, many do not suction as strongly when battery operated as they do on electricity. So it is important to massage your breast before pumping and compress your breast as you pump to drain the breast adequately.
If you are not able to operate your pump, hand expression is going to be crucial. Remember, women have been expressing breastmilk far before breast pumps became a thing. It is totally possible to express milk with your hands at much, if not more, effectively than the pump. Practice makes perfect, so begin as soon as you can. You fumble the first couple of times. However the more you do hand expression the easier it becomes, and the learning curve is small. Here is a video to help:
2. Staying hydrated
On average breastfeeding mothers consume about 13 cups of water per day compared to the 8 or 9 cups for non-lactating women. Having plenty of water to drink is important to maintain your level of milk production. Also, make sure you have food to eat. The calories a breastfeeding mother needs depends on many things, including weight and metabolism. But 1,500 calories a day is considered baseline for a lactating mother. Try to have food and snacks available and don’t neglect to eat.
3. Storing breastmilk
Storing breastmilk is tricky when there is a power outage. The most effective way to do this is with dry ice in an insulated cooler. If you do not have dry ice you may also use a high quality camping or fishing cooler like a Yeti that maintains cold temperatures for an extended period of time.
Remember, the fuller the cooler or freezer is, the longer it will maintain a cold temperature. If you have plenty space in your freezer or cooler try freezing water bottles in advance to take up the extra space. Do not fill up a cooler with bottes or bags of expressed breastmilk with ice chips. The small pieces of ice will thaw quicker than the frozen milk causing the milk to thaw more quickly.
Open the cooler and freezer as little as possible. Every time it is opened warm air will raise the temperature.
But, like all storms, this too shall pass. Just wait it out and enjoy your breastfeeding moments.