Friday, December 17, 2010

Shipping Breast Milk



Shipping breastmilk can be done safely and easily any time of year. As long as the milk is packed properly, it should be OK for 48 hours in a good cooler. Adding dry ice is extra insurance and a good idea during the warmer months.

Supplies

I have found two websites that sell Styrofoam shipping coolers fitted into cardboard boxes for shipping:


http://www.cameronpackaging.com/
http://www.mrboxonline.com/

To decide which cooler to use for your shipment, I have put together this guide.

Dry Ice

Many grocery stores and ice cream shops will sell dry ice, but it’s best to call first. I have always used this website to search dry ice suppliers by area code:

http://www.dryicedirectory.com/

While it isn't absolutely required that you use dry ice, it is strongly recommended - especially during the warmer months (or if the milk will be traveling to or from a warmer climate). The dry ice is wonderful extra insurance if the package gets delayed or if the cooler breaks open in transit (this can happen if it's packed too tight).

I personally have shipped without dry ice several times with no issues. Here are some guidelines to protect your milk on a shipment with no dry ice:

- You must ship at LEAST 300oz if not using dry ice. Any less will likely melt.

- You must use a cooler that is the appropriate size to make sure there is not much extra air space. You cannot use a cooler that fits 550oz to ship 300oz of milk without dry ice.

- If there is extra space in the cooler (a couple inches or so), pack that air space with newspaper. Any air inside the cooler will warm up much quickly and begin to thaw the milk.

- DO NOT overstuff the cooler. Do not stuff milk in so tight that it stresses the styrofoam. This will almost always result in the cooler cracking open in transit, allowing the milk to thaw much faster. Milk should always be placed in, rather than squeezed in. It's better to leave a few bags of milk behind than to lose all of it to the heat.

- Make sure you are home to receive the package as soon as it arrives. Milk shipped without dry ice should be put into the freezer as soon as possible.



Packing Milk

When shipping breastmilk, it’s important to leave very little extra space in the cooler. If your milk is frozen flat, you can line the bags up in neat rows. Make sure to fill the cooler as much as possible, but don’t fill it so tight that you put stress on the Styrofoam. The air inside the cooler will expand, and the cooler can crack, which will result in partially or completely thawed milk by the time it reaches its destination.




If you have pockets and holes, fill them with crumpled up newspaper (or any kind of paper).

If sent by 2-day shipping, breastmilk should be OK without any dry ice, but it is a good idea if you can get some. If not using any dry ice, ship a minimum of 300oz, or the milk will begin to thaw in transit.

Once the cooler is filled, place the cover securely on top of the cooler and seal up the box with shipping tape.


Sending it Off

Make sure you have worked out ahead of time the shipping details with the mom who will be receiving the milk. Some can arrange for it to be picked up at your home, but the downside in that is that you will usually be given a significant time window.

The moms who have shipped to me brought the cooler right to the UPS store. Once there, they called me on their cell phones (or the store phone) and I paid the shipping bill over the phone with a credit card.

Before requesting 2-day shipping, ask the associate how long it would take the milk to arrive via ground shipping. Depending on how close you are to the receiving mom, it may only take a day or two, and it will be much cheaper to send. Otherwise, it must to overnight or 2-day shipping.
Make sure to ask for a tracking number, just in case.

There! You’ve just shipped off a box full of liquid gold to a baby in need!

34 comments:

  1. When I donated breastmilk I used to ship it in one of those coolers but with crumbled newspaper all around.

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  2. When we were receiving milk from donors faraway we also lined the cooler with a trash bag before putting the milk in to protect against leakage. Also used a product called "techni ice" we got on ebay as a dry ice alternative as we used priority 2 day mail and the USPS will not ship dry ice. Also duct taped the seam on the cooler. We shipped milk from CA to FL this way many times using regular priority mail and never had any issues whatsoever. But definitely have to ship 300+ oz. to make it work.

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  3. So will the milk still be frozen on arrival and able to go back in the freezer?

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  4. Jennie, in my experience, that has always been the case. It's important to remember the main rules:

    - Without dry ice, ship no less than 300oz
    - Minimize the amount of extra air space in the cooler by filling in spaces with crumpled paper
    - Make sure milk is not packed so tight that it stresses the styrofoam
    - Make sure that shipment will take 2 days or less to reach its destination.

    I have had milk shipped for my kids at least 20 times, from all over the country. These guidelines were followed every time. The only exception is that once, the cooler was packed too tight and it split. a few of the bags were about halfway thawed. I used that milk first, and the rest was frozen solid and able to go into the freezer.

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  5. I recently received two shipments of milk in the mail. BOTH arrived with a broken cooler, a soaked box, and a less than happy mail carrier :/
    There were bags that did not leak and still had slush inside. I panicked and threw them in the freezer. Now... To use or not to use?? I'm not sure I can stomach losing it all!
    Also, of all the milk I have ever received, I'm struggling to use a few of the bags because of the color.... It's yellow! Almost orange, like American cheese, even cheddar in some places. Is that normal?? We have used green milk, and blue milk, even some that was a little pink ( my strawberry phase) but never cheddar cheese colored! Any thoughts on that?
    Thanks for your help. With your experience, I thought, who better to start with? Thank you thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've gotten donor milk that was that color. It was fine. I believe it was colostrum.

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    2. If that yellow/orangish milk came from the first week after that mother gave birth, it was milk chuck full of colostrum, and that's *definitely* a good thing for baby :)

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    3. Its called "liquid gold" or colostrum. Def a good thing!

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  6. I'm so sorry about the split coolers! I have had that happen to me a couple times and it's just terrible.

    I have heard from a couple different lactation consultants that as long as the milk is still slushy, it's OK to be re-frozen. I have done this before and it was fine. However, in my opinion, it won't last as long in the freezer as it would have, otherwise. I would use that milk first.

    As for the color of the milk, different things can cause that. If the donor mom was eating lots of yellow or orange foods it could turn the milk yellow or orange. Is her baby a newborn? Early transitional breastmilk (from the first few days after birth) is orange or gold in color because there is a high colostrum content.

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    Replies
    1. How should the cooler be packed when using dry ice? Ice on the bottom?

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  7. What are the suggestions to ship less than 100 oz of milk? I recently gave birth so I've been storing milk in the freezer. We're moving in a couple of weeks from TX to MA. I hate to have to throw it away even at such a small amount. I don't pump unless I have to as I'm running out of room in my freezer and I don't own a deep freezer. My little one doesn't take to bottles so I'm not too concerned with pumping consistantly and she nurses frequently. If it's such a small amount, can I pkg it and take it with me on the plane since it's only 4 hours as oppose to a 24hr period if I ship it overnight? TIA, Blanca

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  8. I've donated over 2000 oz of breastmilk, and I've shipped all over the country. Here is my input:

    - USPS *WILL* ship dry ice. The limit is 5 lbs., but I've never been actually recquired to take it out to have it weighed. I just pick out what feels like 5 lbs. at the store.

    - I invested in a hard-sided cooler. Yes, the moms have to ship it back to me, but when you use parcel post, the cost is less than $5. It's worth it to have the milk secured.

    - I freeze my milk in 2-3 oz increments and freeze it flat. When it's time to ship, I set a brown paper bag inside the cooler- it barely fits inside width/length wise. I then stack the milk tightly inside the cooler, and roll down the top of the bag. I then put my dry ice inside another brown paper bag, hit it with a mallet to smash it into large chunks, and set it on top of the bag with the milk in it. The lid is closed, the cooler gets taped closed, and I'm good to go. The mailing address goes right on the cooler.

    - I generally ship Priority via USPS, but if the location is nearby, UPS can be cheaper. Check your zip code and the arrival zip code to be sure. I can generally ship my cooler with 200 oz of milk for $25 or so.

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  9. I have a question, were moving in a few months and i'm afraid I will have to toss my stash of breastmilk (cry) We live in Hawaii so its no easy to find someone who can actually ship the stuff with quick shipping, and since we have to fly it's not like I can pack it in the car with us all the way to Texas. If you have any advice i'd love it so I don't lose it all especially since my baby will be 11 months and i'm not able to pump and save like I used to do :( katyldf@gmail.com (thanks)

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  10. This comment is for Katy above: you should be able to check-it in as an additional piece of luggage. I know at least 2 people who have done this and we are planning on doing this as well. Most airlines allow dry ice (max 5lbs of dry ice per cooler) in checked baggage, and cooler with 50lbs of milk is treated as an extra piece of luggage. Another option is to try Delta Dash (google it). It is Delta's cargo service and they accept dry ice containers usually deliver in 1-2 days time. Hope this helps.

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  11. Hi, I am interested in using the techni-ice, but for long 36hr flights when I need to come back with my milk from a 2-week business trip (note that dry ice is hard to come by in certain parts of the world).

    Could you advise how much I need to bring back say 52 ounces in a cooler?

    Thanks in advance!

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  12. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.












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  13. Hi, i have been asked to ship 30oz per week to someone and have no idea how to ship a small amount safely? please could someone help?
    thanks

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  14. I probably have about 700oz of milk that I need to have shipped once I'm settled in Florida. What do you recommend for the amount of dry ice? UPS told me that their limit is 3 lbs. I haven't called Fedex or USPS yet.

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  15. Hi everyone im looking for donor milk for my almost 5 month old son n someone who has shipped before or willing to ship since i dont have my own car to travel. You can contact me on facebook or yahoo fb name is amber collins from cassopolis mi and yahoo email is sweetlady3407@yahoo.

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    Replies
    1. Or of course my google account

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    2. Sweetlady, I don't have milk but get my doner milk from a few resources on facebook: Human milk 4 human babies (i choose my local chapter) and then Eats On Feats (again a local chapter). they are great, active resources. You can post to a town near you if your isn't on the list. It has helped me connect with donors frequently. Good luck!

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  16. Hey... You have nice Blog.. Keep follow this excellent work.

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  17. Sweetlady, I can donate you milk if interested, I have too much and moving soon, I wasplaning to take my milk along, but my baby is exc. Bf so I dont need frozen milk yet, I can always build a suply later...I could send you the milk weekly if you want. My baby is 1 month old.

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  18. Hi,
    What would be the recommended way to ship 50 or less oz of milk? Milk placed first in the cooler with dry ice packed on top as a previous post suggested? Thanks!

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  21. I shipped milk last month, for the first time, using this guide. I think the info is great :) However, the package was lost for a week (on dry ice) and barely cool when it arrived. It was a complete loss. I now have around 100 oz to ship to the same mama, and I don't mind saying I'm pretty much terrified to ship again. I'm thinking a styrofoam or hard sided cooler shipped on dry ice, packaged per these instructions, and possibly overnighted? Thoughts? I'd love to get a five day cooler but can only find huge, expensive models.

    ReplyDelete
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