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Mar 10 2011

How to Ship Frozen Breast Milk

By at 1:28 pm

When my daughter was just 8 months old, I had to go down to Florida for work. I thought of weaning her, but I had already overcome so many difficulties with nursing–I couldn’t eat dairy, soy, or nuts or anything that came in contact with them and I was on a low carb, pre-diabetic diet; so, basically, I couldn’t eat. Even so, I wanted to keep nursing for my daughter’s sake.

So, I had a decision to make about my time in Florida: pump and dump (which is like throwing away liquid gold), bring home cool milk (which is also equivalent to throwing the milk away because you can’t freeze after refrigerating for a few days) or ship the milk frozen. I decided to inquire about the latter

I thought that if I just googled “ship frozen breast milk” I would find the solution; I was wrong. I couldn’t find anything. So, I emailed the Human Milk Banking Association of North America and asked how their donors ship breast milk. They were kind enough to answer my questions and provided some advice. I will tell you now that it is pretty involved and requires getting your hands on some dry ice, a FedEx guy, and preparing for some pretty hefty shipping costs.

1. Freezer. When you make a hotel reservation, be sure ask for a freezer so that you can immediately freeze the breast milk after you pump.

2. Dry Ice. Find a dry ice supplier near where you are staying (you can Google that) and arrange for a supplier to deliver dry ice to your hotel room along with a Styrofoam cooler and a box that the cooler can be shipped in. Pack the frozen milk in the Styrofoam cooler (make sure that there isn’t too much room or else your breast milk may break, like some of mine did due to the intense cold that makes the frozen milk brittle).

3. FedEx. Then, print out a special label from the FedEx website for the shipment of dry ice and arrange for the shipment to be sent overnight. Stick on the FedEx labels, arrange for a pick up (tell them that it will be a “dry ice” pick up), and hope that it gets to your house.

My milk arrived on my doorstep shortly after I did.

4. $$$. As for the cost: I paid approximately $55 for the dry ice (including delivery to my hotel, the Styrofoam cooler and box and a tip) and $170 for the overnight shipping. Hopefully you are employed by a generous company like mine that offers to pay for these costs, which should be covered if you are a traveling, nursing mom. And speaking of expense, before the conference I didn’t approach my boss about paying for my frozen milk shipment expenses (I was going to ask him after the conference, when I could demonstrate that I had the budget for it) but it turns out that the dry ice delivery person called when I was walking back to the hotel after a business lunch and my boss saw me approach this random guy, give him money and take a huge box from him. To ward off any suspicions, I explained to my boss what I was doing. He helped me carry the box to my hotel room and assured me that the company would pay for everything–timing was perfect! He even thanked me profusely, the last night of the conference, for coming.

My ordeal wasn’t easy (especially pumping nonstop for three days, and pumping in the airport, between conference sessions and excusing myself, with my backpack, from business dinners) but I’m glad that I succeeded.

I hope that I have saved at least one person some time and energy researching this issue so that you can actually spend more time with your kid(s)!

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