If you are breast-feeding and working again or looking for more flexibility, you may be considering using a breastpump. When you start pumping, it is important to know how to store your milk safely. Follow these instructions for the storage of breast milk.
What type of container should I use to store breast milk?
Wash your hands with water and soap before pumping out or handling breastmilk. Then store the milk in a clean, BPA-free container made of glass or hard plastic. You can also use special plastic bags to collect and store milk.
Breastmilk storage bags, however, are easier to tear, leak and contaminate than hard-sided containers. For extra protection, place the bags in a plastic container with a tightly closed lid.
Do not store breast milk in disposable bottles or plastic bags for general household use.
How does it work best? Store expressed breast milk?
Label each container of waterproof labels and ink with the date you expressed your breast milk. If you keep milk in your baby's care, enter your baby's name on the label. Place the containers on the back of the refrigerator or freezer where the temperature is lowest. If you do not have access to a fridge or freezer, store the milk temporarily in an insulated refrigerator.
Fill individual containers with the milk your baby needs for a feeding. You can start with 2 to 4 ounces (59 to 118 milliliters) and then adjust as needed. Also, keep smaller portions – 30 to 59 milliliters (1 to 2 ounces) – for unexpected situations or delays in regular feeding. Breast milk expands when frozen, so do not fill containers to the brim.
Can I top up stored milk with freshly pressed breast milk?
You can top up chilled or frozen milk that you previously expressed with fresh-squeezed breast milk the same day. However, refrigerate the freshly squeezed breast milk thoroughly in the refrigerator or in an ice-bagged refrigerator before adding it to previously chilled or frozen milk. Do not put warm breast milk in the frozen breast milk, as otherwise the frozen breast milk will partially thaw.
How long is mother's milk?
How long you can safely store breastmilk depends on the method of storage. Observe the following general guidelines for healthy infants:
- Room temperature. Freshly squeezed breast milk can be stored for up to six hours at room temperature. However, use or proper storage within four hours is optimal. If the room is particularly warm, the limit is also four hours.
- Insulated radiator. Fresh-pressed breast milk can be stored in an insulated cooler with an ice pack for up to one day.
- refrigerator.  Freshly squeezed breast milk can be refrigerated for up to five days under clean conditions. However, use or frozen storage within three days is optimal.
- freezer. Freshly squeezed breast milk can be stored for up to 12 months on the back of a freezer. However, using the frozen milk within six months is optimal.
According to research, the longer you spend breastmilk, whether in the refrigerator or in the freezer, the greater the loss of vitamin C in the milk. It is also important to note that breast milk given in newborns does not fully meet the needs of the same baby when it is a few months older. In addition, the storage guidelines for premature babies, sick or infants may differ in the hospital.
How do I thaw frozen breast milk?
Thaw the oldest milk first. Place the frozen container in the fridge at night before using it. You can also warm the milk slightly by placing it under warm running water or in a bowl of warm water.
Do not heat a frozen bottle in the microwave or very quickly on the stove. Some parts of the milk may be too hot and others too cold. Some studies suggest that rapid heating may affect the milk's antibodies.
While further research is needed to see if previously thawed milk can be re-frozen and safely used, many experts recommend discarding thawed milk that is not used within 24 hours.
Does thawed breast milk smell or does it look different than fresh breast milk?
The color of your breast milk may vary depending on your diet. Thawed breast milk also appears to have a different odor or consistency than freshly pressed milk. It is still safe to feed your baby. If your baby refuses the thawed milk, this can shorten the storage time.
Release date: 2009-12-01