Tips On Storing Breast Milk

It is very important to know the ins and outs of storing breast milk. Proper storage can make all the difference in how nutritionally complete and health-boosting the breast milk is for your child.

What Safety Precautions Should I Take?
Be sure to wash your pumping equipment, containers, and your hands with hot, soapy water. You may also want to make sure your breast is clean.

Date your milk before you store it. This will ensure that you give your baby fresh milk and get rid of expired milk.

When Should I Pump My Milk?
Most women's milk is fullest in the morning, so it's a good time to pump. You can shower right before you pump to ensure the cleanliness of your breast.

How Much Should I Pump?
It may be a good idea to pump in smaller amounts, as this means that you'll be providing fresher milk for your baby with the frequent pumping. Two to four ounces is an ideal amount.

What Type of Container Should I Use?
Get a tough plastic or glass container. Make sure that your containers have tight lids to keep your milk fresh. You can also purchase specially designed freezer bags made for human milk. Some have even been specially designed to preserve your breast milk's nutrients. Be sure not to use disposable bottle liners. Lastly, either get containers with a labeling system or buy some tape so you can write down the date and stick it onto the container. Some of the special freezer bags have a place to write the date on the bag and come with plastic seals.

What's the Ideal Storage Temperature?
You have several options depending on where you store the milk.

  • Room temperature: up to ten hours
  • In the refrigerator: up to eight days
  • Freezer within fridge: up to two weeks (temperatures fluctuate when you open and close door)
  • Deep freezer: up to six months

Please note that milk stored at room temperature or in a refrigerator will retain more nutrients than milk stored in a freezer. Again, storing milk in small amounts in the fridge will ensure that all those health-boosting properties of breast milk can still benefit your baby.

How Do I Warm My Milk?
It's time to feed your baby and you're going to use the milk you've stored. If you've put milk in the freezer (or even if it's a little cold after being in the refrigerator), you should thaw your milk by running some warm water over the container. Never microwave your milk and don't put it in a pot to bring to boiling temperature! Before you put it in the bottle, test it for temperature. Shaking the milk before you test its temperature will help mix the cream and milk back together again.

Can I Refreeze Thawed Milk?
While you should never refreeze thawed milk, you can refrigerate it for up to 24 hours after it has been thawed. If you're pumping at work, feel free to store your milk in the workplace fridge; the Center for Disease Control has declared that human milk is not a dangerous body fluid.

Need help breastfeeding? Find more tips in our forum


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