Storing Your Breast Milk

It pays off to be well informed about storing breast milk. Proper breast milk storage will make all the difference in how healthy and nutritional your breast milk is for your infant.

Safety Precautions
Be sure to wash your pumping equipment, containers and your hands with hot, soapy water. You should also make sure your breast is clean and free of scented moisturizers or perfumes.

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

When to Pump Breast 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.

Pumping the Right Amount
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 for one pumping session.

Suitable Containers for Breast Milk
Glass or hardy, tough plastic containers are ideal for storing breast milk. 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. Be sure not to use disposable bottle liners.

Lastly, 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 breast milk freezer bags have a place to write the date on the bag and come with plastic seals.

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 wonderful health-boosting properties of breast milk can still benefit your baby.

Warming Your Breast Milk
So it’s time to feed your baby and you're ready 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! This will kill the nutrients; also, microwaving human breast milk is dangerous as the ‘hot spots’ can burn your baby’s mouth!

Before you put it in the bottle, test it for temperature. Shake the milk before you test the temperature to help mix the milk and cream 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. Continually freezing and thawing any food negates any nutritional benefits.

Also, 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.

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