Whether you're making a beeline for work or taking off for a night out with
friends, most new mothers at some point need a break from breastfeeding.
Welcome to the world of breast pumps!
Nursing mothers and caregivers of breastfed babies and children will ensure
the protection and consistency of expressed breast milk for the baby's well
being by following proper storage and preparation techniques.
So, are you ready to master the art of breast milk storage?
If this is your first-time pumping, you might be wondering when you should
If your baby is gaining weight well and you don’t anticipate separation
then wait until breastfeeding is well established, usually around
6 weeks for most moms.
Some moms may need to return to work earlier and want to build a stockpile
of milk and can start a couple weeks before their return.
Storage of breast milk
First thing first: Ensure all equipment is sterilized
before you start. Wash your hands before handling expressed milk.
Best to keep the milk in the back of the freezer . If you pump at work make
sure you have a cooler with ice packs.
Breast milk that is not touched, is safe for up
to 4 hours after pumping at room temperature (up to 77°F).
Breast milk that has been touched can stay out for 1 or 2 hours only.
Milk can be refrigerated for four days.
If you aren't going to use refrigerated breast milk within four days of
breastfeeding, ice it immediately after pumping. You can use frozen milk
for up to six months longer!
You can keep pumped breast milk in the freezer for up to 12 months. However
optimal is 6 months.
After pumping, you can store breastmilk in an insulated cooler bag with ice
packs for up to 24 hours if traveling. Breast milk should be used right
away, stored in the refrigerator, or frozen as soon as you get home.
Which method of storing breast milk is the most
Breast milk is superior to the formula for your baby;
however, freshly expressed breast milk is preferable to refrigerated, and
refrigerated is preferable to frozen. This is since freshly
expressed milk has superior bacteria-fighting qualities and is richer in
enzymes, vitamins, and fat than refrigerated or frozen milk.
What is the best way to thaw frozen breast milk?
The refrigerator overnight is the best way to thaw
frozen breast milk. You may also place the bottle or bag in a tub of warm
water or keep it under running water.
It is important to remember that heating or boiling breast milk in the
microwave is not healthy. These methods can result in the loss of
nutritional properties of breast milk as well as uneven heating, making it
unsafe for your baby to drink. Once frozen breast milk has been
thawed, it can be refrigerated and used within 24 hours.
Can I mix freshly expressed breast milk with milk that has already
You can mix freshly expressed breast milk with refrigerated or frozen milk.
However, before incorporating freshly pumped breast milk into already
cooled or frozen milk, completely cool it in the refrigerator or a cooler
with ice packs. If you mix warm breast milk with frozen breast milk, the
frozen milk will partly thaw.
How to know whether you shouldn't use stored breast
If you know what rotting milk smells like, you’ll certainly understand what
rotten breast milk smells like. If you're still not convinced, give it a
taste. . If it's bitter, it is likely not good to use.
Here are some helpful tips on breast milk storage:
Label the breast milk with date you pumped
Freeze in small quantities (2 ounces) or whatever you will give the
baby on one feeding. Don’t waste this “ liquid gold”!
Leave some space on top (an inch should work) when you freeze and
liquids expand when frozen.
Breastfeeding has many health benefits for your baby. At some point you
will be away from your baby and not always available for feeding.
Follow proper storage and preparation technique for this “liquid gold” so
get the best of breast milk when you need to bottle feed!
As always contact MaternalWell text support for any general questions. If
you have a more personal need our lactation consultants are available for
1-to-1 virtual consults.