If you have to pump and store breast milk for the first time, you probably have an array of questions. You have to balance safety and convenience, so it’s important to know how to best preserve the nutrients and antibodies in milk.
What should I store my breast milk in?
There are three primary types of containers that work for storing breast milk: glass containers, plastic containers and breast milk storage bags. Most moms agree that the storage bags made specifically for breast milk are most convenient because they come in a few different sizes and can be placed in both refrigerator and freezer safely. Make sure that your container is sealed tightly to prevent spoilage, leakage or freezer burn (DiSanto, Joseph; DiSanto, Karin Y. , 2012).
How much should I store in each bag (bottle)?
It is wise to store the amount that you expect your baby to drink during each feeding. If your baby doesn’t drink a consistent amount of milk, store 2 ounces in each bag. Remember that milk expands when frozen, so don’t overfill the storage bag.
How long can I store my breast milk safely?
Here are the guidelines from Dr. Sears:
- Milk can be stored at room temperature (77F) for 4 to 8 hours.
- Refrigerated breast milk is good for 3-8 days. Transfer unused refrigerated milk to the freezer before it is 8 days old and discard all milk that has been stored for longer than 8 days. Never store it in the refrigerator door – make room in the back of the refrigerator instead.
- Breast milk can be stored in the back of the freezer for 3 months. Thaw it for 24 hours before feeding it to your baby. Never refreeze thawed milk. Use thawed milk within 24 hours. Freezing destroys some of the properties of breast milk, and bacteria grows fast what it is thawed (Ask Dr. Sears, 2011).
Be sure to address any concerns with your pediatrician before expressing and storing breast milk.
Ask Dr. Sears. (2011). Storing and Transporting Breast Milk. Retrieved July 9, 2012, from Ask Dr. Sears:
DiSanto, Joseph; DiSanto, Karin Y. . (2012, January). Breastfeeding FAQs: Safely Storing Breast Milk. Retrieved July 10, 2012, from Kids Health: