Expressed breast milk should be stored in a bag or container designed especially for this purpose. Be sure to always label the container with the date and time of expression and have enough for one feed in each container. If you are bringing expressed milk to the hospital for your baby that has been admitted, make sure to label the milk with your baby’s full name, the date and time of expression, and the amount in each container. Breast milk may be expressed by hand or with a manual or automatic breast pump.
Always wash your hands with soap before expressing breast milk. If you will be storing the milk in a bottle, make sure it has been sterilized. You may find it easier to express breast milk in a quiet, private space. Organize expressed breast milk so that the oldest milk is used first.
- Room temperature (27-32 degrees Celsius) for 3-4 hours.
- Room temperature (16-26 degrees Celsius) for 4-8 hours.
- Cooler containing an ice pack (15 degrees Celsius) for up to 24 hours.
- Main compartment of your refrigerator (0-4 degrees Celsius) for 3-5 days. It should be stored in the very back of the refrigerator and never in the door.
- Freezer section of a one-door refrigerator (-15 degrees Celsius) for up to 2 weeks.
- Separate freezer section of a refrigerator (-18 degrees Celsius) for 3-6 months.
- Standalone freezer/deep freezer (-20 degrees Celsius) for 6-12 months.
Thawing Frozen Breast Milk
Put the frozen breast milk in the refrigerator one night before using it so it can thaw. The thawed milk can be stored for 24 hours in the refrigerator. Thawed milk should never be refrozen.
Thawed milk that has been put into a bottle, but not used, can be stored in the refrigerator for 4 hours and in room temperature for just 1 hour.
To warm breast milk, never place it in the microwaves or in very hot water. Simply place the container of milk in a bowl or mug of warm water or run it under warm water from the tap.
- To meet the standards for storing breast milk appropriately, use a thermometer to check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer.
- If possible, store breast milk away from other produce.
- Do not use breast milk that appears curdled or spoiled, that smells unpleasant, or that tastes sour.