Breastfeeding

How to safely store your breast milk

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When pumping and storing your breast milk it is really important to follow the guidelines for breast milk storage. This will ensure that your milk is stored properly and that the milk will always be safe for your baby. It’s important to understand that the storage, handling and use of your breast milk is very different from infant formula, and never to treat it the same way.

The storage guidelines that I am about to go over with you are for healthy, full term babies. If your baby is sick, preterm or hospitalized please speak with your baby’s health care provider for their recommendations.

The less that you do to your breast milk, whether its cooling or warming it, the better. Fresh expressed breast milk is best for your baby so if you have pumped milk stored at room temperature and you are going to need to feed it to your baby, just use that first.

For fresh pumped milk you can keep it out at room temperatures below 72 degrees Fahrenheit for about 6-10 hours. At temperatures between 72 and 79 degrees for about 4 hours, but always air on the side of safety and assume that the room may be a bit warmer than you think.

Fresh pumped milk can then be stored in the refrigerator for up to 8 days. If you do not use it within that time, you can than freeze it in the coldest part of your freezer, usually in the back, for 3-4 months and in a deep freezer for up to 12 months. All of these storage times can be use consecutively, meaning that if you have your fresh milk out at room temperature for several hours, it can then be moved into the refrigerator for several days, and if still unused can then be transferred into the freezer for several months. This will prevent waste and preserve the milk for future use.

The guidelines I just described were for fresh expressed milk only. If you are defrosting frozen breast milk the times will be different. Thawed breast milk can stay in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours and at room temperature for up to 4 hours. Once you have defrosted your breast milk you cannot re-freeze it.

For storage while at work, bring a cooler with frozen packs in it and store your milk in there. This will be the best way to transport your milk home with you at the end of the day.

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