Given the modern hectic lifestyle, the need to express and store breast milk has become a necessity. If you are a new mom, and especially a working mom, then you know breastfeeding is no less than a challenge. It may so happen that, many a time when you are willing to feed, the baby might not be in a mood to be breastfed. And other times when he is hungry, you may not be around to feed him. To overcome this situation, many moms consider using a breast pump to express and store milk. Here is a complete guide on how to store breast milk.
Storing breast milk
Breast milk storage depends on how soon you want to use it. It can be stored at room temperature, in refrigerators and freezers, depending on the duration you want to store it for. It is important to make sure that breast milk does not go bad or lose the health benefits that it provides. The best practice is to always put the date and time on the container in which you are going to store the milk. Labeling with time helps others to feed the baby when the mom is away, otherwise, they wouldn’t know which one to feed first. Without labeling, you also wouldn’t know which milk to thaw first.
How long can breast milk be stored?
At room temperature: Freshly pumped milk can stay fresh at room temperature for about 6 hours. However, using the milk within 4 hours is recommended
Refrigerator: Freshly expressed milk can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 5 days in clean conditions. However, it is advised to use the milk within 3 days.
Deep Freezers: Freshly pumped milk can be stored at the back of the freezer for about 12 months. It is advisable to use the milk within 6 months of storage.
Insulated Cooler: Pumped milk can be stored in an insulated cooler with ice packs up to 1 day.
Type of container
There are two ways to store breast milk – bags or bottles. Most mothers specifically choose plastic or glass bottles, or sterile, sealable bags. Do not use ordinary plastic bags, or cow milk bags to store breast milk. There are special milk storage bags and baby bottles available to store breast milk. Just make sure that whatever container you use, it should be BPA free and safe for storing food.
Quantity of milk for storage
It is recommended that mothers only store the amount of milk that they are going to need in one feeding session. Especially when you are freezing milk, it doesn’t make sense to thaw a large quantity of milk as you can’t refreeze breast milk once it has been thawed.
Freezing breast milk
- Breast milk needs to be frozen as soon as it is expressed and stored around -18 degrees Celsius.
- There are some breast milk storage bags that are specially designed for freezing and can be stored flat. If you want to opt for containers, then glass offers the best protection as it is the least absorbent.
- Do not fill your container to the top as breast milk tends to expand. This can cause the bottles to burst and the milk bags to tear.
- Never leave the breast milk uncovered. If you are using a bag to store milk, then close the seal completely. In case you are using a bottle, then use a one-piece screw or cap for the best seal.
- Store milk at the back of the refrigerator as this will minimize contact with the outside temperatures.
Thawing breast milk
To thaw frozen breast milk, the best way is to leave it in the refrigerator for 12 hours. This can be best done overnight. Keep a few pointers in mind while thawing frozen milk.
- Always avoid leaving the breast milk out at room temperature to thaw. For faster thawing, you can place the frozen bag under hot water.
- Never re-freeze milk that has been already thawed. Also never place the frozen milk bag on a stove or in the microwave as a means to thaw.
- It’s best to check the label and first use the oldest milk to thaw. This way you won’t be wasting any milk.
Storing breast milk at work
Breast milk storage depends on how soon you want to use it. It is stored at room temperature, in refrigerators and freezers, depending on the duration you want to store it for. It is important to make sure that breast milk does not go bad or lose the health benefits that it provides. Always put date and time on the container in which you store the milk. Without labeling, you wouldn’t know which one to thaw first. Labeling with time also helps people to feed the baby when the mom is away, otherwise, they wouldn’t know which one to feed first.
Signs breast milk has spoiled
- Always smell the milk before feeding it to the baby. If the milk smells particularly bad, then avoid feeding it to the baby.
- Always make sure you label the milk storage bag so that it doesn’t go waste.
Breast milk is healthier than baby food formulas. Storing the milk will help you keep your milk supply up and will feed the baby even when you are not around. Lastly, keep checking the date regularly on any stored milk you have. Throw away milk which has crossed its expiration date. Also if any milk smells and gives off a sour odor even if it hasn’t expired, it’s best to throw it away.