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The essentials of breast milk storage

by komzinski
3 mins read
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Some mothers store their breast milk to have it with them on the go or so that other family members can help feed the baby. Before you put it in the fridge or freezer, here’s everything you need to know about breast milk storage.

Can you store breast milk at room temperature?

Safely storing breast milk helps make sure your baby gets the nutrients they need and prevents harmful bacteria from forming. When you’re lactating, the temperature of your breast milk is about the same as your body, around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius.

It’s safe for your baby to drink freshly expressed breast milk at this temperature, directly from your breast.

If you have excess breast milk, you can store it at room temperature for up to four hours. The room temperature is around 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celcius) or colder. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before handling breast milk, and use a clean container that you can close or seal.

How long can breast milk last in the fridge?

In a sealed container, breast milk will keep longer in the fridge than at room temperature. You can safely store breast milk in the refrigerator for up to four days.

If you want breast milk storage in the fridge, it can be useful to label each container with the date and time the milk was expressed. You can use waterproof labels and store the containers sequentially. This makes it easy to know how fresh the milk in each container is.

Pro tip: the back of your fridge typically maintains the most stable temperature.

To warm up stored breast milk, put the sealed container in a bowl of lukewarm water. Warmed milk is safe to drink within two hours of being reheated.

How to store breast milk in a freezer

If you want to store your breast milk for longer than a few days, it’s important to know how to do breast milk storage in the freezer and how long breast milk lasts in the freezer.

Can you freeze breast milk?

Freezers are usually set around 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celcius) or colder, which is why they’re perfect at keeping food from spoiling, and that includes your breast milk! Breast milk will last longer in the freezer than in the fridge because the environment is too cold for harmful bacteria to survive.

How to freeze breast milk

  • Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling breast milk. If you’re using a breast pump, clean the containers, tubes, and mechanisms in between each use.
  •  Store breast milk in freezer-safe containers that you can securely seal or close.
  • Fill each container with one serving of breast milk (two to four ounces) to avoid wasting unused milk. Be sure to leave some space at the top of the container, because breast milk expands when it freezes.
  • Write the date that the milk was expressed on your containers using waterproof labels.

 

How long can breast milk stay in the freezer?

Frozen breast milk should be used within six months for maximum quality and freshness, but it’s safe for your baby for up to 12 months.

To thaw frozen breast milk, move the frozen container into the refrigerator the night before you intend to use it. If you need the breast milk sooner, you can put the container into a bowl of warm water or under warm running water. It’s best not to use boiling water or the microwave because this can destroy nutrients or potentially burn your baby’s mouth. Once it’s been thawed, breast milk shouldn’t be refrozen.

What is the best way to store breast milk?

Breast milk storage can give new moms more flexibility, and babies can drink breast milk even if their mom isn’t around. Assuming that your breast milk isn’t contaminated in other ways, the safest and freshest milk is when it’s straight from the breast. But as long as you follow the hygiene and storage guidelines listed above, your breast milk can be stored at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer.

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