Breast milk storage

Breast milk is the most nutritive food available to the baby. Breast milk is important not only for the physical, social, and neurological development of the baby but also for the prevention of infection and allergic diseases. Hence breast milk expression and storage is the best option for working mothers. Following are the guidelines for breast milk storage.

Breast milk storage
No milk substitute is superior to breast milk.

Before expressing or pumping out breast milk:

  • Wash your hand with soap and water. If not available use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • Breast milk can be expressed with a hand or pump.
  • Always check if the pump is clean or not. If not, replace or properly wash the equipment as per instruction provided with the equipment.

Storage temperature and shelf life:

  • Freshly expressed breast milk should be stored in storage bags or a clean food-grade (glass, plastic, or steel) container with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Breast milk can be kept at room temperature (25o C or colder) for up to 6 hours.
  • In an insulated cooler bag with frozen ice packs, breast milk can keep for up to 24 hours.
  • Breast milk can be kept in the back of the refrigerator (4o C) for up to 4 days.
  • And in the freezer breast milk can be kept for about 6 months.

Storage tips:

  • The breast milk container should be labeled with the date and time it was expressed.
  • Do not store breast milk in the door of the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Store breast milk in small amounts of 2 to 4 ounces (or the amount that will be offered at one feeding) to avoid wasting breast milk.
  • Leave about an inch of space at the top of the container while freezing because breast milk expands as it freezes.

Thawing of stored breast milk:

  • Over time, the quality of breast milk can decrease, hence always thaw the oldest breast milk first. Remember ‘first in, first out’.
  • There are several ways to thaw your breast milk:
    1. Keeping in the refrigerator overnight.
    2. Putting the container in a bowl of lukewarm water.
    3. Holding the container under running lukewarm water.
  • Never thaw or heat breast milk in a microwave. It can not only decrease the nutrient value of breast milk but also can burn a baby’s mouth.
  • Use breast milk within 24 hours of thawing, if kept in the refrigerator(chamber other than freezer) for thawing.
  • Breast milk should be used within two hours of bringing it to room temperature.
  • Never refreeze breast milk once it has been thawed.

Feeding tip:

  • Breast milk does not need to be warmed. It can be served at room temperature.
  • If warmed under lukewarm running water or by putting in a container of lukewarm water
    • Keep the container sealed while warming.
    • Test the temperature of the breast milk before feeding it to your baby by putting a few drops on your wrist. It should feel warm, not hot.
  • Swirl the breast milk to mix the fat, which may have separated.
  • If your baby did not finish the bottle, the leftover breast milk can still be used within 2 hours after the baby is finished feeding. After 2 hours, leftover breast milk should be discarded.
  • Breast milk should be fed to the baby with a spoon / paladai.
  • Avoid feeding with a bottle as this could lead to serious illness.

Related links:
  1. Guideline for breast milk storage (CDC).
  2. Breast milks storage flyer.

1 thought on “Breast milk storage”

  1. Pingback: Breastfeeding Guide - Shivhare’s Clinic

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

× Whatsapp..