Expressed Breast Milk Storage Guidelines and Tips

Expressed Breast Milk Storage Guidelines

Everything you need to know about expressed breast milk storage guidelines.

You have likely arrived at this article because you have questions about expressed breast milk storage guidelines. 

So stick around till the end of the post because I will be sharing helpful tips about expressed breast milk storage guidelines.

In this article, you will learn:

  • how to properly store your expressed breast milk to prevent the risk of contamination,
  • and the important things to remember about breast milk storage guidelines.

First of all, it is necessary to clarify that the storage times of breast milk are not cumulative and that this information relates to milk for a healthy baby.

Let’s get started!

Breast milk contains everything you need for your baby. It covers all its needs, whether in terms of vitamins, proteins, sugars, fats, mineral salts, and trace elements.

All in the right quantities. In short, it is the main element for an ideal diet for your child.

If you have chosen to express your milk for different reasons; whether you go back to work, or school, you can express to make breast milk supply.

However, storage precautions must be observed to avoid any risk of contamination.

This article will give you all the tips to best maintain your milk and expressed breast milk storage guidelines.

Expressed Breast Milk Storage Guidelines and Tips

Expressed Breast Milk Storage Guidelines and Tips

1- Expressed breast milk guidelines for storage temperature

Expressed breast milk guidelines for storage temperature

It is quite possible to store breast milk either at room temperature, in the refrigerator or in the freezer depending on how long you want to keep it. 

Whichever storage method you choose, take good care of both washing your hands thoroughly and washing your breast pump and the container in which you will store your breast milk.

For short term storage

You can absolutely keep your breast milk at room temperature, provided of course, give it to your child within the following hours:

  • 77°F (25°C) or colder- 3 to 4 hours ideal at room temperature 

Any bottle started but not finished within one hour after the start of its consumption must be discarded.

Once the bottle has been brought to the mouth, there is a transfer of bacteria that contaminate the milk.

And putting the bottle in the refrigerator does not prevent the development of bacteria.

For medium and long term storage

If you need to keep your breast milk longer, it is essential to limit bacterial growth, by choosing either the refrigerator or the freezer. According to CDC:  You can store your breast milk:

  • 40°F (4°C)- In the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 
  • 0°F (-18°C) or colder – In the freezer for about 6 months is best; up to 12 months is acceptable. Although freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely, recommended storage times are important to follow for the best quality.

It is therefore strongly advised to keep your milk at room temperature for 4 hours and then freeze it for 6 months.

Furthermore, these maximum retention periods are valid for home use.

Hospitals have much more stringent requirements of their own to limit any risk of contamination.

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2- The fridge

For short-term storage, it is possible to place your expressed breast milk in the refrigerator in plastic bags dedicated to storage (the Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags, for example)

If you want to keep your breast milk for a relatively short time – less than 8 days – you can store it in the coldest part of your refrigerator.

Avoid having your breast milk in the door of your refrigerator because it is the part which undergoes the most temperature variations.

3- The freezer

The freezer - breast milk storage guidelines

For mothers who have to be absent or has to go back to work, freezing is the ideal solution for making a stock of breast milk.

Take into account the type of device you have to evaluate the maximum shelf life:

– freezer (compartment located at the top of a refrigerator, intended to store frozen products),

– combined fridge-freezer or independent freezer.

Note, however, that milk can be stored in the best of cases (freezer separate from the refrigerator), only 6 months.

Expressed Breast Milk Storage Guidelines and Tips

4- Label the containers properly

Remember to properly label your containers to make a rollover and give your child the oldest milk reserves.

The trick is therefore to reserve a special container for your breast milk and arrange the milk you have just drawn behind the one you previously have frozen.

Be sure to fill the containers only two-thirds to avoid the explosion of milk during its crystallization and remember to freeze your milk in small quantities to avoid waste.

In this sense, breast milk ice cube trays can be an excellent storage container.

5- Thaw frozen breast milk properly

If want to know how to defrost breast milk properly, then keep reading for more tips.

Above all, do not use the microwave to defrost your breast milk.

Why can’t you put breast milk in the microwave?

According to Dr. Geetika:

“We do not recommend microwaving expressed breast milk because if you do that, the heat is not circulated homogenously, leaving patches of hot and cold milk. And hence, there are high chances that the child might get hurt, as feeding hot breast milk can lead to burns.”

Thaw breast milk in the refrigerator

The best way to thaw breast milk is to take out the desired amount of milk if you are using ice or the storage container.

And place it in the refrigerator without heating it. It can be kept in the refrigerator overnight or for approximately 12 hours. From there, you can store thawed breast milk in your refrigerator for up to 24 hours. After that, the milk might be more apt to grow bacteria. 

Thaw breast milk in a bottle warmer or with warm water

According to

You may thaw frozen breast milk directly from the freezer by placing it under warm running water, in a warm water bath, or in a bottle warmer.”

Remember to keep the water warm or hot to avoid burning your baby. And once the milk has been thawed, remember that it should be used within two hours.  

6- Transporting expressed breastmilk

If you need to transport your expressed breast milk, know that it is possible, there are some rules to follow.

Expressed breastmilk can travel:

  • in an insulated container like an esky or cooler bag with a freezer brick
  • either frozen or fresh – if the milk has thawed, use it within four hours and don’t refreeze it.

Place the labeled breastmilk in the fridge as soon as you arrive or in the freezer if it’s still frozen.

Important Things to Remember About Breast Milk Storage Guidelines

Important Things to Remember About Breast Milk Storage Guidelines

7. Wash equipment and your hands always.

Always be sure to wash any equipment that comes into contact with your expressed breast milk to avoid the appearance of bacteria:

  • breast pump utensils,
  • storage containers,
  • baby bottles, etc.

And wash your hands well before handling the milk.

8. Glass or plastic containers

Use glass or plastic containers or freezer bags specifically dedicated to storing breast milk.

For these small sachets, do not be tempted to reuse them: throw them away once they have been used once!

9. Freeze your milk in volumes of 60 to 120 ml:

Thawing will be easier and you will avoid wastage if your baby does not drink all of his bottles. Milk cannot be stored if it has already been thawed.

10. Make it a habit of proper labeling

Once you have drawn your milk, make a habit of always writing the current date on the storage container. And add your baby’s first name if it is kept with other children to avoid any confusion.

11. Always use the oldest milk

Always use the oldest milk (depending on the date you have entered) to guarantee a good conservation rate.

To do this, establish a set in your storage, for example by placing each new container behind the previous one.

12. Do not mix

Be careful not to mix your freshly drawn milk with the refrigerated one. The mixture of hot and cold can develop bacteria.

13. Limit waste

If you use a plastic bag, make sure to expel the air inside by rolling gently from the top of the bag to the bottom before filling it with milk. – To limit waste, prefer small formats such as breast milk ice cube trays.

Final Thoughts About Expressed Breast Milk Storage Guidelines

Hey, amazing momma! You’ve learned a lot today about expressed breast milk storage guidelines.

You’ve learned the six main tips about expressed breast milk storage guidelines and the seven important things to remember about breast milk storage guidelines.

Need more advice about breastfeeding and breast milk storage guidelines? Then please consult your healthcare provider or a lactation consultant near you. 

As always, it is your health care provider who can best advise you on everything about breastfeeding. 

Do not forget to consult your healthcare provider or lactation consultant for any type of doubt or problem related to breastfeeding or breast milk storage guidelines.

Having a lactation consultant near you who observe and make recommendations can be helpful in any possible frustrating situation.

If you want to learn more about breastfeeding without leaving at the comfort of your home. I highly recommend this online breastfeeding class provided by a certified lactation consultant. 

Lastly, For additional breastfeeding information, please consult a lactation consultant near you or call Breastfeeding CDC at 800-232-4636

Expressed Breast Milk Storage Guidelines Web References:


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