Best Methods for Breastmilk Storage

April 25, 2018

Are you pumping and storing breastmilk? That’s great! It ensures your baby has access to the highest-quality food on the planet, even when you’re not around.

Pumping and storing breastmilk also gives your partner, other family members, friends and other caregivers a special way to bond with your baby – because we all love the hands that feed us, right?

Breastmilk is Perishable so Attentiveness Pays Off

The thing is, all that perfect breast-produced food – complete with probiotics, antibodies, fat, hydration, nutrients, etc. – is also perishable. So paying attention to storage details pays off, ensuring your baby is always drinking fresh, unspoiled and uncontaminated boob juice.

Here are the ways you can ensure that breastmilk contains all the good stuff – and none of the bad stuff.

Always sterilize the equipment

This isn’t something to overlook. Fortunately, the majority of bottles and breast pump equipment are dishwasher safe these days, and that makes it easy to sanitize them. However, read all of the instructions and cleansing/sterilization instructions that come with the pump, bottles and other related equipment to be safe.

This does not mean everything has to be boiled; in most cases, a through wash with warm/hot water and soap – and a thorough dry – are all that’s required.

Use clean hands and breast milk containers

Do wash your hands before pumping, and make sure the containers you’re pumping into are clean as well.

Adhere to the CDC Breastmilk Storage Guidelines

Beeki / Pixabay

The CDC has a quick and easy Storage Duration for Fresh Human Milk…Chart with all the information you need. We recommend printing it out and hanging it on the fridge when you need to refresh your memory.

The basic guidelines for storing milk, based on fresh, refrigerated or frozen are:

  • Room temperature: Breastmilk that is covered immediately and stored on a countertop or table will remain good for between 6 – 8 hours, after which it should be thrown out.
  • Refrigerated: Sealed, refrigerated breastmilk should last for about 5-days, after which it should be dumped. Make an effort to store it towards the back of the fridge, rather than in the door, so the temperature remains cooler and more consistent.
  • Insulated cooler bag: If you move refrigerated/frozen milk into an insulated cooler bag with freeze packs, it should be good for 24-hours. Minimize the amount of times the bag is open and keep milk containers in direct contact with freezer packs.
  • Refrigerator freezer compartment: Breastmilk stored in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator will remain good for 3- to 6-months. Again, back of the freezer provides the most consistent temperatures.
  • Upright or chest-style deep freeze: If you want a breastmilk supply that will last for longer than 6-months, invest in a chest- or upright deep freezer, where it will remain good for 6- to 12-months.

It’s not easy to throw away breast milk past its deadline – but it’s worth it to know it’s not contaminated. And, we have plenty of patients who take “just about to expire” breastmilk and use it baking and dinner recipes that call for milk. Why not?

Tips for Healthy Breastmilk Thawing

Just a few more tips if you use frozen breastmilk:

  • It’s best when thawed in the fridge and then brought to room temperature, or quick-thawed in a warm water bath.
  • Never microwave breastmilk as this can create dangerous “hot pockets” that burn baby’s mouth, and there is always a chance that microwaving changes the molecular make-up of the milk.
  • Never re-freeze breastmilk that has been thawed, switch it into the fridge or throw it out.
  • Never add fresh breastmilk to frozen breast milk

Interested in working with a women’s-only obstetrician to prioritizes your well-being and breastfeeding success? Schedule an appointment with Women’s Healthcare Associates.