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How To Store Breast Milk: Store, Freeze & More

How To Store Breast Milk: Store, Freeze & More

Apria Editorial |

Breast milk is the optimal source of nutrients for newborns and infants. It has a virtually perfect balance of vitamins, protein, and fat – everything your baby needs for healthy growth and development in an easy-to-digest formulation. Breast milk contains antibodies that assist in the defense against viruses and infections. Furthermore, infants who are solely breastfed for the first six months, without the use of formula, have been shown to:

  • Have reduced chances of developing asthma or allergies
  • Result in fewer ear infections, respiratory ailments, and episodes of diarrhea
  • Reduced hospitalizations and medical visits
  • Improved IQ scores in later life
  • Increase physical intimacy, skin-to-skin contact, and eye contact that all contribute to bonding
  • Prevent SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)
  • Reduced the risk of diabetes, obesity, and some cancers, but further study is required

    Aside from this, there are several benefits for breastfeeding mothers as well. Because breastfeeding increases calorie expenditure, it can speed up the rate at which pregnancy weight is lost. Breastfeeding also generates the hormone oxytocin, which facilitates uterine recovery, and reduces uterine bleeding. Breastfeeding has even been shown to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.

    With this host of benefits, the case for breastfeeding is strong, but in today's fast-paced world, with new moms juggling work, daycare, and household responsibilities, there is little time to spare. This is why ApriaHome provides helpful guidance on breastmilk expression and storage. Follow these breast milk storage guidelines and tips to feed your baby safely, whether you are at home or on the go,

    Breast Milk Storage Guidelines

    Once you start breastfeeding, you will inevitably return to work, and continue with your daily responsibilities and activities. This means breast milk expression becomes an important part of your daily routine, making it vital to ensure that you know how to store your expressed breast milk correctly.

    The most important thing to remember: Always use soap and water to clean your hands before expressing or handling breast milk. Inspect the pump and tubing for any dust, mold, or contaminants, and thoroughly clean and sterilize equipment after use.

    The expressed milk should be stored in clean, sealed:

    • Food-grade glass containers
    • Specially designed storage bottles
    • Specialized plastic bags
    • Plastic containers that don't feature the chemical compound bisphenol A (BPA) ‒ Look out for the recycle symbol #7

      Breast milk should not be kept in plastic bags or bottle liners intended for everyday usage.

      Pumped Breast Milk

      When storing breast milk in the fridge, place storage containers at the back of the refrigerator where temperatures are the coldest. If you cannot access a refrigerator right away, keep the milk in an insulated cooler with ice packs until you can put it in a fridge.

      Label each container with the expression date using waterproof labels and ink. If you're storing breast milk for a daycare facility, label it with your baby’s name.

      • Fill individual containers with enough expressed milk for a single feeding.

      Approximately 2 to 4 ounces; adjust as needed.

      • Remember to store smaller portions for unforeseen circumstances or delays

      Approximately 1 to 4 ounces; adjust as needed.

      NB: Breast milk expands as it freezes, so don't overfill bags/containers.

      Recommended breast milk storage times:

      • Room Temperature: Store fresh expressed breast milk at room temperature for 4 - 6 hours, depending on the heat. In hot weather, it's best to refrigerate or use as soon as possible.
      • Cold Storage: Expressed breast milk can only be kept for one day in an enclosed cooler with ice packs.
      • Refrigerator: Store freshly expressed breast milk at the back of the refrigerator for up to four days.
      • Freezer Storage: Freshly expressed milk can be stored for up to 12 months in a freezer. However, it is advised not to store it for more than 6 months.

        Thawed Breast Milk

        Breast milk is a delicate balance of minerals and healthy compounds. It is important to manage defrosting correctly to ensure breast milk is safe for consumption.

        • Do not thaw frozen breast milk using hot water or by microwave. This can deteriorate the nutrient content and cause hot spots.
        • Frozen breast milk can be gradually defrosted overnight in the refrigerator. Alternatively, immerse the storage container in warm water - maximum temperature 37°C/99°F).
        • Frozen breast milk can be refrigerated for 24 hours after being thawed or left at room temperature for up to two hours.
        • Breast milk that has been thawed and left out of the fridge should be used within two hours or discarded.
        • Once breast milk has been thawed, it should never be frozen a second time.

            Leftover Breast Milk From A Feeding

            If you have half or a quarter of a bottle left over after feeding your baby, put it in the fridge and administer it again at the next feeding, do not store it beyond that because bacteria from the infant's lips might enter the bottle, causing contamination.

            Leftover breast milk from feedings should be used within 2 hours or discarded to prevent contamination.

            If your baby regularly leaves a specific quantity of milk behind, reduce portion sizes to reduce waste and allow you to save your milk for future feedings.

            Tips For Storing Breast Milk

            How To Store Breast Milk At Work

            Milk should be stored in the refrigerator's center compartment, away from the door, and far enough inside to minimize temperature fluctuations caused by opening and closing the door. Alternatively, make use of a small cooler with ice packs (about 15 degrees Celsius) for short-term storage.

            Remember to label storage containers clearly and investigate your work freezer's reliability and operational capacity before storing milk there.

            How To Store Breast Milk While Traveling

            When traveling, expressed breast milk can be kept in an insulated cooling container with ice packs for up to 24 hours and frozen or utilized as soon as you arrive at your destination. It is always advisable to use pre-sterilized, sealable containers manufactured specifically for storing breast milk.

            Breast Milk Storage FAQ

            We've answered some of the most frequently asked questions about breast milk storage according to lactation consultants around the world:

            • How long is breast milk good for after feeding?

                If your baby does not finish the bottle, the remaining breast milk should be utilized or discarded after 2 hours.

                • How do I know if breast milk is expired?

                  Spoiled breast milk can be characterized by a soapy, metallic, fishy, sour, or rancid fragrance or taste in the milk after it has been stored. Additionally, spoiled milk doesn't mix when swirled. These changes indicate that the milk is no longer safe for the infant.

                  It's important to date and label milk containers before storage.

                  • Can babies drink cold breast milk?

                    While breastfed infants will get breast milk at body temperature, formula-fed or bottle-fed babies can consume the contents slightly warmed, at room temperature, or even cold direct from the fridge, depending on their preference.

                    • Can I mix breast milk from two different days?

                      Combining newly expressed breast milk with previously cooled or frozen milk is not recommended as it might rewarm the earlier stored milk. Cooling recently extracted milk to the same temperature before combining is better.

                      • How long is breast milk good for after thawing?

                        Use the milk within 24 hours after thawing. Do not refreeze any leftover thawed breast milk.

                        • How many times can I warm up breast milk?

                          Breast milk can be reheated safely, but only once. Reheating destroys the beneficial bacteria and minerals contained in breast milk.

                          • Can I reuse breast milk storage bags?

                            Breast milk storage bags can be sterilized and reused, saving time and money. Breast milk bags using Ziplock technology are leak resistant and can be frozen, defrosted, and sterilized multiple times.

                            • How to thaw frozen breast milk in storage bags?

                              The oldest milk should always be defrosted first. Gradually warm the frozen milk bag by immersing it in a bowl of warm water.

                              • How many breast milk storage bags do I need?

                                The average milk expression is 30 ounces a day, which means you'd need at least six bags per day and a few extra bags to account for leaks.

                                Storage Solutions For Freshly Expressed Breast Milk With ApriaHome

                                Breastfeeding is an important part of a new baby's development and a mother's first steps into motherhood. While it is a sentimental experience, it also becomes a part of your daily routine, even as you return to work, travel, and manage a household.

                                This is why ApriaHome has curated the finest breast milk expression and storage supplies ‒ all from the convenience of our online medical supply platform.

                                Get Started With the ApriaHome Expressed Breast Milk Storage Kit:

                                  Browse our breast milk storage range for nationwide delivery from the comfort of your own home. Looking for something specific? Our helpful agents are available on call from 8:00 am - 10:00 pm EST daily on 888-362-4112. So get in touch today, and let us help you get the most out of each day.

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