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Breast Milk Storage 101

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We all hear the amazing health benefits of breast milk for newborns. Not only does it provide impossible-to-find nutrients for your child’s growth and development, breastfeeding can save you money and help you lose the extra baby weight! If you are going through the motions of breastfeeding and pumping, you do not want to lose a drop of your hard work! Here are a few tips for proper storage of breast milk.

First step: Wash your hands before expressing breast milk!

When storing breast milk, containers should be clean and dry. Hot, soapy water or a dishwasher may be used to clean containers. Also, specially designed plastic bags for breast milk storage can be used.

Always note the date of milk expression on the container before storing. Milk can be stored at room temperature (for up to 8 hours after freshly expressed), in the refrigerator (for 3-5 days), or in the freezer (for 3-6 months in freezer section with separate door). If you have a freezer compartment within your refrigerator (some of the smaller “mini fridges” have this) milk can be stored up to 2 weeks there.

It is perfectly fine to store breast milk in a refrigerator/freezer with other food items (even if your significant other or family members get a little freaked out). When storing, place the container in the middle or back of the fridge/freezer, not on the door.

When freezing milk, fill containers in serving sizes of 2 and 4 ounces to prevent waste. Also, it is important to leave room at top for expansion. (Have you ever wanted to quickly chill a water bottle in the freezer and totally forget, of course, until you open the freezer door and find a bulging frozen bottle?) Avoid that by not filling containers to the brim!

For thawing breast milk, either place container in the refrigerator for gradual thawing or place under warm water for faster thawing. Never boil or microwave to thaw milk.

If breast milk was thawed in the refrigerator, it can stay fresh for up to 24 hours. When thawed with warm water, milk can be refrigerated and used within 4 hours.

When serving, shake the bottle and test the temperature on the inside of your wrist.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.