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How to Store Breastmilk

Breastmilk is very precious that some call it “white blood”. Thus, it is very important to know how to store breastmilk properly to maximize its nutritional and anti-infective qualities. It is interesting to note that human milk has anti-bacterial properties that helps make it stay fresh. The following basic guidelines will help make sure that your baby gets fresh milk everyday.

Preparation:

  1. Wash hands with soap and water before expressing or handling milk to avoid contamination.
  2. Make sure that your breast pumps are clean.
  3. Prepare milk storage bags or bottles.
  4. Store the breastmilk right after it was expressed.

Milk Storage Guidelines

  1. Do not store breastmilk in plastic bags or bottles designed for general purpose.
  2. Store the breastmilk in a sterilized BPA-free container (link). BPA free bottles are identified as number 3 or 7 in the recycling symbol. You may also use Polypropylene bottles which is marked with number 5 in the recycling symbol or PP. You may also use sterilized milk storage bags (link).
  3. If you will use milk storage bags, place them in a tightly sealed plastic food container.
  4. Use waterproof labels to indicate the date the breastmilk was expressed. If you are storing in a child care facility, include the name of your baby.
  5. Store the most recently expressed milk at the back, away from the sides, to ensure that temperature is mostly constant.
  6. Do not fill the containers to the brim because the expressed milk expands as it freezes. Squeeze out the air on top of milk storage bags.
  7. Fill each bag or bottle with just enough milk for one feeding. It is not recommended to return thawed breast milk to the fridge.
WhereTime IdealAcceptable
At room temperature4 hours6 hours
Insulated cooler bag24 hours24 hours
In a refrigerator72 hours8 days
Freezer2 weeks

How to Warm the Milk

Frozen Milk – Allow it to cool inside the refrigerator overnight or thaw in cool running water. Refrigerated Milk – Some babies may drink milk straight from the refrigerator. If your baby needs it warm, thaw the milk with warm running water. You may also place it in a pan of hot water. Do not thaw breastmilk over the stove. Do not use microwave to thaw breastmilk. Too much heat will make it lose some of its nutritional value.
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