Pumping is a terrific method to store breast milk, whether you’re going back to work or just want to have bottles on hand. However, how should breast milk be stored? How safe and nutritious your milk is for your baby depends on the container you use, where you store it, what temperature you keep it at, and how long you keep it.
Breast milk storage is unquestionably a science—but don’t worry, we’ve made it simple. Continue reading to find out how to effectively preserve breast milk for your baby.
When it comes to storing extracted breast milk, there are a variety of options. When choosing your container, think about where you’ll store it (fridge or freezer) and how long you’ll keep it there.To avoid wasting milk, breast milk should be stored in little volumes (2 to 4 ounces) in the following sorts of containers:
- Milk can also be stored in a freezer-safe glass jar, such as a mason canning jar. Before using them for the first time, make sure they’ve been fully disinfected by boiling them in water for 20 minutes and letting them air dry. The jars can be cleaned in hot, soapy water for future use after they have been sterilized.
- Clear hard-sided plastic containers are a fantastic alternative to glass containers for many people. Clear plastic bottles should be used to preserve breast milk. Bottles containing BPA should never be used (avoid bottles with the recycle symbol 7).
- Freezer bags made specifically for storing breast milk: Another option for freezing breast milk is to use storage bags. It’s critical to choose bags made specifically for freezing breast milk that has been expressed. This is the most likely to leak of the three storage options. In addition, if the water level in the bag rises above the seal at the top, your milk may get contaminated.
It’s critical to ensure that the container has a tight seal, regardless of whatever option you choose. Before storing it, make sure the lid or seam (if using a freezer bag) is tightly sealed.
It’s important to know how to keep breast milk whether you’re expressing or pumping it. You may save your milk and have it ready for your kid anytime you need it by storing it. It’s critical to properly preserve milk so that it stays fresh and retains its nutritional and anti-infective properties.
Breast milk can be kept refrigerated, frozen, or even kept at room temperature. Each way of keeping your milk has its own set of criteria, and it’s vital to be aware of them before storing your milk.
The length of time breast milk, when stored in mini milk bottles, can be stored in the refrigerator, varies depending on the type:
Freshly pumped breast milk can be stored for up to four days at the back of the refrigerator (39° F or 4° C) – just don’t forget it’s there.
Breast milk that has been previously frozen can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before being discarded. (That’s not what any mother wants!) So simply take out what you believe your child will require for the day. Breast milk should never be refrozen after it has been thawed.
If there are any leftovers from your baby’s feeding, they must be consumed within two hours.
Place the bottle in a bowl of warm water or run it under warm water to warm up breast milk straight from the fridge. It is not safe to microwave breast milk.
When breast milk is preserved, it naturally separates into two layers: milk and cream. It appears strange, but it’s typical, and swirling it before feeding is harmless.
You can save milk for longer lengths of time if you freeze it. However, you must consider the sort of freezer you have and the location of your milk in the freezer. Frozen milk can be stored for three to four months in a refrigerator freezer compartment with a separate freezer door.
You can only keep frozen milk for up to two weeks if your freezer door is enclosed within your refrigerator area. You can keep extracted breast milk for six months or longer if you keep it in a separate deep freezer.
One thing to consider is the location of the milk containers in your freezer. Breast milk should not be kept in the freezer door rack. When you open and close the freezer door, the milk contained inside is subjected to extreme temperature variations. To reduce temperature swings, store milk in the back of the refrigerator, away from the door.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution here; you’ll have to develop your own system. To avoid wasting milk, several experts suggest storing it in 1-4 oz servings. If you need to defrost a bag containing more milk than you need, you can do so in cold water and save the rest for later. All you’d have to do is utilize it within 24 hours after receiving it.
If your baby is preterm, under three months old, or has a weaker immune system, the CDC recommends washing and sterilizing your bottles and breast pump parts on a daily basis to keep germs and bacteria at bay. With a healthy, older infant, daily sterilization may not be required, but weekly sterilization is recommended.
Sterilization is not required if you use a dishwasher that has hot water and a heated drying cycle. Remember to clean your pump’s outer face and knobs. Wipe down the outside of your tube as well.
Because the inner tube does not come into contact with breast milk, it does not need to be washed; nevertheless, if you observe bacteria development or debris inside the tampon, you should wash it.
If you follow these basic breast milk storage instructions and talk to your physician about any specific concerns or questions you have, you’ll have peace of mind that your baby will be well-fed while you’re at work or relaxing.