If you’ve gotten the hang of breastfeeding and are now using a breast pump because you’re going back to work, looking to build up a reserve, or even looking for a little more flexibility, I’m sure you have some questions regarding how to properly store your breast milk. Don’t worry because you are not alone; below are a few rules that every mom should follow for safely storing breast milk.

*Note: the following guidelines might differ for premature, sick or hospitalized infants.

Collection

Before expressing or handling any breast milk it is very important to wash your hands with soap and water. All of the collecting bottles and breast pump parts that touch your breasts should also be washed thoroughly with hot, soapy water or in a dishwasher and then left out on a clean towel to air dry.

Depending on what you plan to do with the breast milk, you can collect and/or store your breast milk in collection bottles, preferably BPA-free, or in disposable bags designed specifically for breast milk. Now we have that out of the way let’s explore the rules for storing breast milk.

Storage

As you begin to store your breast milk you might notice that your milk varies in color, consistency and scent. This is completely normal and mainly depends on your diet. For milk that is going to be consumed within a day you have two options.

  1. Room Temperature – Freshly expressed breast milk can be kept at room temperature for 4-6 hours.
  2. Insulated Cooler – If you are not able to use the milk in that 4-6 hour frame or the room is especially toasty, simply transfer your milk to an insulated cooler, fridge or freezer.  If you plan to be on-the-go with your baby or if they are at daycare and you do not have access to a fridge, storing your breast milk in an insulated cooler with icepacks is the best solution.  Freshly expressed breast milk can be safely stored like this for up to 24 hours. If the milk is not consumed within the 24 hour time frame it does not have to be discarded; transfer the containers to the fridge or freezer and follow those guidelines.

However, if you are looking to build up a reserve, big or small, the fridge and freezer are your best bets. Regardless of which one you’re using it is imperative to store your milk in the back of the appliance, never in the doors.

  1. Fridge – Your freshly expressed breast milk can be stored in the back of your fridge for 3-8 days.
  2. Freezer – When stored in the back of a standard freezer, your freshly expressed breast milk can save for up to 6 months. If you are looking for longer storage periods it is advised to store in a chest freezer which can give you up to 12 months store time.

This topic extends past these basic rules for storing breast milk to how to properly thaw frozen breast milk, if it is safe to add freshly expressed breast milk to already stored breast milk, and much more.  With all of your responsibilities it might be difficult to remember all of the rules for storing breast milk and because of this Medela created an easy to read chart to help you navigate breast milk storage.

Aeroflow Can Help You Qualify For A Free Pump!

It is never too early to start making breastfeeding decisions, including using a breast pump. Fill out our Qualify Through Insurance form today and let an Aeroflow Breastpump Specialist help you get your breastpump free through insurance and the Affordable Care Act.  We hope these basic rules for storing breast milk have been helpful and we look forward to helping you reach your breastfeeding goals!