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Guidance

Store Breast Milk

Expressed breast milk is the best source of nutrition for your baby when you’re not there.

So how do you store and use your milk safely?

Good hygiene and proper milk storage practices are important for the health and safety of your baby.

Follow the below safety precautions:

  • Wash your hands well with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Use breast milk storage bags or clean milk bottles/containers to store expressed breast milk. Make sure the containers are made of glass or BPA free plastic and have tight fitting lids.
  • Never store breast milk in recipients that are not intended for storing breast milk.

 

Storing breast milk

You can store expressed milk at room temperature, in the fridge, or freezer. It depends on how soon you want to use it.

Follow these guidelines:

 

Breast milk is better for your baby than formula milk.
However, freshly expressed breast milk is preferred over refrigerated milk. That is because freshly expressed milk contains the best bacteria-fighting properties. It is higher in antioxidants, vitamins, and fat than refrigerated or frozen milk.

 

Healthy Tips

  1. If you don’t think you will use freshly expressed breast milk within 4 days, freeze it right away. This will help to protect its quality.
  2. Breast milk can be stored in an insulated cooler with frozen ice packs for up to 24 hours when you are traveling. At your destination, use the milk right away, store it in the refrigerator, or freeze it.
How to Use Freshly Expressed Breast Milk?

Stored breast milk can form into separate layers, with the fat (cream) rising to the top when you store it for too long. Always swirl the bottle gently to mix the milk before feeding your baby.

However, it’s best to avoid stirring/ shaking the bottle vigorously as that can damage some of the milk’s nutritional qualities.

When your baby feeds on expressed breast milk from a cup or bottle, bacteria can transfer from the mouth into the milk. For this reason, you should throw away the leftover milk within 1-2 hours of the feed. We strongly advise mamas to store expressed milk in small amounts to prevent wastage.

How to Store Breast Milk in the Refrigerator?

Refrigerate your breast milk as soon as possible after expressing it:

  • Store your milk in clean containers or storage bags made from BPA free materials.
  • Place these containers in the coldest part of the fridge – at the back, on the shelf above the vegetable compartment.
  • More importantly, avoid keeping these milk storage bags in the fridge door as the temperature is less consistent in that area. The changing temperature can harm milk quality.

Can you mix chilled milk with freshly expressed milk?

According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, combining different milk temperatures does not increase the risk of bacteria in breast milk. It means you can add freshly expressed milk to refrigerated milk whenever required.

What is BPA?
BPA (bisphenol A) is a chemical that is commonly used in most manufactured plastic. Its long-term effects are uncertain. That’s why BPA products are not recommended for food storage.

How to Store Breast Milk in the Freezer?

Milk Storage Safety Tips

  • Make sure that the breast milk storage containers are freezer-safe – some products such as glass bottles may crack at very low temperatures. Spectra breast milk storage bags are ideal for storing frozen breast milk as they are freezer proof, ready-to-use, and easy to label.
  • Don’t fill bottles or bags more than three-quarters full, as breast milk expands during freezing.
  • Store frozen breast milk at the back of the freezer/fridge where the temperature is most consistent.
  • Please keep it away from the walls of self-defrosting freezers.
  • Always label bottles and milk storage bags with quantity and date of storage to track your milk supply better.

Feeding Expressed Breast Milk
Breast milk does not need to be warmed. It can be served at room temperature or cold. Swirl the breast milk to mix the fat, which may have separated.

If you decide to warm the breast milk, here are some tips:

  • Keep the container sealed.
  • Place the sealed container into a bowl of warm water or hold it under warm, but not hot, running water for a few minutes.
  • Test the milk’s temperature before feeding it to your baby by putting a few drops on your wrist
  • Do not heat breast milk directly on the stove or in the microwave.
  • If your baby did not finish the bottle, use the leftover milk within 2 hours after the baby is finished feeding. After 2 hours, leftover breast milk should be discarded.

Freeze your breast milk soon after expressing it.

Store your milk in small portions (less than 60 ml) for easier thawing and minimal wastage. You can combine separately stored milk after defrosting it.


Disclaimer for Premature and Unwell Babies

Please discuss milk storage guidelines with hospital caregivers and specialists if your baby is in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or special care ward. Professional consultation becomes necessary as the doctors recommend stricter storage rules for the baby’s health and safety.

What Next?

To find out some tips and tricks about thawing frozen milk safely read next how to Thaw Frozen Breast Milk

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