Breastmilk Storage Guidelines

Super quick and easy list of how to store your precious expressed breastmilk.
(This guideline assumes your baby is a healthy full term infant.)

 

Fresh Expressed Breastmilk:

  • Room Temp from 66-77 degrees
  • up to 4 hours
  • once frozen breastmilk is thawed in the refrigerator, can be left at room temp for up to 2 hours.

Refrigerator:

  • 39 degrees or colder
  • up to 3 days
  • once frozen breastmilk is thawed in the refrigerator, can be left in fridge for up to 24 hours.

Freezer:

  • 0 degrees or colder
  • up to 6 months
  • once thawed, DO NOT RE-FREEZE

Tips and tricks:

  • Use your pump flange as a funnel to pour breastmilk into the freezer bag! Helps prevent spills.
  • Store expressed breastmilk in breastmilk storage bags safe for the freezer.
  • Store 2-3 ounces in a bag at a time. If you freeze in smaller amounts it will thaw faster. Also helps slow things down so caregivers don’t over feed baby.
  • You can combine milk from other pumping sessions to milk stored in the fridge, just make sure they are cooled to the same temp before combining.
  • Separation in your milk is totally normal. Swirl don’t shake to combine your milk again.
  • Store breastmilk as far back in the fridge or freezer as possible, where the temp tends to stay consistent. Temperature can vary a bit with the fridge/freezer door opening and closing.
  • Do Not heat breastmilk in the microwave. You can:
    • Thaw in the refrigerator
    • Swirl freezer bag or bottle under running warm water
    • Set freezer bag or bottle in a bowl of warm water
  •  Once frozen breastmilk is thawed do not re-freeze. If you have a long power outage, as long as there is still some frozen milk in the bag (think slushy consistency) then you can still refreeze, if thawed completely then do not re-freeze.
  • You can re-use the breastmilk if baby did not finish the bottle a the first feeding, general guidelines say to use within 1-2 hours. The ABM Clinical Protocol #8 Human milk storage information for home use for full-term infants states “Once an infant begins drinking expressed human milk, some bacterial contamination occurs in the milk from the infant’s mouth. The length of time the milk can be kept at room temperature once the infant has partially fed from the cup or bottle would theoretically depend on the initial bacterial load in the milk, how long the milk has been thawed, and the ambient temperature. There has been insufficient research done to provide recommendations in this regard. However, based on related evidence thus far, it seems reasonable to discard the remaining milk within 1-2 hours after the infant is finished feeding. To avoid wasting or discarding unfed milk, mothers may consider storing milk in a variety of increments such as 15, 30, or 60 mL.”1
  1. ABM Clinical Protocol #8 Human milk storage information for home use for full-term infants https://abm.memberclicks.net/assets/DOCUMENTS/PROTOCOLS/8-human-milk-storage-protocol-english.pdf

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