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Storing Expressed Milk

How To Store Expressed Milk

  • Breast milk should be stored in sterile plastic containers or in small, sterile plastic bags specially designed for storing breast milk
  • Containers should be labelled with the date when the milk was expressed so you can use the oldest breast milk first
  • If you intend to freeze the milk only fill the container ¾ full as the milk will expand when frozen
  • Freshly expressed breast milk can sit at room temperature (26°C or lower) in a closed container for 6 – 8 hours. However, if a refrigerator is available its best to store breast milk there.

How Long Can Breast Milk Be Stored In The Fridge?

  • Expressed breast milk should be stored at the back of the refrigerator where it is the coldest (4°C or lower)
  • Refrigerated milk should be used within 3-5 days.

How Long Can Breast Milk Be Stored In The Freezer?

The length of storage time depends on your freezer:

  • Freezer Compartments (inside refrigerator) – 2 weeks
  • Freezer Section (separate door to refrigerator) – 3 months
  • Deep Freezer (-18°C or lower) – 6-12 months
  • Make sure you cool freshly expressed breast milk in the refrigerator before putting it in the freezer.

Reheating/Thawing Expressed Milk

  • Frozen expressed breast milk may be thawed in the refrigerator where it can stay for up to 24 hours or in a container of warm (not hot) water
  • It should not be defrosted or heated in a microwave oven because that can cause the milk to be heated unevenly
  • Warm the milk by running under warm water or placing it in a container of warm water until it reaches body temperature (around 37°C)
  • Thawed breast milk must be warmed as above and used within 4 hours. It must not be refrozen
  • If breast milk is left standing you might notice the milk separating. Just shake the bottle gently to remix it.

Once your baby has begun feeding on the milk, discard any that might be left over.

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