Hey breastfeeding and pumping mamas! So by now you already know that producing milk is literally a full-time job, but how do you keep up with storing it safely? While breastmilk is definitely more lasting than formula when it comes to staying fresh, there are still a few rules to the milk storage game you should know about.
The great thing about breast milk is that even when expressed, it maintains most of its healthy benefits. So even if you are feeding on demand (which you should be exclusively for the first 3 weeks if possible) there will be times after that where you may need to bottle feed your baby. The most common reasons are going back to work, going to outside appointments, giving your partner a chance to feed the baby and sleep.
Oh and there's also just being over it because let's be real - breastfeeding is freaking hard work!!!
Whatever your reason to add in the bottle, maintaining good hygienic practices during the breastfeeding phase is crucial to making sure your stored breastmilk is safe for your baby.
When it comes to which type of bottles to use (that's in a separate blog) glass is always my number one preference for bottles. Evenflo and Lansinoh are mr two favorite glass brands and they come in a variety of sizes and nipple flows. They are available on Amazon, Walmart and Target. You can always find my favorite breastfeeding items here if you need a reference.
If you decide to use plastic bottles, always use BPA free bottles. Be sure to properly sanitize your materials per instruction and make sure your storage bags are built to go in the freezer! My favorite breastfeeding storage system is Kiinde, you can get a free starter pack on their website.
So, now let’s talk about storage methods.
First, let's just state the obvious:
- Freshly expressed breast milk is preferable to refrigerated breast milk.
- Refrigerated breast milk is preferable to frozen breast milk.
Remember that freshly expressed breast milk has the best bacteria-fighting properties and is higher in antioxidants, healthy fats and vitamins than refrigerated milk or frozen milk. Especially in the first few weeks! That is why feeding your baby on the demand the first 3 weeks is always preferred if your lifestyle allows it. Get baby all that good stuff while it's fresh!
How long can I store my freshly expressed breast milk?
Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored at room temperature, in the refrigerator, or in the freezer depending on how soon you want to use it.
Here are the guidelines for storage and temperature:
Room temperature - 16° C to 25° C / 60 to 77° F - for up to 4-6 hours
Refrigerator - 4° C / 39° F or colder - for up 3-5 days
Freezer - 18° 0° or colder - for up to 6 months (back of the freezer!)
Deep Freezer - below 0° - for up to 12 months
DO NOT STORE MILK IN THE FRIDGE OR FREEZER DOOR. BACK OF THE FRIDGE IS BEST!
*****ALWAYS LABEL YOU MILK WITH THE DATE IT WAS EXPRESSED!*****
Side note: If your milk "goes bad" and isn't fresh enough to drink, don't throw it out! You can still use it for baths, creams, and many other things :-)