How to Store Breastmilk

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It is hard work looking after a newborn baby.  One minute they’re blissfully asleep, the next they’ve done a huge poop equivalent to their own bodyweight only to then have worked up a huge appetite. What a rollercoaster indeed!

Despite the little bubba keeping you on your toes, staying organized is paramount, especially for a breastfeeding mama!

For a first-time mum, we’ve got some tips and tricks to help store your breast milk. Whether it be in a milk mini fridge or the freezer – we’ve got you covered!

Storing Breastmilk in the Fridge

Not all mums decide to go exclusive with breastfeeding until the baby is born.

You might think about keeping your expressed milk in the fridge until you can think about how to store your breastmilk for a longer term in the freezer. 

Remember to keep your expressed bottles in the back of the refrigerator, and the temperature is kept at 4 degrees.

best mini fridge for breast milk

Combining Breastmilk on The Same Day

It is perfectly acceptable to top up your milk supply over the course of the day, as long as you keep your breastmilk in a clean and sterile container in the fridge. Your hands must be clean and must only be expressing for your own baby to use in your own home.

This method of topping up your milk as you go along is great, as long as the baby is healthy and full-term.

We would not recommend mixing breastmilk collected over split days though, as there is a risk of contamination.

Expressed Breastmilk Left at Room Temperature

Although it is preferable to keep your liquid goods in the fridge, you can also leave your milk out.

Freshly pumped breastmilk can stay out on the counter for up to four hours, provided that it is stored in a clean and sterilized container or bottle. Any longer than this should be disposed of down the sink.

Re-Using Counter Breast Milk

However, if the baby has finished their feed, and you still have some of that counter-top breastmilk left, you can use it again within two hours of feeding. If you surpass this timeframe, the nutrients are broken down and rendered ineffective for your baby and could make them ill. 

Pre-mature babies, however, wouldn’t benefit from this method of re-using expressed milk because of the possible bacteria buildup and their inability to absorb the nutrients.

Guidelines for Storing Breastmilk and Expiration

You might look at your breastmilk in the fridge and be a little alarmed by the separation of what looks like water on top of a thick liquid.

Don’t worry; it hasn’t gone ‘off’ that quickly if you are keeping the bottle away from the door bins and at the back. This is just the cream sitting at the bottom. Give it a little shake before serving it up to your little bundle of happiness.

Be careful not to shake it vigorously because all the nutrients will break down, and your baby will lose out on the goodness. 

When using freshly expressed milk from the fridge, it’s best to keep a note of each bottle of when you expressed it because it should be consumed within four days. You begin to lose the vitamin C in the milk the longer you leave it in the fridge.

Baby Brain

If you’ve forgotten to label the date on your expressed bottle, it would be best to give it a sniff and taste. If the milk tastes salty, then it’s gone bad. 

However, if in doubt, throw it out!

Breastmilk has an expiration date of 6 months in the freezer, so it’s best to keep older milk at the top of the pile.

Breastmilk to Store

Ideally, you should cool your freshly pumped breastmilk down as soon as possible using ice packs and should aim to store around two to four ounces per bottle or milk bag. 

Storing Breastmilk in The Freezer

Careful not to fill your bottles up to the top or overfill the milk bags. Milk expands once it’s defrosted, and it could lead to leakages or the bag bursting, depending on its quality. 

Thawing Breastmilk

To ensure that the milk is effectively defrosted, it would be best to let it sit in the fridge rather than setting it on the counter to thaw at room temperature. 

This ensures the protein has not broken down and the risk of bacteria is minimized. Thawed milk should be used within 24 hours to retain the goodness.

Breastmilk Storage Types

When it comes to storing your breastmilk, always ensure that they are in Bpa-free bottles, bags, and containers that are not hard to find on the market.

Milk Bags

Milk bags are great for mamas who have little to no room in their freezer. Dedicate an area in the freezer to lay your bags flat. Once they have frozen over, you can easily prop them up to increase storage space.

Storage Bottles

These are great if things are moving a little too fast. With adapters, you can store breastmilk directly into bottles that can be easily frozen. This reduces the hassle of transferring into milk bags. 

The downside to this is that you will need considerable freezer space to be worthwhile.

Containers

The taste of breastmilk tends to change once it’s been frozen and then thawed. Keeping your milk pouches in a container could minimize outside smells being absorbed. 

Final Thoughts

There is a lot to think about how to store breastmilk. Like everything, there are limitations to storage. 

Remember the 4×4 rule, and you shouldn’t get too lost. Breastmilk in the fridge is good for 4 days, and expressed milk out on the counter is good for up to 4 hours. Labeling every milk container is important, so you use the oldest milk first. 

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