As a general rule milk can be stored at room temperature for 4-6 hours, in a refrigerator for up to 8 days, in a refrigerator freezer for up to 3 months and in a deep chest freezer for up to 6 mon or 12 months in a deep freezer. If you are using breast milk storage bags, be sure to get all the air out of the bag before sealing it to prevent freezer burn. Thawed breast milk must be used within 24 hours and must be refrigerated until use. Never refreeze breast milk.
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It’s very important to remember to chill your breastmilk before freezing it. Do NOT stick it directly into the freezer before it’s spent a few hours in the refrigerator.
The kind of storage you use for your milk comes down to how you plan to use it. If it’s stored for occasional use, meaning your baby is almost always getting nourishment straight from the breast, then using the plastic storage bags designed for breastmilk storage is fine. If your baby is generally being nursed from a bottle of expressed milk, as in a daycare situation, you may want to use glass bottles, as the live antibodies in breastmilk tend to stick less to the sides of glass then they do to plastic.
If you pump more in a single day you can add to your supply. If you already have milk from the same day in the freezer you can chill freshly expressed milk and add it directly to the bag that you’ve already frozen – this can only be done for same day expressions.
When warming frozen milk there is one major rule – NEVER put in on the stove or in the microwave! Microwaving destroys the antibodies in human milk and that’s one of the major reasons for breastfeeding in the first place. First thing is to remember to defrost the oldest milk first. Milk in glass bottles is best thawed in a bottle warmer. For milk stored in storage bags take it out of the second storage bag with the written information on it and either run it under warm tap water or place it in a bottle warmer.
Once your milk is warmed to the proper temperature you can pour it into the feeding bottle. Human milk is not homogenized so the fat does separate. NEVER shake human milk – always gently swirl it to mix it.
Milk thawed from the freezer can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours but remember to NEVER reuse milk that has already been in a bottle your baby has sipped off of. If you thaw 6 ounces of milk and pour 4 ounces into a bottle for baby, you can save the other 2 ounces in the refrigerator. But once the bottle has touched your baby’s lips you can only keep that milk for about an hour, due to the bacteria.
Freezing breastmilk kills some of the beneficial antibodies but is still better then formula feeding. Fresh breastmilk, either milk directly from the breast, freshly expressed or refrigerated is best, but frozen breastmmilk is still a safe and better choice for baby.
- Beware breast milk from unknown sources (cbc.ca)
- Health Canada urges caution in sharing breast milk (ctv.ca)
- Breast milk – All Information (umm.edu)
- Breastfeeding vs. Infant Formula (brighthub.com)
- Moms Share Breast Milk on Facebook (newser.com)
- TSA Outrage: Phoenix Airport TSA Breast Milk Harassment Video (nowpublic.com)
- Quebec program matches breast milk donors with recipients (canada.com)
- Preparedness for Families with Infants, by Carla S. (survivalblog.com)
- “Nursing Motherâ€™s Breast Milk Seized by AirportÂ Security” and related posts (blogs.babble.com)
- Moms donate litres of breast milk for gravely ill tot (calgaryherald.com)