Many women choose to breastfeed their babies for an extended period of time. Chances are, if you do, you’ll find yourself pumping breast milk at some point. It’s funny, but I always had a hard time pouring breast milk down the sink drain… it wasn’t just a waste, it was personal. So what do you do with breast milk when you pump and don’t use it right away? If you are planning to use the milk within 4-24 hours you can store it in a bottle (see guidelines below). If you plan to freeze it, just about every bottle manufacturer sells breast milk storage bags that are made expressly (pun intended) for this purpose. Make sure that you seal the bag well before putting it in the refrigerator or freezer.
Here are some simple breast milk storage guidelines to follow for storing your freshly expressed breast milk:
At Room Temperature: Up to 6 hours at 66-72 degrees F
In an insulated pack with ice packs: Up to 24 hours
In the refrigerator: 5-8 days at 32-39 degrees F
In the freezer compartment of your refrigerator: 3-6 months
In a deep freezer: 6-12 months
To thaw frozen breastmilk, run warm (not hot) water over the bag until the milk has thawed. Once breast milk is thawed it must be used immediately or it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. It cannot be stored in the refrigerator or the freezer again.
For more posts on breastfeeding, check the Breastfeeding 101 archives!