If you’re breastfeeding and perhaps thinking about doing some expressing, you’ll want to know all about how to store and use the milk you have expressed.
So, you’ve expressed the milk – I’d recommend an electric pump; manual is hard work and totally boring – and now you need to store it. Here’s how to store and use breast milk correctly;
Use a sterilised container, preferably one that is sort of proportionate to the amount of milk your baby will have in a single feed, which can be kept in the fridge or frozen. Milk lasts for:
- 10 hours at room temperature
- 5-8 days in the fridge
- 2 weeks in the ‘freezer container’ (usually used for fruit and veg) in the fridge
- 6 months in the freezer
- 6-12 months in a chest freezer
It’s a good idea to label the containers so that you know exactly when the milk was expressed. And here are some quick tips re storing:
- Milk lasts longer if the fridge/freezer door is opened less, so tore the milk toward the back of the fridge/freezer so it is less affected by the elements when the door is opened.
- Refrigerate/freeze milk asap after expressing; it will last longer.
- Freezing kills some of the live cells and antibodies in human milk and so if you know that you will use the expressed milk within 5-8 days, refrigerate it rather than freezing it (it’s more nutritious this way).
- When refrigerated or frozen, the milk does separate into different layers – foremilk and hindmilk; don’t freak out and ditch the milk, this is normal! Just give it a good shake and it’ll mix.
Refrigerated milk can be drunk cold but if your baby is not a fan, the best way to warm it is by placing the bottled milk in lukewarm water. The reason a microwave is not ideal is because it creates hot spots which can burn a baby’s mouth.
If the milk is frozen, you need to use a little foresight because the milk should be thawed in the fridge. According to the experts at Breastfeeding basics.com, new research suggests that:
- Frozen milk that has been heated and offered to the baby can be refrigerated within 30 minutes and offered again for the next feeding, but discarded after that.
- Milk that has been heated, it can sit at room temperature for up to 2 hours, but then should be discarded.
- Milk that has been offered to a baby but has not been heated can be kept at room temperature for up to 4 hours, or 24 hours if you put it in the fridge right away.
This information has been obtained from nhs.co.uk and breastfeedingbasics.com in an article entitled “Pumping and Storing Breastmilk” – click on the link if there is anything else you need to know; the site is brilliant and offers detailed info on storing and using breast milk.
Any useful tips for storing and using breast milk that you’d care to share?