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Tips for Expression and Storing of Breastmilk


National Milk Bank advocates the exclusive feeding of a mother's own milk to all infants, especially during their first year of life. If you are going to be away from your baby for any length of time, expressing beforehand is a great way to continue to provide the benefits of breast milk to your child while you are away. Pumping ahead of time also allows close friends and family members to participate in the feeding process. Expressing milk relieves engorged breasts and increases the body's milk production. If you are taking medication that may be harmful to your baby, pumping also helps prolong the body's ability to lactate so you can continue to breastfeed after ceasing your medication intake. Listed below are some helpful tips about expressing and storing your breast milk.

Storing breast milk for your own baby:

  • Always wash your hands before expressing or handling your milk.
  • Make sure that all pump parts that come into contact with your skin or milk can be removed and cleaned. Otherwise,
    the pump will become a breeding ground for bacteria, and the milk will not be safe for your baby.
  • Be sure to use only clean containers (preferably designed for breast milk) to store expressed milk.
  • Make sure to label the milk with the date that you freeze it and use your oldest milk first.
  • Do not add fresh milk to already frozen milk in a storage container.
  • You may thaw milk in the refrigerator or by placing under warm running water. Do not use hot water to thaw breast milk.
    Excess heat can destroy important proteins and vitamins in the milk.
  • Do not use microwave ovens to heat bottles because they do not heat them evenly. Uneven heating can easily scald your
    baby or damage the milk. Bottles can also explode if left in the microwave too long.
  • Never re-freeze thawed breast milk.
  • Do not save milk from a used bottle for use at another feeding.

In addition to the safety tips above, please remember these guidelines when storing breast milk for donation:

  • Milk for donation must be kept in the refrigerator no more than 12 hours and then placed in the freezer. If you can put your expressed milk directly into the freezer after it is collected, that is ideal.
  • You may put multiple expressions into one bag throughout the day, as long as you keep that bag inside the refrigerator
    during the day and then place the bag into the freezer within 12 hours of the first expression.
  • We are only able to accept milk for donation that is stored in single-use bags are bottles which are specifically designed
    for breast milk storage.
  • Ideally, we would like for the milk to be stored in 2-4 ounces increments, however, we know many mamas put more than
    this inside one bag. As long as the bag can be properly closed without leaking, we are still able to accept it for donation.
Room Temperature at 77° F (25° C) or below Use within 3-4 hours
In refrigerator at 40° F (4° C) or below Use within 2 days
Frozen in a separate freezer compartment at -4° F (-20° C) Store up to 6 months
Thawed from frozen and refrigerated at 40° F (4° C) or below Use within 24 hours

These guidelines are consistent with the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics.