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Proper Storing of Breastmilk

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Updated July 01, 2014

Breast milk in bottles on refrigerator shelf
Jamie Grill/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Storing your precious breastmilk is an important process. There are many different ways to handle the process of storing your breastmilk. The key is finding out what system works for you.

First you need to clarify a few issues:

  • How often will you pump your breastmilk?
  • How much breastmilk to you anticipate storing?
  • How much breastmilk do you anticipate using?
  • How often will you use the breastmilk? Daily? Weekly?
  • How long will you need to store your breastmilk?

Once you have answered these questions you will have a better understanding of your personal breastmilk storage needs.

If you are only using a breast pump to pump your breastmilk occasionally, you probably don't need a rigorous system in place. You may just use breastmilk storage bags and place them in your freezer or refrigerator comparts, depending on when you anticipate needing the breastmilk. For example, if you are going out one evening this week and wish to leave a bottle of breastmilk for someone else to feed your baby, you can leave the breastmilk in a bottle in the refrigerator.

If you are pumping and storing breastmilk for use at a later unspecified date, you will probably wish to go ahead and freeze the breastmilk. This can be done in breastmilk storage bags labeled with the date you pumped the breastmilk and the volume of breastmilk contained in the storage bag.

For those mothers who use a breast pump on a daily basis while either at work or who just wish to build an emergency supply of breastmilk, more organization is needed. Many mothers choose to use breastmilk storage bags with labels. To take this system one step further, you can actually place the bags of breastmilk into one gallon sized plastic storage bags with zipper like closures. Many women choose to mark the bags on the outside with the dates of the milk that particular bag contains or with a number system to alert the person using the breastmilk to use the oldest breastmilk first. This is a very simple solution that seems to work very well for many women who are using breast pumps.

No matter what system you decide works best for you in storing your expressed breastmilk, remember that the pumping of your breastmilk is an important gift that you are giving your baby!

Storage Guidelines

Location Temperature Length
Room Temperature 66-72 degrees F 10 hours
Refrigerator 32-39 degrees F 8 days
Freezer within Refrigerator Varied Temps 2 weeks
Freezer Varied Temps 5 months
Deep Freezer 0 degrees F 6 months or longer
Related Video
Storing Breast Milk
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