Tips for Storing Breastmilk
Pumping breast milk is a lifesaver for moms who have to work or be away from their babies for an extended period of time. If you’re pumping, proper storage is key to ensure that the breast milk is safe and good for your baby to consume.
As a general guideline,
– Breast milk can be kept at room temperature (66 – 78degF / 18 – 25 deg Celsius) for 4 – 6 hours. In warmer climates, bacteria grows quicker so you can only keep milk at room temperature for 3 – 4 hours.
– Breast milk can be kept in a fridge for 3 days safely. Keep it in the compartment that is the coolest (the chiller or the lower part of your fridge).
– Breast milk can be stored in the freezer for 3 months, or 6 – 12 months if in deep freeze (under 0 degrees Celsius). Keep in mind that some loss of vitamin C and white blood cells happens in freezing, but total protein, fat, enzyme and other general antibodies/anti-infective properties remain.
What to do with Frozen Breast Milk
– Thaw it in the fridge, or under warm running water for a quicker thaw
– Never microwave it as this could end up destroying the nutrients
– After thawing, it can be kept in the fridge for up to 24 hours, or at room temperature for up to 4 hours.
Other breast milk storage tips to consider:
– Use glass, BPA free containers or sealable plastic bags and seal the bottles tightly.
– Fill the bottles with the amount of milk that your baby consumes per feed.
– Any unfinished breastmilk in each container should be discarded after each feed.
– Date and label your containers so you know when the milk expires.
– Arrange the containers in your fridge or freezer such that the older ones are in front of the newer bottles.
– Don’t microwave your breastmilk – place the container into a bowl of warm water.
– Allow for expansion in the bottle – leave some room at the top of the container. Don’t use glass if you’re freezing your milk.
– Cool breastmilk can also be consumed, however, some babies have a preference for the particular temperature of the breastmilk.
Having a nipple infection or nipple thrush?
Don’t worry, there’s no evidence that the milk is unsafe to drink or is contaminated. So don’t throw away your breast milk just yet! In fact, breast milk contains healthy bacteria – probiotics – which is important for baby’s intestinal health. Probiotics help to create a healthy gut environment that keeps unhealthy bacteria at bay.
And if you think your breast milk has an odour…
There might by a metallic, soapy, or fishy smell after storing in the fridge or freezer. This doesn’t mean that the milk has gone bad! The smell is most likely caused by the enzyme lipase breaking down the fats in your breast milk during storage. It’s still safe for your baby to drink. However, if your baby doesn’t have a taste for it, you can prevent the odor by heating your milk after you express it.
– Heat it to 72 degrees Celsius. This prevents lipase from breaking down the fats in the milk.
– Then, cool it in ice water quickly before storage. While some of the immune protective factors will be reduced, this will prevent the smell and your baby will still drink it.