How to Store Breast Milk

Thinking of Storing Breast Milk? Here's what you need to know.

Hi Ladies! There comes a time when every mummy might need to express and store breast milk, especially if returning to work or are leaving precious baby with another carer.  If you're breastfeeding right now, here's some useful info it would be good to know, to make sure you're all clued up!

How long can I store my breast milk?

  1. Make sure to wash your hands, breast pump parts and all milk bottles thoroughly with warm, soapy water and rinse carefully.  Air dry on a clean towel.
  2. Express milk into your selected milk bottle.
  3. If you would like to store milk for a short period of time at room temperature (16-25°C / 60-77°F) then Medela recommends that it can last up to 4 hours.  After that you must throw it away.
  4. If you would like to refrigerate your milk (4°C / 39°F or colder) you can store it for up to 3 days.
  5. Stored in a freezer (-18°C / 0°F or colder) your milk can be stored up to 6 months.
  6. Frozen breast milk should be thawed at room temperature for up to 2 hours or in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. DO NOT REFREEZE!

Where can I store my breast milk?

Store your milk in special Breast Milk Collection Bottles or in disposable bags specifically designed for storing breast milk, such as Pump & Save™ bags by Medela. Avent also have fantastic breast milk storage containers & bags.

Write the date on a bit of paper and tape it on to the bag or bottle so you can remember when the milk was expressed.

Make sure that any bags or containers are sealed tightly.

If you don't manage to pump the full required amount of breast milk, it is fine to keep pumping and adding cooled breast milk to the same refrigerated container throughout the day.  This takes off pressure to express the entire amount in one go which can be time consuming or cause a little discomfort.

If you find that your stored breast milk has separated into layers and the cream has risen to the top, just give it a little swirl to mix the layers and it should be fine.

Defrosting Breast Milk

Thaw milk overnight in the refrigerator, or hold the bottle under warm running water to quickly thaw.  You can also place the sealed container in a bowl of warm water for 20 minutes to bring it to body temperature.

Thawed milk is safe in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  DO NOT REFREEZE.

Heating Stored Breast Milk

Medela says:
"Never microwave breast milk. Microwaving can cause severe burns to baby's mouth from hot spots that develop in the milk during microwaving. Microwaving can also change the composition of breast milk. Thaw milk overnight in the refrigerator, or hold the bottle under warm running water to quickly thaw. You can also place the sealed container in a bowl of warm water for 20 minutes to bring it to body temperature. Make sure the water does not come up to the level of the collar of the bottle. Thawed milk is safe in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Once thawed, DO NOT REFREEZE."

*If you have any specific questions or would like further information, we recommend that you contact your lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist. The above guidelines have been recommended by Medela and are specifically for healthy term babies.