Breast milk storage guidelines can be difficult to follow if you’re first starting because they vary depending on who you talk to.
Whether returning to the office or planning a dinner date with your friends, most new mamas eventually need a break from breastfeeding. This is where breast pumps come into the picture.
They allow new mums the freedom to feed the baby on demand, even when they are back to their routines and away from the little one. More importantly, effective and safe storage of breast milk ensures that only the best is given to your baby.
Breastmilk Freezer Storage Guidelines
Freezing breastmilk is a great way to keep it safe and easy to access, but you need to follow storage guidelines to keep it safe.
Here are some of our favourite tips:
- Only freeze breastmilk that has not been frozen previously. Milk that has never been frozen can be kept in the fridge for up to 1-2 days past its use-by date.
- Store milk in small amounts in freezer-safe bags or containers to prevent waste when thawing and refreezing milk.
- Freeze milk right after expressing, before the air enters the container or bag.
- Write the date on the container or bag with a permanent marker, so you know when it expires!
Expressed Breastmilk Storage Guidelines
When breastfeeding, knowing how long you can safely store your expressed breastmilk is important.
Image courtesy: File Photo
Mums should aim for cleanliness. But at the same time, milk is a biological substance full of probiotic and commensal bacteria.
It is, therefore, recommended that methods of frequent hand washing, using clean containers, minimising milk transfers, and pumping directly into storage containers are followed.
Plastic or glass containers are also acceptable, and no evidence supports one over the other.
Milk has a feature that leads it to maintain its nutrient value. It also discourages the growth of bacteria when kept at temperature or in the refrigerator.
After four hours at room temperature or four days in the refrigerator, it may be best to freeze milk for long-term usage.
Milk is usually considered safe for feeding for up to 12 months of freezer storage. Plus, it can be stored better in a deep freezer than the door of the standard freezer.
Free fatty acid build-up
Human milk contains lipases that may break down triglycerides, even frozen milk. These fatty acids can give the milk an unpalatable taste. While it won’t cause additional bacterial growth or altered nutrition, some babies may reject the taste of the milk.
Keeping the milk colder may help to slow down the process. So you can consider a scald step after expression and before freezing the expressed milk.
While heating may alter some of the biological makeup of the milk, it is better than your baby rejecting the milk due to taste alone.
The new breastmilk storage guidelines give mums who pump their milk a little more freedom when it comes to storage.
This not only leads to reduced loss of breast milk, but there is less stress on storage. If you are a pumping parent, this news will cheer you up!
Breastmilk Storage Guidelines in Singapore
KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital recommends to mums in Singapore this guideline for breastmilk storage:
Sterilisation of storage containers and breast pumps
- Wash all parts of the breast pump that come into contact with your breast milk in soapy water and rinse thoroughly.
- Sterilise using the steaming, boiling or chemical-soaking method.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Submerge washed expressing kits in a container of clean water. Cover the
- container and allow the water to boil.
- Let the water boil for another 10 minutes.
- Allow the water to cool after boiling and discard from the container.
- Leave the sterilised kits covered in the container.
Chemical soaking method
- Use a plastic container with a lid that can hold all the expressing kits.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the use of a sterilising agent and prepare the solution.
- Submerge and soak washed expressing kits for at least an hour.
- Change the solution every day.
- Store all expressing kits in a clean and dry container until your next expression.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before picking up the sterilised items.
Storing Your Expressed Breast Milk
When storing expressed milk, always remember to use a sterilised bottle. You should also label all the containers with the date and time of collection.
Storage of expressed milk under different conditions.
KKH recommended storage guidelines
Milk Pooling Now Allowed, As Per New Breast Milk Storage Guidelines
The new guidelines state that milk pooling can be done throughout the day. To simplify, this would mean that as mothers pump their milk, they can add an afternoon session to a morning session of pumped milk. So, when breast milk is used later in the day, the composition will become more nutritious.
This is because breast milk’s nutritional value changes over the day.
Several resources claim milk pooling cannot be done with chilled and freshly pumped breastmilk. This may give rise to bacterial growth.
However, AAP notes that warm and cold milk can be mixed with the milk pumped in sessions within 24 hours. They can be combined without any problem.
Common Recommendations On Breastmilk Storage You Can Avoid
Image courtesy: File Photo
Considering the amount of information on breast milk storage available online, it can be confusing for mums to know what is accurate and what is outdated.
Most of the common recommendations available are not evidence-based and practical. They differ for the term and preterm infants and can lead to families wasting their precious milk.
- One of them is storing two to four ounces of breast milk and refrigerating and storing them in a bag. This advice may be practical for those who have newborns. But, for older babies, who need more than two to four ounces in one feeding, this might not work. The reason is simple. Transferring the milk multiple times loses the nutritional value, and bacteria can also build up. Therefore, milk should always be stored in amounts appropriate for the baby.
- Another standard recommendation states that you must freeze breast milk as soon as it is expressed. But, AAP states that breast milk can be frozen after four hours at room temperature or as long as four days in the refrigerator.
How Long to Store Breastmilk at Room Temperature
It’s a question that every breastfeeding mom has had to ask at some point: how long can I keep my breast milk?
The answer is simple. Breastmilk can be stored at room temperature for up to six hours. After that, it should be refrigerated or frozen.
If you don’t have time to store the milk immediately, put it in the freezer, but make sure you label the container with the date and time, so you know exactly when it was frozen.
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What You Need To Know About Donating Breastmilk In Singapore
How to Tell if Baby Is Still Hungry After Breastfeeding
How Long Can Thawed Breastmilk Be at Room Temperature
Once you’ve thawed breastmilk, it should be used within one hour. In fact, the longer it sits in the fridge after being thawed, the more likely it is to spoil—which means that if you have a stash of pumped milk that you don’t need right away, it’s best to freeze them immediately after pumping.
If you know you’ll be out and about and won’t be able to use your pumped milk in time, consider using a cooler to keep it cold while travelling or transporting it back home.
What to Do With Leftover Breastmilk
If you’ve been breastfeeding your baby and have a little extra breastmilk left over, don’t throw it away! Here are some great ways to use the excess pounds of milk you produce.
- Make ice cream!
- Use it in smoothies or other drinks
- Freeze it for later use in cooking or baking
- Give your baby a milk bath
Remember though, that you need to be very careful in making sure that the leftover milk is separated from the “good” batch of breast milk for consumption. If the breast milk has gone bad, we recommend discarding it right away to avoid accidentally feeding it to your baby.
Can I Refreeze Thawed Breastmilk
If you’re pumping breastmilk and not using it immediately, you must keep it in the refrigerator.
It’s important to know that once breastmilk is brought to room temperature or warmed, use it within 2 hours. Never refreeze breast milk after it has thawed.
As you can see, breast milk storage guidelines are relatively simple. While it may be easy to stick to the guidelines, it’s not always easy to know what to do if you have excess or frozen breastmilk. In those instances, it’s also good to have a plan of action!
Checking breastmilk temperature | Image Source: iStock
Updated by Pheona Ilagan
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.