All you need to know about storing and warming breast milk
Here's all you need to know about storing and warming breast milk from the fridge.
Mummies, isn’t breastfeeding such an absolute joy? If you answered yes, you’re one of the lucky ones. But if you’re struggling with breastfeeding, it’s totally normal, don’t worry.
Every mum goes through her own journey with breastfeeding. But at some point, it’s time to go back to work and your best friend becomes the pump when you’re away from your child.
So at that stage, you would probably need to pump and store your breast milk.
Once you start pumping, it’s important to know how to safely store and warm your expressed milk properly. Consider these do’s and don’ts for breast milk storage.
Storing and handling
You may store your breast milk in storage bottles or storage bags. These are available in most stores that carry baby goods and supplies.
Do consider storing them in smaller portions – amounts they need per feed (i.e: 2 to 4 ounces) in a bottle or bag. This way, you can easily warm them to be used later at one feeding and make it easier for the person handling it too.
Always leave an inch or so from the milk to the top of the bottle or bag, because liquid will expand when frozen.
Label your bottle or bag with a marker pen stating the date it was expressed and then put them in the freezer or fridge at the section where it is coolest.
How long can they be stored for?
Here’s the general rule of thumb. If you follow these rules, your milk will likely be safe. However, you can always have a taste test first before feeding your baby.
Tip: If the milk is sour, then it is spoiled and you will need to discard it.
- Room temperature – Freshly expressed milk can be kept at room temperature for up to 4 hours.
- Insulated cooler – Milk can be stored for one day with frozen ice packs inside. After 24 hours in a cooler, the breast milk should be refrigerated or frozen.
- Refrigerator – Breast milk can be kept at the back of the fridge for up to 4 days. If you’re not going to use refrigerated breast milk within 4 days of pumping, freeze it right after pumping.
- Freezer – Milk can be stored for up to 6 months. Put them toward the back of the freezer where the temperature is most constant. Milk stored at 0°C or colder is safe for longer durations, but the quality of the milk might not be as high.
- Deep freezer – Breast milk can be kept up to 12 months when the temperature is colder than 0°C. However, it is best to use the frozen milk within six months.
Keep in mind research suggests that the longer you store breast milk, whether in the refrigerator or freezer, the greater the loss of vitamin C in the milk.
It’s also important to note that breast milk expressed when a baby is a newborn won’t completely meet the same baby’s needs as when he or she is a few months older.
How to warm breast milk from fridge
Always thaw the oldest milk first. Place the frozen bottle or bag in the refrigerator the night before you intend to use it.
You may gently warm the milk by placing it under warm running water or in a bowl of warm water. Bottle warmers are also a good option as it is convenient and easy to use.
NEVER heat breast milk in the microwave or stove. This method heats unevenly and will damage the milk and antibodies.
Thawed breast milk might seem to have a different odour or consistency compared to freshly expressed milk. The colour may vary depending on your diet but it is absolutely safe for your baby to consume.
Test the temperature of the milk before feeding it to your baby by dropping some on your wrist. The milk should feel warm, not hot.
How long can it last?
Thawed breast milk can last for 1-2 hours at room temperature and 24 hours in the fridge. This means 24 hours from when the breast milk is no longer frozen, not from when you take it out of the freezer.
Once the milk has been warmed, use it within 2 hours. Discard any leftover milk after the baby has finished feeding.
NEVER refreeze breast milk that has been thawed.
So with all these tips, you should be an absolute expert at how to warm breast milk from fridge and other forms of breast milk!
Read also: The psychological benefits of breastfeeding