How to safely store breast milk for your baby?
Created by Parentune Support Updated on May 04, 2017
Every mom today knows the importance of exclusively breastfeeding her baby in the first 6 months. For moms who are not able to breastfeed her baby directly (due to demands of work, sore nipples or other reasons), expressing breast milk, using a comfortable breast pump is a practical solution. But care is needed to express and store the breast milk safely. Here are a few simple do's and don'ts that you should keep in mind -
Maintain hygiene: Before you start expressing milk, wash and clean your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Also, you may have to wash and wipe clean your breast nipples as well. Sterilise all the breast pump parts and everything which the milk will touch, including the storage container, beforehand itself. Boiling doesn’t kill all bacteria, so use a steam steriliser instead.
Boiling doesn't kill the bacteria spores which have a hard shell. But steam sterilisation is able to break the shell and kills all bacteria. This ensures you little one is safe from diseases such as milk thrush (a common but painful fungal infection of the mouth, mostly attributed to un-sterilised milk drinking equipment), gastroenteritis, and some other bacterial and fungal infections.
Comfortable breast pump: The more you breastfeed your baby or express milk to feed, the more the hormones in the mother’s body are stimulated to produce milk. This ensures that the demand and supply balance of mother’s milk is maintained. Manual pumps are fine if you plan to express 1-2 times a day, but we suggest an electric pump for a more comfortable experience. A good electric pump should be comfortable, with fewer parts to clean, at least a 2 year warranty, a let-down mode to help start milk flow and should be a closed system. Closed system pumps have a sealing valve between the motor tube and the milk collection unit to stop any milk flow into the tube for better hygiene. An example of a high-quality breast pump which ticks all the boxes is the Philips Avent Comfort Electric Breast Pump.
Use hygienic containers: When storing breast milk ensure that the container used is properly sterilised, capped and BPA free. Also, if you have older children in the house, or domestic help, instruct them too on the correct way of handling a container that has expressed breast milk kept in it.
Store breast milk properly: Once breast milk is expressed, in case the baby is not consuming it right away, it needs to be stored properly. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
(i) Minimum handling: It is suggested that the mother stores breast milk in the container in which it is expressed (mostly a bottle provided by the manufacturer). This reduces chances of contamination from transferring the milk from one container to another.
(ii) Keep breast milk refrigerated: In an ideal situation where there are no power-cuts or fluctuations in wattage, expressed milk can be stored up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. It is best to place the containers in the back of the refrigerator or freezer, where the temperature is the coolest. In case you do not have access to a refrigerator or freezer, store the milk temporarily in an insulated cooler or ice box.If you are in a locality with frequent power failures, then the temperature in the refrigerator also fluctuates as much. Therefore ideally, expressed milk should not be stored beyond 6 hours. But in case you feel the need to store it for longer, ensure that your refrigerator is on a power back-up and is connected to a stabiliser.
Also Read: Build your child’s immunity
(iii) Re-heating: Breast milk is full of antibodies and nutrients for the baby and some of it can get destroyed while heating or defrosting the milk on stove or in microwave. Therefore, to warm it either use a bottle warmer, or stand the container containing breast milk in a bowl of hot water and gently rotate it. Let it come to room temperature and then can be given to the baby.
(iv) Label the containers: If you have expressed milk more than what will be consumed by the baby in one feed, store it in separate bottles/containers, and also put the date and time of expression, so that you know till when the milk is usable. Additionally, it can be marked as per the baby’s feeding time for eg: 4:00, 6:00. This will help you or any other caretaker, to give the baby milk on time. Also, follow the rule of first expressed-first fed to ensure no confusions.
Never re-use breastmilk: Breast milk can only be defrosted once. Never try to refreeze or store breast milk once it has been defrosted. Remember breast milk is the most natural form of milk that has not gone through any pasteurisation or other processes to increase the shelf life. Throw the remaining milk and wash and sterilise the container right away.
Responsible handling: Do not let too many members of the family pitch in with the process of sterilisation, warming the milk, or giving it to the baby. In case of your absence, delegate the chore to one responsible adult who you have taken through the entire process previously.
Avoid sharing the breast pump equipment: If you are one of the lucky families, blessed with two or more babies at the same time (for eg: a joint family set-up) or have an older relative who insists passing on her breast pump to you, decline the offer politely and insist on buying a new set for yourself. Recycled breast pumps may have gone through wear and tear that can prove to be not-so-healthy for your little one.
Storing instructions: Containers or bags should not be filled to the brim. Leave at least one inch of space to avoid spilling.
No disposable containers: Experts advice against using disposable bottle liners as they can’t be sterilised hence can prove difficult to maintain the high level hygiene required.
Do not leave expressed milk on the countertop/without refrigeration: In case you do not have a fridge or freezer available, e.g. in your office, use a freezer box to store expressed milk. Freezer boxes are easily available in kitchen utility stores. Given the high temperatures, heat, and humidity conditions of our country, it is suggested that expressed milk if not meant to be consumed, should be stored right away in the refrigerator. Leaving it out exposes it to the onset of degradation.
| May 04, 2017
is it ok to keep expressed breast milk for an hour or two at room temp??
| Apr 03, 2017
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| Mar 27, 2017
| Nov 25, 2016
how long d milk be consumed after defrosting it once? Also for how long we can keep d expressed milk at room temperature before consumption?
| Sep 24, 2016
how can I sterilise the containers? n cn I use my steel vessels to store the milk? for how long the breast milk n b refrigerated? we need to put in the freezer or d normal fridge?
| Sep 20, 2016
@Shilpa if you are storing the breast milk properly at the back of the refrigerator then you may use that milk for a day. However, please ensure that you don't heat or reheat the breast milk.
| Jun 07, 2016
Breastmilk should be stored in sterilized containers only. Else it is not safe to store.
| Jun 07, 2016
Hi Shilpa, if the sterilization method mentioned here are followed it is safe to store breast milk.
| Jun 06, 2016
| Jun 06, 2016
My doctor says storing milk for so long as suggested here is not a good idea. What is the correct information?
| Jun 02, 2016
Hi.. I have a small milk lump in my breast... should I remove it... will it cause any harm for the baby? can the breast milk kept out?for how many hours?
| Jun 02, 2016
Hi @Shilpa @Bijit You can express and feed till two years and as much as you can express. Follow the guidelines mentioned in the blog to store milk. Happy Feeding
| May 23, 2016
Till what age of the baby the breast milk can be expressed & fed to him?
| May 19, 2016
How much quantity of milk canbe expressed in one pump,? Can it be used for a day.
| May 17, 2016
Hi Dileep, Since the breast milk is the purest form of milk available for your child, the breast milk if not stored and refrigerated properly can get spoilt. Hence it is imperative to understand that if you need to travel at a stipulated time in your case where you have to catch the train by 1 pm then at least one hour before you would like to feed the baby. So the milk should be expressed maximum by 12 and the baby should have had that milk immediately.
| May 17, 2016
How long we can keep expressed milk in room? For eg if i have to catch a train @ 1pm... me n baby are travelling thn at wat tym i can express milk.... b4 wat tym i shd gv dat milk to my baby i mean b4 wat tym dat milk should be finished?
| May 16, 2016
Useful information .... Nice... Thanks a lot