Monday, August 18, 2008

How to Preserve and Store Breast Milk

It is best to put breast milk in plastic feeding bottles with secure tops to seal in freshness. You can also use plastic bags made especially for storing milk. You can also use your breast pump to express breast milk, and store the milk directly in the bottle.
Remember to write the date on the bottle or bag before putting it in the refrigerator or freezer so you'll know how fresh it is.

Use fresh, refrigerated milk within three to five days, and keep it at the back of the fridge, away from the door, at a temperature of 4 degrees centigrade or lower.

Frozen milk lasts at week in the ice box of a fridge, and three to six months if kept in a freezer set no higher minus 18 degrees Centigrade (and then up to 12 hours, refrigerated, after thawing).

The process of freezing destroys some of the antibodies in milk, so don't freeze any that you plan to use within the time limits.

But frozen breastmilk is still much healthier and offers more protection from disease than formula milk does.

To thaw frozen milk, place the bottle or bag in a bowl of warm water, run it under warm tap water, or defrost it in the refrigerator overnight. Don't use the microwave for defrosting or warming - it kills the nutrients in breast milk. And don't ever save partially drunk portions for later use - health professionals recommend throwing out any milk that's left in the baby's bottle.

More information on breast milk preservation and storage guidelines is available here. We have also prepared a guide for expressing and how to express breast milk for customers at our Specialty Breastfeeding Store.