Breastfeeding is something that gets complicated once you found out that your breast milk is too much for a day. Or, if you are pumping breast milk because you can’t be with your baby all the time, storing it could be a problem for you as well. In this article, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about breast milk storage.
Exactly How Long Does Breast Milk Last?
This depends on where you store the breast milk, and here are the most common situations for that:
1. Stored at room temperature. At your average room temperature, let’s say 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you can store it for up to 4 hours and it will still be drinkable and consumable. In fact, if your breast milk has been collected at a slightly lower temperature, it can even be good for up to 8 hours or so.
2. Breast milk in the fridge. If you ever want to store your breast milk in the fridge, it can possibly last for up to 4 days. If your breast milk has been collected in the cleanest way possible, it can last for up to 8 days. It could also last this long if you store it at the back of your fridge. This is because any fresh milk, when refrigerated, isn’t susceptible to bacteria for up to 2 days.
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3. Ice pack insulation. If you are often traveling and you need to store your breast milk in a place or container with ice packs, you can expect it to last for 1 day or 24 hours. As long as the temperature remains constant at 15 degrees Celsius, or 59 degrees Fahrenheit, it can most certainly last that long.
4. Keeping breast milk in the freezer. If you’ve decided to move your breast milk from the regular fridge shelves to the actual freezer compartment, it can last up to a whopping 12 months! This means that your baby’s drinks can last for a whole year. However, do note that even though it is safe from any bacteria, the quality of the breast milk may not be as good as if it were consumed earlier.
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Tips for Storing Breast Milk
If you want to store breast milk in a smart way, here are some tips for you:
1. Practice proper hygiene. Always collect your breast milk with clean hands. Use soap and water or any disinfectant to make sure that when you collect your breast milk, no bacteria or viruses will get into it. In this way, your baby can be safe from harmful contaminants.
2. Prepare and disinfect the containers. Always make sure that the breast milk will be stored in a container that has been washed well. And by that, we mean washed in hot, soapy water, just as you would with your baby’s other items, such as baby bottles (if they are already using them). Hot water helps a lot to disinfect the containers without causing harsh chemicals to leak out.
3. Make sure your breast pump parts are clean enough. Using your user’s manual, read on to find out how to clean your breast pump parts so that they don’t end up catching any unnecessary bacteria or viruses from elsewhere and getting them onto your baby’s milk.
4. Choose your breast milk storage containers wisely. You can use plastic or glass, however, make sure they are BPA-free because BPA is a bad thing for babies. They are filled with unnecessary chemicals that could be dangerous to your baby’s health. Anything that’s plastic, when melted, can cause chemicals to leak out. This is why storing them in the glass is still the best option.
Alternatively, if you want less spacious ways of keeping them, you can also use freezer bags if you intend to put them in the freezer.
When storing in either glass or plastic bottles, always make sure that they have enough space for expansion, as storing them in different temperatures could alter their total mount. Plastic bags should be sealed completely and any bottle should be freeze-proof and crack-proof before you use them.
5. Add labels. To avoid confusion with regular milk and breast milk, use a label to clearly identify the bottle that you store the breast milk with. If there are multiple parents in the house, you can also add your name to it, or, you can even add your child’s name to avoid confusion.
Clearly write the date and time that you pumped the breast milk so that you have a good idea of when it will expire. Oh, and don’t forget to use permanent, water-resistant markers, such as Sharpies, so they won’t get erased.
6. Cool milk down before adding new ones. If you ever want to add new milk to your old milk, make sure that the old milk is cooled down first. Then, you can combine them.
7. Consider only storing in small containers. It can be a waste if you ever stored too much breast milk that won’t be used, so it’s best to store them only in practical amounts that you would naturally feed to your little one. The best amount is about 2 to 4 ounces.
8. Make sure your breast milk gets in the coolest part of the fridge. Most moms make a mistake of putting their breast milk near the door compartment where it won’t get enough cooling. The trick is to put your container at the back to ensure it gets cool and comfortable (and not go to waste).
9. Thaw frozen milk the right way. Most experts will tell you that you shouldn’t use the microwave to thaw the milk because of the problems with hot spots. Instead, run it naturally under warm water.
As a whole, breast milk can be stored properly if you use the right methods. Babies benefit a lot from breast milk, so if you really want it to last for a long time and you want ready stocks for your little ones, it’s best to use these techniques that we mentioned. We hope you liked our article!