Breast Milk Storage: How to Collect and How to Store

To preserve the nutritional value and preventing infection, many women store breast milk for their babies.It is very convenient for many mothers who are working or going to school or when they are not with their babies to collect and store the breast milk for future use, which makes it easy to breastfeed infants when they are out or even in public. The following guidelines ensure every mother the correct way of breast milk storage for their babies in a healthy manner.

How to Collect Your Breast Milk Correctly

1. Collect by Pump

  • Firstly, read the instructions that come with the pumping kit. You need to clean and sterilize the breast pump and the collecting bottles with soap and water or you can use dishwasher and Medela Quick Clean products to clean the pump stuff thoroughly.
  • Employed moms must practice removing the milk through pump one to two weeks before going back to work.
  • Practice pumping the milk when you are relaxed and your breasts feel full. Pumped milk helps babies to get used to bottle feeding.
  • Many mothers use the freshly pumped milk to feed their infants whereas some store the milk and refrigerate them for future use and emergencies.
  • For regular pumping, it is recommended to pump at least 3 times during a day, or every 3 hours when you are away from your child.
  • To protect the supply of milk, you must pump for 10-15 minutes during breaks and lunch. Whenever it is possible, breastfeed your baby to keep a close bond, which helps to maintain milk supply as well.
  • While collecting milk by hand, you need to make sure that your hands are washed and clean without infecting milk or the bottle.
  • Give a gentle massage of your breast, position it just behind your areola, the darker portion of the breast, which helps with regulating the milk flow.
  • Keeping your fingers in a C-shape posture, squeeze your breasts and not directly the nipple so that it does not hurt. Do it in rhythm by releasing the pressure and pressing it with your fingers.
  • Initially there will be few drops of milk, but once the milk supply is built by regular pressing, milk will start to flow easily.
  • You must repeat in other section of the breasts, moving your fingers around it and reiterate the procedure.
  • Keep on swapping the breasts until the milk flow has slowed down or stopped.
  • Use the sterilized bottles to collect the milk by holding it below the breast.

2. Collect by Hand

  • While collecting milk by hand, you need to make sure that your hands are washed and clean without infecting milk or the bottle.
  • Give a gentle massage of your breast, position it just behind your areola, the darker portion of the breast, which helps with regulating the milk flow.
  • Keeping your fingers in a C-shape posture, squeeze your breasts and not directly the nipple so that it does not hurt. Do it in rhythm by releasing the pressure and pressing it with your fingers.
  • Initially there will be few drops of milk, but once the milk supply is built by regular pressing, milk will start to flow easily.
  • You must repeat in other section of the breasts, moving your fingers around it and reiterate the procedure.
  • Keep on swapping the breasts until the milk flow has slowed down or stopped.
  • Use the sterilized bottles to collect the milk by holding it below the breast.

How to Store Your Breast Milk

When it comes to breast milk storage, there are some guides which you can follow to ensure the health of your baby.

1. Choose the Right Container

Before pumping or expressing the milk, disinfect your hands with soap and water. You must store the pumped or expressed milk in hard, plastic and capped containers to protect it from spilling and leakage. Breast milk bags are available for storing the milk, but it is generally not advisable to store milk in bags,because they may leak and spill and get contaminated easily when compared to the hard sided containers. To prevent any loss of nutrients and quality of the breast milk, such hard sided containers should be preferred over the bags.

2. Steps for Breast Milk Storage

  • Sterilized containers like plastic bottles or plastic breast milk bags must be used over glass bottles to prevent any cracks or chipping of the containers.
  • Everything must be clean and disinfected to prevent any bacteria from spoiling the milk.
  • Mark the bottles or bags with date so that the oldest one is used first.
  • Store only required amount of milk everyday, so as to avoid wasting. You can estimate it to the regular amount of foodyour baby needs.
  • If you do not need to use the breastmilk right away, store it in a refrigerator or a freezer to keep it good.

3. How Long Can You Store Your Breast Milk?

Storage Places

Temperature

Storage Duration

Cautions and Tips

Table

Roomtemperature

(600F – 850F)

Ideally up to 3-4 hours

Extremelyup to 6-8 hours for clean expressed milk

All the containers must be protected with closed lids; Using a clean wet cloth to cover the top will keep it cool. Throw away the surplus milk after the use.

Smallcooler with an ice pack

590F

1 Day

Always keep the ice packs near or in contact with the containers; do not open the cooler very often.

Refrigerator

Below 390F

Ideally up to 3 days or 72 hours

Extremelyup to 5-8 days for clean expressed milk.

Keep the containers in the back of the refrigerator.

Freezer

Below 00F

Ideally up to 6 months

Extremelyup to 12 months for clean expressed milk

Store it at the back of the freezer to provide constant cooling temperature. Milk stored at 00F or lower may stay longer but the quality may reduce.

Warning: it is not recommended to re-freeze the milk already thawed for over 24 hours.

To know more about pumping and storage of breast milk you can watch the following video:

More Notes on Breast Milk Storage and Warming

1. Warming Breast Milk

  • Use warm or hot running water or in a bowl to thaw the stored milk.
  • Do not boil or over boil the milk as it will kill nutrients.
  • It is possible that cream will be formed in the stored milk; therefore it should be gently swirled, without shaking it vigorously, to mix the cream and the milk. Test the temperatureand then feed the baby.
  • Avoid using Microwave ovens to heat the breast milk.

2. How to Tell If Your Stored Breast Milk Is Bad

Breast milk can be bluish, yellowish and brownish in color. You can shake the bottle gently to mix the separated portion of fat with the milk.