Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful things you can do for your child, but it can also be a little overwhelming and scary in the beginning. If you plan on going back to work or even if you just want someone else to be able to feed your baby besides yourself, you are going to need to know how to store breast milk. But how do you do that? I exclusively pumped my youngest son so I am very familiar with storing breast milk! Keep reading to find out how!
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How to store breast milk Step-by-step
- Pump into your bottles that come with your pump, I personally use the Medela Pump in style advanced. You can find out why I LOVE this pump by clicking here.
- Once you are finished pumping, take off your pumping bottles and pour the breast milk into your breast milk storage bags. I prefer to use the Lansinoh storage bags because they are better quality and do not have leaks. Girl! Nothing is worse than when you go to thaw out a pack of breast milk for your baby at 1 am and you see all your liquid gold spilling out down the drain!!
- Squeeze all the air out of the bag and seal. This is SUPER important because if there is air in the bag it will not store for a longer period of time and air inside the bag can breed bacteria.
- Take a Sharpie and write down the date and time you pumped your breast milk and how many ounces you pumped.
- Lay storage bag flat inside of your freezer. If your freezer does not have a flat surface try placing it on something flat like a piece of cardboard until it completely freezes.
- Stack breast milk bags vertically upright inside of big Ziplock bags or a container of your choice. A cut open soda box is a cheap idea that will get the job done too. If you are trying to set up a good milk supply, it’s a good idea to sort the bags by date. That way you will know which milk is the oldest.
Additionally, you can also store breast milk in the refrigerator using a breast milk storage system. I love the Medela breast milk storage system because they can be attached to the Medela pump directly which cuts down on the amount of washing that has to be done. Then you just pop the lid on and you are done!
How long is breast milk good for in the refrigerator/freezer?
Breast milk that is stored in the fridge is good for about 3-5 days. ( I usually use it by day 3). Breast milk that is in the freezer can last for 3-6 months. You should try to keep the milk as far back in the freezer as possible. In a deep freezer however, you the milk will be good for 6-12 months.
Now what about if you freshly pump the milk and leave it out at room temperature you ask? If the room is between 60-85 degrees Farenheit then your milk should be good for about 3-4 hours. If the room is on the cooler side it will last for 6-8 hours. Thawed milk from the freezer will last in the fridge for 24 hours but NEVER refreeze it once it is thawed. If you are traveling with your milk it is also good for 24 hours in an insulated cooler with cold ice packs. A good one to use is the Medela Cooler set. It fits into the Medela pump in style and freestyle pumping bags and includes 4 breast milk bottles with lids for storage as well as an ice pack.
How do you thaw out breast milk?
So now that you know how to properly store breast milk and know how long it is good in the fridge and freezer for, now you need to know how to that out your breast milk.
- Take breast milk bag out of your freezer the night before you plan to use the breast milk and place in the fridge overnight to thaw. Or you can take the breast milk bag out and run warm water over it to thaw out quickly. Do not use hot water or boil in a pot or microwave milk as this can destroy vitamins and minerals in the milk and potentially burn your baby.
- Pour breast milk in bottle and give to baby!
It’s best to thaw in the fridge over night in order to keep all the milk components together. When completely thawed and poured into bottle, gently swirl the milk around to mix any fat that has been separated from the milk. You will see this especially if you are thawing out a bottle of breast milk that has been in the fridge as the fat will stick to the edges of the bottle. Do not shake the bottle as it can break up the vitamins and minerals.
This breastfeeding journey you are on is a hard one, but it also is extremely rewarding and the best thing for your sweet little baby. I hope this helped you Mama!
P.S. Want to make breastfeeding Easier?! Check out my post on 15 products to make breastfeeding easier now!