How to Manage & Store Breast Milk

The nectar of the gods, breast milk is without doubt a precious commodity. With well documented health benefits for both baby and mum, it can prove difficult particularly for time-poor mums to express, express extra and ensure it is stored correctly. In an ideal world, the breast feeding mum would fling open the freezer door to be met by a freezer full of milk, making the transition back to work easier and that the needs of her new baby met even in her absence. Successfully storing breast milk will also foster a bond between her partner and the new baby, with both parents able to feed baby the nutrient rich breast milk. So how do we store breast milk successfully? How long does it last? Where is the best place to store it? And what’s the best way to defrost it? Read on…..

1.Make sure you know the difference between cows milk, formula and breast milk. Breast milk is typically thinner in appearance and may vary in colour from rich creamy colours to an almost blueish-white colour. Breast milk when left to sit will usually separate into layers with the creamy milk rising to the top. It is vital that you recognise this, as to the untrained eye, a perfectly fresh batch of mum’s breast milk may look off or strange.

2.When considering your storage options, why not collect your expressed milk throughout the day and add it into the one container which should be kept in the fridge. An Avent or any clean sterile sealed bottle will suffice, then at the end of the day after deciding whether you were going to use it or freeze it, you can divide it up for storage. The lansinoh breast milk storage bags are ideal for dividing your breast milk stores up, with no leakage, simply follow the instructions on the bag then label and date the bag (make sure to date before placing the milk in the bag, as it can be a little difficult writing on a bag full of breast milk!). Then proceed to store according to the following guidelines:

  • At room temperature for 6-10 hours.
  • In a fridge for up to 5 days.
  • In the freezer compartment of a single door fridge/freezer for two weeks.
  • In a freezer with a separate door to the fridge for 3-4 months.
  • In a deep freezer for 6 months.

When defrosting your frozen breast milk you can:

  • Defrost in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
  • Leave the milk at room temperature for one hour.
  • For urgent use place the frozen storage bag in a cup of warm water until it is warm enough to feed baby.
  • You can also place the frozen breast milk storage bag under a running tap of warm water, noting that breast milk can be given at room or body temperature but never at boiling point.
  • Once you have defrosted breast milk it can only be kept in the fridge for 24 hours and cannot be refrozen.
  • Remember any milk that has been fed to baby cannot be kept for a later feed if baby has sucked on the bottle.So try adding 2oz portions to a bottle at a time and add more as needed.
  • You can heat fresh breast milk by simply placing the bottle in a large cup of warm water until it is at your desired temperature.
  • Under no circumstances use a microwave to defrost or heat breat milk as it can alter the composition of the milk, causing hot spots throughout, which may burn baby’s mouth.

When storing the breast milk:

  • Store breast milk towards the back of the fridge which ensures a more consistent temperature, whereas storing it in the door for example can lead to inconsistencies in temperature and composition.
  • When breast milk has been stored in either the fridge or the freezer, upon using it you will need to swirl and mix the layers back together. Swirling and not shaking is vital as shaking can alter the composition of the milk.

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22nd Mar 2018

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