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Breastmilk Storage

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This information is based on current research and applies to mothers who:

  • have healthy, full-term babies;
  • are storing their milk for home use (as opposed to hospital use);
  • wash their hands before expressing; and
  • use containers that have been washed in hot, soapy water and rinsed.

All milk should be dated before storing.

Storage Guidelines

Colostrum

  • kept at room temperature 27-32 degrees C (80.6-89.6 degrees F)--12 to 24 hrs

Mature milk

  • kept at 15 degrees C (59-60 degrees F)--24 hrs
  • kept at 19-22 degrees C (66-71.6 degrees F)--10 hrs
  • kept at 25 degrees C (79 degrees F)--4-8 hrs
  • refrigerated 0-4 degrees C (32-39 degrees F)--8 days

Frozen milk

  • Freezer compartment located inside a refrigerator--2 weeks
  • Separate door refrigerator/freezer--3 or 4 months (temperature varies because the door opens frequently)
  • Separate deep freeze at constant -19 degrees C (0 degrees F) 6 months or longer

What Type of Container to Use

If the milk will be frozen:

  • heavy plastic or glass containers can be used
  • freezer milk bags are available that are designed for storing human milk
  • disposable bottle liners are not recommended
  • cool milk in refrigerator before adding to a container of frozen milk

How to Warm the Milk

  • thaw and/or heat under warm, running water;
  • do not bring temperature of milk to boiling point;
  • shake before testing the temperature; shaking will also redistribute the cream among the milk (it is normal for stored milk to separate into a cream and milk layer)
  • do not use a microwave oven to heat human milk.

Thawed milk

If milk has been frozen and thawed, it can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours for later use. It should not be refrozen. It is not known whether milk that is left in the bottle after a feeding can be safely kept until the next feeding or if it should be discarded.

Expressed milk can be kept in a common refrigerator at the workplace or in a day care center. The US Centers for Disease control and the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration agree that human milk is not among the body fluids that require special handling or storage in a separate container.

Source: La Leche League

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