Expressing and Storing Breastmilk

You may wish to express and store your breastmilk occasionally. Stored breastmilk can be used by a babysitter when you're unavailable, or by a partner who wishes to share in feeding your baby. A variety of breast pumps are available on the market that can express milk easily and quickly.

Bottles and containers used to store breastmilk should be sterilized or washed in very hot soapy water to avoid contaminating the milk with germs. Be sure to label and date containers storing breastmilk, and discard any milk which has been stored too long.

Here are some tips on How to store and prepare your expressed milk from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Always wash your hands before expressing or handling your milk.
     
  • Be sure to use only clean containers to store expressed milk. Try to use screw cap bottles, hard plastic cups with tight caps or special heavy nursery bags that can be used to feed your baby. Do not use ordinary plastic storage bags or formula bottle bags for storing expressed milk.
     
  • Use sealed and chilled milk within 24 hours if possible. Discard all milk that has been refrigerated more than 72 hours.
     
  • Freeze milk if you will not be using it within 24 hours. Frozen milk is good for at least 1 month (3 to 6 months if kept in a 0° freezer). Store it at the back of the freezer and never in the door section. Make sure to label the milk with the date that you freeze it. Use the oldest milk first.
     
  • Freeze 2 to 4 ounces of milk at a time, because that is the average amount of a single feeding. However, you may want some smaller amounts for some occasions.
     
  • Do not add fresh milk to already frozen milk in a storage container.
     
  • You may thaw milk in the refrigerator or you can thaw it more quickly by swirling it in a bowl of warm water.
     
  • Do not use microwave ovens to heat bottles because they do not heat them evenly. Uneven heating can easily scald your baby or damage the milk. Bottles can also explode if left in the microwave too long. Excess heat can destroy important proteins and vitamins in the milk.
     
  • Milk thawed in the refrigerator must be used within 24 hours.
     
  • Do not re-freeze your milk.
     
  • Do not save milk from used bottle for use at another feeding.