Ask the Experts
Q: How long can freshly pumped breast milk stay unrefrigerated and still be safe?
A: It's hard to believe that milk can stay out of the refrigerator and not go bad, but when it comes to breast milk, it's true. That's because mother's milk is an antibiotic of sorts, capable of killing many bacteria and viruses. That said, even though some experts say breast milk can be kept at normal room temperature for up to eight hours without the danger of bacterial growth, I'm not comfortable with leaving it unrefrigerated for more than four to six hours. If you can't store your breast milk in a refrigerator or freezer after you're done pumping--for instance, if you don't have access to one at work or often are on the go--store your milk in an insulated cooler with ice packs.