The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Store breast milk in sterilized glass or clear-plastic bottles or in plastic freezer bags designed specifically for breastfeeding. The type of refrigerator or freezer you have determines the length of time breast milk can be safely stored. (Be sure to date each bottle or bag.)
In the refrigerator:
In the freezer:
Breast milk can be safely kept at room temperature for four to six hours without danger of bacteria growth. But to be on the safe side, put your milk in a refrigerator or insulated cooler with ice packs until you head home. Then, before you put the milk in the freezer, separate it into 2- or 3-ounce servings so you don’t waste any of your hard-earned “liquid gold.”
Hold the sealed bottle or bag under running hot water or place it in a bowl of hot water. Never heat breast milk in a pot of boiling water or in a microwave oven; this will destroy some of the milk’s beneficial properties and can lead to uneven heating and the risk of burning your baby’s mouth. After the milk is heated, shake it well (it’s normal for the milk to separate into cream and milk layers) and then test its temperature.
For details about your legal rights as they pertain to breastfeeding, visit www.lalecheleague.org or call 800-LALECHE.