The nuts and bolts of pumping breast milk for your baby
How do I safely store my expressed breast milk?
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:
- At 32–39° F: eight days
- At 59–60° F: 24 hours
- At 66–71.6° F: 10 hours
- At room temperature (about 79° F): four to six hours
In the freezer:
- In the freezer compartment inside a refrigerator (such as those found in hotel mini-bars): two weeks
- In the freezer of a refrigerator/freezer (side-by-side and top- or bottom-door models): three to four months
- In a deep-freeze freezer, with a temperature of ° F: six months
How do I get my milk home?
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.”
How do I thaw my milk?
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.