27 Feb How to Store Your Breast Milk Correctly
Expressing and storing your breast milk keeps your milk supply flowing and allows your baby to keep enjoying their favourite snack even when you can’t be there ( like infant Uber Eats!).
Whether you’re headed back to the office, your partner takes on some feedings, or you’re leaving your little one with the grandparents (hello date night!). Whatever the reason, storing your breast milk is a great solution.
Since that you’ve gone through the effort of expressing and collecting your milk (made easy by the Pigeon Electric Pump *wink*), it would be a real shame to waste it because of incorrect handling and storage… No, No, don’t panic! That’s why we’re here!
How you store your breast milk will depend on when you want to use it. Allow me to elaborate…
If, for example, you plan on serving up a feast for you baby within the next week, pop it in the fridge.
Need longer storage? Off to the freezer it goes. Okay, let’s get this show on the road
Storing Your Breast Milk
- Tear away the safety seal at the top of the bag and open the bag by gently pulling the zip-seal apart. Don’t blow into the bag. (We recommend using Pigeon Milk Storage Bags 25 pack with a double zip seal. OOH fancy!)
- Pour collected breast milk into the bag. SPOILER ALERT: Do not overfill – the liquid will expand in the freezer and explode!… You’re welcome! (If using Pigeon Milk Storage Bags, fill up to the 180ml line)
- Carefully squeeze the bag to allow excess air to escape.
- Once all the air has been squeezed out, seal the bag tightly
- Mark the bag with today’s date and off it goes into the fridge or freezer
Ways to Defrost and Warm Your Breast Milk
Hold the Sterilized Breast Milk Storage Bag under running water or put it into a container (a bowl or wide-mouthed glass) filled with 40 lukewarm water. If you defrost it in lukewarm water, replace the water frequently with more lukewarm water. This method is faster than simply soaking the bag in lukewarm water.
Defrosting a 160 ml bag of breast milk under running water (18, weak stream) takes about 30 minutes. Using lukewarm water (40 and changing it every 3 or 4 minutes as it cools) takes about 15 minutes. Transfer the defrosted milk to a nursing bottle and heat it to skin temperature in a double boiler.
*Do not soak the sealed area of the bag in water. *Never use hot water or defrost the milk in a microwave, or heat it in a saucepan on top of the stove.
If breast milk is overheated, the antibodies and other beneficial components in it break down.
Breastmilk Storage Guidelines
|Storage time for breast milk*||Freezer
(Approx. 18 °C)
(Approx. 4 °C)
|Cooler with frozen ice packs
(Approx. 15 °C)
(Approx.19 °C-22 °C)
(Approx.22 °C-26 °C)
|Freshly pumped||3 months||5 days||24 hours||6-10 hours||4-5 hours|
|Thawed in refrigerator, after being frozen||Do not refreeze||24 hours||Do not store||4 hours||4 hours|
|Thawed, Warmed, Not Fed||Do not refreeze||4 hours||Do not store||Until feeding ends||Until feeding ends|
*Storage times may vary for preterm or sick babies. Sources: Jones, F., Best Practice for Expressing, Storing and Handling Human Milk in Hospitals, Homes and Child Care Settings. Raleigh, NC: Human Milk Banking Association of North America, 2011; Mohrbacher, N. Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple: A Guide for Helping Mothers. Amarillo, TX: Hale Publishing, 2010.
Plot twist: Noticed that your stored breast milk has started to separate while storing?
It’s all good! This is completely normal. Just give it a light shake to mix it and you’re back in action.
Helpful hint: Always remember to wash your hands before feeding, pumping or handling breast milk storage bags.
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By Jodi Lee, 2019