Breast milk is often referred to as "liquid gold" for its numerous health benefits and the bond it creates between a mother and her child. Storing breastmilk is an important part of the breastfeeding process, allowing mothers to provide their babies with nourishment even when they are not physically present or unable to breastfeed.
However, it's crucial to store breastmilk safely to ensure that it remains fresh and free from contamination. In this blog, we'll be sharing 10 tips on how to store breastmilk safely, so that you can feel confident in providing your baby with the best possible nutrition.
Breastmilk should never be frozen or heated more than once. So before we get into our top tips; take a screenshot, print this image out or bookmark this page so that you can easily refer back to the breastmilk storage guidelines table.
Here are our ten tips for safely storing breastmilk:
- Use clean, sterile storage containers: The containers you use to store your breastmilk should be clean and sterilised. This helps prevent contamination and ensures that your milk stays fresh. Use steriliser safe containers, pouches or the one-time-use breastmilk storage pouches that can be found in your local chemist.
- Label and date: Labelling and dating your breastmilk containers help you keep track of how long the milk has been stored for. This will help you to identify the oldest milk first and prevent throwing out milk that has been left too long. See below for a table on how long you have to use up breastmilk based on storage methods.
- Top Tip: If you also add the time of when you expressed (especially at night), you can use your night milk in the evenings which will be packed with melatonin to help your little one relax and drift off easier.
- Store breastmilk in small quantities: Storing breastmilk in small quantities will allow you to thaw only what you need for a feed. Once thawed, breastmilk cannot be re-cooled or re-frozen, so whatever is left over, will need to be thrown out.
- Use breastmilk storage bags: These nifty little storage bags are a great option for storing breastmilk because they are designed specifically for this purpose. They come with measurements on the bag, are easy to label and store flat or standing up, depending on your fridge/freezer space.
- Store breastmilk in the back of the fridge or freezer: With fridge doors being opened and shut multiple times a day, this can impact how fresh your milk stays. By storing breastmilk in the back of the fridge or freezer will help to keep it at a consistent temperature and can help to prevent spoilage.
- Don't mix freshly pumped milk with already cooled milk: DO NOT mix freshly pumped milk with milk that has already been cooled or frozen. This can raise the temperature of the cooled or frozen milk & once re-warmed, should not be used again. Only mix milk that is at the same temperature.
- Thaw breastmilk slowly: Thaw your frozen breastmilk slowly either in the fridge or in a bowl of warm water (make sure the water is not too hot). Breastmilk should be warmed gradually as this will help to preserve the wonderful nutrients in the milk.
- Use thawed breastmilk within 24 hours: Once breastmilk has been thawed, it should be used within 24 hours.
- Avoid microwaving breastmilk: Microwaving breastmilk can destroy some of its beneficial properties and create hot spots that can burn your little one’s mouth. Instead, warm breastmilk by placing it in a bowl of warm water or under warm running water.
- Follow safe storage guidelines: Always follow safe storage guidelines for breastmilk. This includes guidelines for how long breastmilk can be stored at room temperature, in the refrigerator, and in the freezer. Refer to the table above for Australian Breastfeeding Associations storage guidelines.
Following these tips and guidelines will help you get the most out of your hard earned stash & avoid potentially wasting milk that you are unable to use.