Pregnancy and birthPregnancy and childbirth

How to store breast milk

Breast milk is the best food that can be provided to an infant under two years of age, so all mothers are keen to breastfeed their babies, because of its many benefits for the baby’s physical and psychological health.

Sometimes the mother has to express her breast milk, and fill it in a bottle until the date of feeding the baby instead of feeding him formula, breast milk should be stored in a healthy way that ensures that it does not spoil.

In this article, we explain the correct ways to preserve breast milk after suction, and is it better to store breast milk in the refrigerator or outside ?

Reasons for storing breast milk

The mother always wants to hug her baby and feed him directly from the breast, but she may resort to expressing and storing milk for a number of situations that she may encounter, such as the following :

  • Stay away from the child a number of hours a day to go to work, or hold the child in health care.
  • Breast filling with milk at times when the baby does not want to feed, this can cause pain and congestion in the mother’s breast.
  • The infant’s inability to pick up the nipple well and suck the milk, which is one of the most common reasons for storing breast milk.
  • The mother’s desire to increase milk production, as the pumping device stimulates milk production such as breastfeeding.

Breast Milk Preservation Guide

There are dates or shelf life periods for breast milk, which should not be given to the baby after it has passed, these dates change depending on the date of expressing milk, and whether it is fresh or stored in the cooler before, we explain below the period in which milk is allowed to be provided to the baby :

Freshly pumped milk

This milk is fresh, and can be given to the child according to the following preservation methods :

  • Room temperature : the child can take it within 4 hours of withdrawing it.
  • Refrigerator : the milk remains valid for 4 days in the refrigerator from the time it is withdrawn from the breast.
  • Freezer : milk remains drinkable for 6 to 12 months from freezing.

Previously frozen melted milk

  • Room temperature : it can be given to the baby within one hour of defrosting.
  • Refrigerator : the milk stays in the refrigerator for one day after thawing.
  • Freezer : breast milk should not be frozen again after thawing.

Milk left over from the baby’s feeding

This milk can be used within two hours only, and should not be kept in the refrigerator or freezer after that period, but rather discarded the remainder.

The room temperature is meant to be below 25°C, the refrigerator temperature is below 5°C, and the freezer temperature is -18°C.

Conditions for storing breast milk after pumping

Care must be taken to store breast milk under healthy conditions that prevent its spoilage, such as the appropriate temperatures mentioned above, below we list some of the guidelines that help the mother store breast milk properly, including the following :

  • Wash hands and storage containers thoroughly.
  • Breast milk can be stored after pumping in the refrigerator or freezer in small plastic containers or bags, to prevent waste.
  • The date of milk withdrawal is written on each package before storing breast milk in the freezer, especially due to the long duration of freezing.
  • The baby’s name is recorded on the milk bottle with the defrost instructions, if the baby is in a hospital or care centre.
  • Milk bottles are placed in the back when storing breast milk in the refrigerator and not in the door or drawers.
  • Dissolve breast milk kept in the freezer by leaving it in the refrigerator until completely thawed, or placing it under warm water.
  • Do not microwave breast milk to thaw it from freezing.
  • It is preferable to store breast milk in the freezer immediately after breast pumping, if the mother intends to store it for a long time.
  • It is recommended to leave a vacuum in the containers used to store breast milk in the freezer, as it expands slightly after freezing.

It is always preferable to breastfeed the baby directly from the mother’s breast, to prevent spoilage of milk and to strengthen the relationship between mother and infant, but in emergency cases, the mother is recommended to adhere to the correct methods of storing breast milk in the refrigerator or freezer until the date of use.

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