How to store expressed breastmilk
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Because of it's mix of vital nutrients it's important to store expressed breastmilk properly. Breastmilk can be stored in clean glass or BPA-free bottles with tight-fitting lids. You can also use milk storage bags, which are designed to be frozen and can be clearly labelled.
Once you've expressed your breastmilk either by hand or by using a manual or electric breast pump, label the date on the storage container so that you can be sure it's still safe to use. Depending on where you're going to be storing your breastmilk, it has a different shelf-life:
- Four to six hours at room temperature (19-26 degrees).
- 24 hours in a cooler with three ice packs (15 degrees).
- 48 hours in a fridge (4 degrees).
- Six to 12 months in a freezer (-12 to -20 degrees).
- Use thawed breastmilk within 24 hours.
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Tips for freezing
- Don't tighten the lids or caps on the bottles immediately after expressing. Rather waist until once the milk is completely frozen.
- Leave two centimetres or so from the milk to the top of the container to allow for expansion when frozen.
- Store the milk in the back of the freezer - not in the door of the fridge.
- Remember to label each bottle or bag clearly with the date it was frozen so that you can keep track of when it should be used by.
Always use a bowl of warm or boiled water to warm up your breastmilk - it may be quicker, but don't ever microwave breastmilk as it breaks down the nutrients. Never refreeze breastmilk that has already been thawed and never add freshly expressed breastmilk to frozen, cool or thawed milk.