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Before using your breast pump, wash your hands with soap and water, to make sure that your expressed milk will be free of germs. You can pump directly into a bottle or bag. Then store the expressed milk in a clean glass or hard plastic container with a secure cap. There are also plastic bags specially designed for milk collection and storage. Breast milk storage bags usually aren’t recommended for long-term storage, because they might spill or leak, or become contaminated more easily than hard-sided containers.
Using a breast pump can help you establish a good supply of breast milk for your baby. Many moms find that it is helpful to keep a supply of expressed milk on hand, for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is to store milk for those times when you have to be away from your baby when it is time to feed. Another is to be prepared for those unexpected emergencies.
You also want to be prepared in case you are unable to breastfeed because of health concerns. Also, you may want to allow other family members to feed the baby, so you can have a break and they can experience the bonding that occurs during feeding.
Whether or not you have to be away from your baby, a breast pump can help you to establish a good milk supply. If you find that you are not producing a lot of milk, pump your breasts more frequently. The simple act of expressing the milk actually helps your breasts to produce more. This will help you to feed your baby with Nature’s perfect food, and even produce some extra milk to store for later use.
Many moms find that it is helpful to start building a supply of milk right after the baby is born. You can store your milk in the freezer in appropriate bottles or bags. Then you will always have a store of the best possible nutrition for your baby.
Once you have established a good supply of breast milk, you may want to store some to use later or to bring to your daycare provider to feed your baby, or even to allow other family members to feed the baby.
You can always place the milk storage bags in a sturdy plastic food storage container with a tightly sealed lid, or a sealable freezer storage bag designed for general household use. However, don’t store your breast milk directly in a general household freezer bag, or in a disposable bottle liner. These are not designed for long-term storage of breast milk, and certain components of breast milk might adhere to the soft plastic, which could deprive your baby of essential nutrients.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made recommendations for the storage of breast milk. It can be kept at room temperature for six to eight hours; any longer than that and it should be stored in a refrigerator or insulated cooler.
Refrigerated milk should be used within 5 days. Store it in the back of the main part of the refrigerator, which has the most consistent cold temperature. Never store breast milk in the door of the fridge, which will not keep it reliably cold.
In the freezer compartment of a refrigerator, milk can be stored for 2 weeks. Again, the back of the freezer compartment is best.
If you have a freezer compartment with a separate door, you can store your breast milk frozen for 3 to 6 months.
In a chest or upright deep freezer, it will be good for 6 to 12 months.
Be sure to use a waterproof label and with a permanent marker write the date you expressed the milk on the container. If you’re bringing the milk to your child care facility, put your baby’s name on the label, too. It’s best to store milk in small batches so that your baby will consume all of one batch. Also, breast milk expands as it freezes, so don’t fill the container all the way up and use the oldest milk first.
Can I add freshly expressed breast milk to already stored milk?
It’s okay to add freshly expressed breast milk to milk that you have expressed earlier in the same day, as long as you cool the fresh milk first before adding it to refrigerated or frozen milk. Adding warm breast milk to frozen breast milk can cause the frozen milk to partial thaw, which can stimulate bacterial growth. Be sure to store milk in a separate container for each day that you express it.