In most cases, feeding your baby breastmilk directly from your breast will be the most simple and efficient way to feed him, however, this is not always possible and let’s face it, there are many reasons why this might be the case.
Life for us mums is busy! Perhaps you’re heading back to work outside of the home or are pursuing some study. Maybe your partner will be looking after baby every now and again. Perhaps your little one is premature and lacks the ability to suck well or you just want a small bank of milk stored in-case of sickness or emergency? These are all perfect opportunities to consider the expressing and storing of breastmilk.
Before you store it, you’ll need to express it (der). Always make sure the equipment you use has been washed thoroughly in water that’s hot and soapy. Rinse and dry these well and store covered on the bench or in the fridge.
When breastmilk is given away from the breast it’s important to understand and consider how to store it safely. Let’s take a look at our options here.
1. AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
Freshly expressed breastmilk can be stored at room temperature for up to 6-8 hours, if kept below 26 degrees Celsius.
If it has been previously frozen, it can be stored safely at room temperature for 4 hours or less. Any milk not guzzled should be tipped down the sink.
2. IN THE FRIDGE
Pop your breast milk in a closed container or a clean storage bag and date it. Place it in the coldest part of your fridge, which will be at the back. It will be 4 degrees Celsius or lower here and will last 72 hours perfectly.
If it’s been previously frozen, you can be confident your breastmilk will remain fresh-as-a-daisy for a total of 24 hours.
3. IN THE FREEZER
If you have a freezer compartment, inside your fridge, your breastmilk can be safely stored for up to two weeks.
If you have a fridge with a freezer, but they have separate doors from each other, you can store your breastmilk safely for up to three months.
If you’re a family that buys in bulk (like we do), you may have a chest freezer. If it’s not entirely stocked full of half a cow and a quarter of a pig, pop your breastmilk in here happily for a good 12 months.
Even though your breastmilk really is gold and you may have had to work super hard to extract it, do not be tempted to re-freeze it!
PREPARING FROZEN BREASTMILK
Breastmilk that’s been frozen and then left to thaw in the fridge should be used at baby’s next feed (approximately 4 hours later). Discard any milk bub doesn’t drink!
Pop the container your milk is currently stored in into a pot of warm water until thawed. Give milk a little jiggle and a swirl to ensure it’s entirely thawed. Don’t forget to check its temperature before offering it to your little bub.
Microwaves are first-class but don’t use it to thaw or heat breastmilk – they never heat evenly and baby could easily scald his mouth. If you spill a small amount on your wrist, you’ll know it’s the right temperature, if you don’t feel the spillage as it will be neither too hot nor too cold. There are valuable components that microwaves kill-off too, so best to keep that milky goodness away from it and use it for your hot-buttered-popcorn instead!
Your breastmilk now has wings to go wherever it likes (without you). Pop it in anyone’s fridge and be confident it’s fresh and wonderful and waiting for bub’s next feed. Throw it in a bag with an ice-brick and baby’s good to be fed on-the-go for the next four hours.
Breastmilk truly is liquid gold, savour every drop and store it safely so baby can continue to be nourished by all its benefits, regardless of whether you’re able to accompany it or not.
Fresh milky hugs into the ether…..
Mum of six fabulous kids and foster-mum to numerous others. Event manager, doula, childbirth educator, lactation counselor, owner of Sydney Birth Support, Mamaway Advocate and an encourager of all mums out there giving it their best crack!