Of the many complicated and seemingly harrowing chapters of The Saga That Is Breastfeeding, the storage of milk is a big one. Here are a few tips that I spent a LOT of time googling when I was a brand new Mom.
*Caveat: I am NOT a doctor or a lactation consultant or a doula or a breast shaman. If you have questions about the safety of your breast milk before feeding it to your baby, please call your pediatrician!
What to store milk in: Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags
Easy, cheap and they work great. Just pump, pour directly from the Medela Breast Milk Collection and Storage Bottles into these bags, seal it, whip out a sharpie to note the date and quantity, then throw them in the fridge or freezer. You can also store milk in the bottles you pumped into (in the fridge), if you’re planning to use the milk in the next few days.
What to store (frozen) milk bags in: The First Years Breastflow Milk Storage Organizer
I love these “drawers” as they’re called for two reasons: it makes it easy to find space in your freezer for the milk, and easy to organize the bags by date. The drawers are spring-loaded, so whether you have 1 bag or 20 bags in there, it helps the milk freeze “flat” (vertical) to maximize space. I always loaded the most recently pumped milk (aka “boob dump”) in the back of the drawer, so they’re organized by date with the oldest milk in front.
Storage timing guidelines:
How long does freshly expressed milk last at room temperature? 6 hours
How long does freshly expressed milk last in the fridge? 5 days
How long does frozen breast milk last in the freezer? 5-6 months
How long does thawed breast milk last in the fridge? 24 hours
For thawing breastmilk: My favorite way to thaw frozen milk is to fill a measuring cup with hot water and placing the bag in it to thaw out before pouring it into a bottle. It just takes a few minutes. Also: NEVER thaw or heat frozen breastmilk in the microwave – this can cause the milk to lose important nutrients, and because it thaws unevenly, you risk burning your baby’s mouth.
For the stubborn fat: Notice that thin layer of film on the top or side of a bottle of milk you’ve stored in the fridge? That’s the fat, and it’s an important part of the milk to make you nugget big and strong…don’t waste it! If you run warm water on the outside of the bottle (and swish it around) before you dispense it to give to your baby, the fat will mix back into the milk so it doesn’t stick to the inside of the bottle!
Still have unanswered questions about storing breastmilk? Hit me up in the comments!