Baby drinking from a bottle. 

The Safe Storage of Breast Milk

Oversupply Jan 20, 2021

Safe Breast Milk Storage for Breastfeeding Moms

Some mothers with an oversupply might want to store extra milk for donations to a milk bank. Or maybe you are a mother who has to go back to work and need to start bottle-feeding breast milk. There are many reasons why you might need to start expressing your milk.

Expressed breast milk can help a mother feed her baby when she cannot physically breastfeed.

Freezing breastmilk for later use can be convenient and can also take some of the breastfeeding strain off of the mother and give her a break so that a partner can get a chance to feed the baby too.

Breast milk often has a "soapy" or "sour" smell after being defrosted. Is the milk still safe? Read more here.

You must store your milk properly so that its nutritional qualities are kept. Human milk contains anti-bacterial properties that keep it fresher for longer. Most of the breastmilk's nutritional value is preserved during freezing.

If you or your baby has had a yeast (thrush) infection, you can continue breastfeeding and freeze your milk. Still, when the infection has ended, you should get rid of any extra breast milk, as the yeast in the milk is not destroyed via freezing and might infect you and your baby again.

How long does breast milk last? It can be kept frozen for six months. It can also be held at room temperature for up to eight hours due to its saving properties.

How to store breast milk safely…

baby with bottle, cute baby, sweet baby, baby with breast milk bottle
Baby drooling.

Breastmilk Storage Guidelines

  • Storage of breast milk at the back of the freezer compartment is safer, as it may lose its temperature every time it is opened.
  • Milk should be stored in clean plastic breast milk bottles, glass bottles, or breast milk bags. A breastmilk storage bag should be thrown away after use. Breastmilk storage bottles should be washed properly with hot water and soap and then rinsed.
  • The milk that has been standing will separate, causing the fat to float to the top of the milk. The milk should be swirled together before heating so that it can remix.
  • Breast milk should never be thawed in a microwave oven.
  • Breast milk should also never be refrozen.
  • Breast milk can also be stored in a portable cooler bag that contains ice packs for up to 24 hours.
  • All breast milk storage containers should be marked with a date and time. Breast milk pumped in the morning should be fed to the baby in the morning, as it can be compared to an adult drinking an espresso! If you give "morning" breast milk to your baby at night, they will most probably struggle to sleep. "evening" Breast milk has also been found to help a baby sleep longer stretches.
  • Fresh breast milk should be cooled down in the fridge before adding it to any other milk for freezing. Milk can be layered in this way but should be kept in quantities used for one feeding.

How to Thaw Breastmilk
“Defrost Breast Milk"

  • Breastmilk should be kept in the refrigerator while thawing. Milk can also be run under some warm water for a few minutes.
  • Can you reheat breast milk? You should not warm breast milk more than twice; reheating breast milk can cause the growth of harmful bacteria and can make your baby ill.
  • When heating breast milk, never boil it, as this will destroy its immune qualities.
  • Previously thawed breast milk can be kept in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  • After breast milk has been thawed, it should be used within a day and never refrozen.
  • Thawing temperature below...

Storing Breast Milk Temperatures

• Safe breast milk refrigeration.

- 15 degrees C ~ 24 hrs

- 22 degrees C ~ 10 hrs

- 25 degrees C (Room temperature) ~ 4 hrs

• Freezing breast milk.

- Freezer compartment on refrigerator ~ 2 weeks

- Separate freezer on refrigerator ~ 4 months

- Separate deep freezer ~ Up to 6 months

• Thawing breast milk.

- Can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours

- Thawed breast milk should not be refrozen.

How to Store Breastmilk


Tracy Behr

Mom of two, breastfeeding helper, qualified nutritionist and lover of all things natural! Studying a breastfeeding counselor course via Childbirth int.

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