Breastfeeding can take a lot of time and effort. It is why mummies will do what they can to avoid wasting a single drop of breast milk that they have painstakingly pumped for their baby. Efficient storage containers, like the ones in our newborn gift set, come in handy when your baby is hungry.
When storing your milk, there are things you need to keep in mind to keep it in good condition. Here are five things you should know about breast milk storage
1. Storing Breast Milk
Proper breast milk storage preserves its quality and freshness, ensuring optimal benefits for the baby. Improper can lead to bacteria growth and nutrient degradation. Appropriate methods extend safe use post-expression, maximising pumping efforts.
How do I store breast milk in the fridge?
- Wash your hands thoroughly before handling the milk or sterilised bottles to prevent contamination.
- Label the breast milk storage bottle with the date and time of expression to keep track.
- Express milk using a manual or electric breast pump. Hegen’s breast pumps, like the Manual Breast Pump Module, attach directly to the breast milk storage bottles to minimise wastage and oxidisation.
- Once you’ve expressed the milk, switch the breast pump attachment to the breast milk storage bottle lid to store it in the fridge.
- Place the breast milk storage bottles at the back of the fridge where it's the coldest, and use the oldest breast milk first. Avoid placing near strong-smelling foods. You can use the colour coding and snap-on connecting buttons to create a milk organisation system.
- Store breast milk in the fridge for up to three days.
How do I store breast milk in the freezer?
- Follow steps 1 to 4 above to prepare the storage bottles and express breast milk cleanly and safely. Fill to about an inch below the brim to allow space for the milk to expand when it freezes.
- Place the breast milk storage bottles at the back of the freezer, using the colour coding and snap-on connecting buttons to keep track of the milk you store.
- Ensure you use a freezer-safe breast milk storage bottle like Hegen’s multifunctional PPSU containers that can withstand extreme temperatures.
- Store breast milk in the freezer for up to six months.
How long can I store breast milk?
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention from the United States recommends that breast milk that has just been expressed should be kept for only up to four days in the chiller and no more than four hours at room temperature of 25°C or lower.
Some mothers may also prefer to store their breast milk in the freezer as it helps to give it a much longer shelf-life. When using this storage method, it is best to keep it in the freezer for up to six months. The longest you should do so would be 12 months.
Can I combine room temperature breast milk with chilled breast milk?
It is not recommended to combine breast milk at different temperatures. Bring both milk to the same temperature before combining them. If you are combining breast milk expressed on different days or times, the storage life of the combined bottle will take the shelf life of earlier expressed milk.
2. Safe Thawing of Breast Milk for Feeding
Safe thawing of breast milk preserves its nutritional value and protective properties. Avoid uneven heating, which can harm its structure and create hot spots. Proper thawing ensures milk retains essential nutrients and antibodies for your baby's health.
How do I defrost and warm breast milk for feeding?
- Defrost frozen breast milk by placing it in the fridge for around 12 hours.
- For quick defrosting, hold the storage bottle under warm running water or place it in a bowl of warm water. Avoid defrosting frozen breast milk at room temperature.
- Keep thawed breast milk in the fridge for up to 24 hours or at room temperature for up to two hours, after which it should be discarded. Thawed breast milk should not be frozen again, even if it wasn’t transferred from the storage bottle or fed to your baby.
- Full-term babies in good health can drink room temperature or warmed milk, according to their preference. To warm up room temperature or chilled breast milk before feeding, use a bottle warmer or place the storage bottle in a bowl of warm water to bring the milk to a body temperature of around 37ºC. Avoid using a microwave as it can overheat the milk.
Can I heat frozen breast milk directly?
Thaw frozen breast milk in the refrigerator before heating it up. If you need to thaw frozen breast milk for immediate use, place it under warm running water or in a bowl of warm water until it thaws. Avoid directly heating the milk in the microwave or on the stove to get it up to temperature quickly, as it might not be heated evenly. Breast milk that is heated to above 40ºC would also lose its nutrients. Always check the temperature of the milk to ensure it is not too hot before offering it to the baby.
3. Temperature Sensitivity of Breast Milk Storage
Storing breast milk correctly is crucial for preserving nutrition and preventing bacteria. For short-term storage, room temperature is sufficient. For longer durations, use coolers, fridges, or freezers. Avoid temperature fluctuations: place milk bottles on fridge shelves, not door compartments, for stability.
4. Use a Proper Breast Milk Storage Container
Choosing the proper breast milk storage, like Hegen's PPSU bottles, is vital for preserving milk's nutrition and freshness. These bottles prevent contamination, accommodate milk expansion during freezing, and minimise wastage by allowing direct pumping. Proper storage ensures nutrient-rich milk for babies.
What type of containers should I use for storing breast milk?
The best ways to store breast milk would be in BPA-free glass or plastic milk containers. Ensure they are air-tight and sealed to prevent contamination, maintaining the integrity of breast milk for your baby’s consumption.
Pouring milk between bottles or bags can be a hassle, resulting in wastage between transfers.Hegen’s Express-Store-Feed ecosystem allows you to pump, store and feed all in a single bottle. Hegen’s unique Sqround (square-round) shaped bottle is stackable with interconnecting lids, allowing for efficient storage in the refrigerator. Made of PPSU, which can withstand temperatures of -18ºC to 180ºC, you can safely chill, freeze or heat the milk in the Hegen PPSU breast milk storage containers.
5. Important Tips to Note When Storing Breast Milk
There are essential steps and guidelines to storing breast milk and ensuring your milk retains its nutritional value and stays safe for your baby.
- When preparing breast milk in a storage container to be frozen, leave an inch of space instead of filling it to the brim, as the liquid will expand as it solidifies. This allows the milk to expand as it freezes, preventing the container from cracking or bursting.
- Label the date and time you expressed your breast milk on your storage container for efficient organisation to easily keep track of your milk’s freshness.
- Practise a "first-in, first-out" storage system, which means using the oldest breast milk first. This rotation ensures no milk is wasted and your baby consumes it within its optimal freshness.
- Thaw the oldest milk first. Avoid thawing in hot water or the microwave, as it may lead to nutrient loss or uneven heating.
- Once breast milk has been thawed, it should not be re-frozen. If your baby doesn't finish a bottle, the leftover milk can still be used within two hours if kept at room temperature or within 24 hours if promptly refrigerated.
Streamlining Breast Milk Storage with Hegen
Breastfeeding can be demanding, but an efficient system and method of breast milk storage will allow other caregivers to feed the baby when mummy needs a break or returns to work. Here at Hegen, we have designed an organised ecosystem, aiding mothers using a manual or electric breast pump to express directly into our containers, reducing milk wastage.
Our unique baby bottles swiftly transition from feeding to secure storage. Our innovative, stackable design ensures organised breast milk storage. Simplify breastfeeding and optimise your baby’s nutrition with Hegen. Explore more on our website.