How to store, defrost and warm expressed breast milk
Expressing breast milk is, if possible, a good idea.
Reasons for expressing breast milk:
- If the baby is born before term, it may not be strong enough to suck at the breast
- Expressing milk may help boost mum’s supply of milk
- Give sore nipples a break
- If you are going back to work
- Allows Dad to help with feeding baby
- To releave breast engorgement
However, expressing breast milk is not easy and consequently, you want to make sure the expressed milk is stored in the best possible way.
Store your expressed breastmilk cool
Be careful about hygiene when expressing breast milk. Always use a clean and sterile breast pump as well as clean containers suitable for breast milk. This may be baby bottles, small plastic bags suitable for breast milk or food, or small BPA-free plastic containers.
Remember to mark the containers with date and the amount of milk.
Put the milk in the fridge as quickly as possible after expression. And keep it in the back of the fridge where it is coldest. Do not keep it in the refrigerator door where the temperature is higher.
Expressed breast milk can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. In a freezer, you can keep breast milk for 6 months.
Especially when storing in the freezer, it is an advantage to store the milk in small bags / containers and combine several containers for a bigger feed, rather than having to throw out milk because you are thawing or warming too much.
How to defrost breast milk
- Defrost breast milk slowly in the refrigerator. It takes about 12 hours (depending on amount).
- Do not defrost breast milk at room temperature.
- For quicker defrosting, hold the container under warm running water – the water temperature must never exceed 40 degrees. If thawed like this, the milk must be used immediately.
- Milk that has been frozen may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours after it has finished thawing.
- Never refreeze.
Warming breast milk
It is important not to overheat breast milk, as valuable nutrients will be lost if heated too much.
If you are using warm water in a waterbath, make sure the water temperature does not exceed 45 degrees.
If warming in the microwave, use milkymeter to make sure you do not overheat. Warming in microwave is 10 times faster than in a bottle warmer. When you use milkymeter, it will flash a green light when the milk approaches body temperature to give you time to stop the microwave before overheating or dangerous hotspot can develop. This makes it both fast and safe for warming breast milk.
Read more about how milkymeter works.