Storing Milk

In fact, we can't guarantee that we can breastfeed our baby directly every time. It may be necessary to provide extra breast milk to the baby due to work, going out, etc., and let the father or other family members help to feed the baby.
Meanwhile, the amount of milk a mother pumps can vary depending on the time of day, the location or environment where you pump, accessibility, or whether you feel uncomfortable. The growth of the baby leads to an increase in milk intake, or the mother takes some drugs during breastfeeding for some reasons, etc., which will cause a ""mismatch"" between the supply and demand of breast milk. So we often need to pump and store milk to ensure that the baby has enough safe breast milk.
Here we discuss common issues with breast milk storage.

How to store breast milk?
1. Prepare breast pumps and milk storage utensils, usually milk storage bags or milk storage bottles. It is best to use products suitable for refrigeration and freezing, with good sealing.
2. After pumping, pour breast milk into a milk storage bag or bottle and label it with the capacity and date and time.
3. Put the milk storage bag or bottle in the refrigerator to refrigerate or freeze. If refrigeration is not available at the workplace, mothers can prepare a special mini-refrigerator to temporarily store breast milk.
1. Do not reuse the milk storage bag to avoid the infection of breast milk due to improper cleaning.
2. When using the milk storage bag or bottle, do not fill it up, only need to fill 8 points or the capacity indicated by the milk storage bag. In order to avoid the milk storage bag not being able to be sealed or the milk storage bag cracking when thawed after freezing, resulting in waste.
3. The baby's one-time consumption can be stored in multiple milk storage bags or milk storage bottles, and the capacity and date labels are attached, which will not cause waste and facilitate feeding.
4. Clean out refrigerators and freezers frequently and discard spoiled milk. Take a smell test and discard any milk that smells sour, even if it hasn't reached its expiration date.

How long does breast milk last?
Whether you store breast milk at room temperature, refrigerate or freeze it, breast milk has a limited lifespan and should be used before it loses its nutrients or becomes sour. Different storage methods can be stored for different periods of time.
1. Store at room temperature. If the stored breast milk is considered to be fed to the child in a short period of time, breast milk can be stored at room temperature. If the room temperature is around 66°F to 77°F (18°C to 25°C), the storage time is generally around 4 hours. Keep breast milk cool and sealed.
2. Refrigerated storage. Store at 40°F (4°C) for 3-4 days. Be sure to store milk in the back of the refrigerator, away from the refrigerator door or other things that might spill the milk. If breast milk has no odor, it can be refrigerated for 48 hours and then frozen.
3. Frozen storage. In a frozen environment, the storage time of breast milk is significantly prolonged, up to about 6-12 months, but the longer the storage time, the lower the nutritional value of breast milk. Best consumed within 6 months.
1. Thawed breast milk should be discarded after use. Do not put it in the refrigerator or refreeze it.
2. Feeding leftovers (the baby has not finished drinking the bottle) should be used within 2 hours after feeding.
3. Frozen or refrigerated breast milk will expand and contract when thawed. Pay attention to the storage capacity of breast milk.
4. If you encounter a power outage or there is no storage conditions such as a refrigerator, you can prepare an incubator or a thermal bag, and add ice cubes or ice packs to temporarily store breast milk.

How to thaw frozen breast milk?
There are two ways to safely thaw frozen breast milk.
1. Take out the frozen breast milk and put it in the refrigerator compartment. It takes about 12 hours to thaw completely, and it is recommended to put it in the refrigerator the night before use.
2. Put the sealed frozen breast milk under warm water to heat it evenly, and wait for the breast milk to thaw.
1. Do not heat breast milk in a microwave oven, as it will destroy the nutrition of breast milk. Hot spots can also develop, which can burn the baby's mouth.
2. If you thaw breast milk in the refrigerator, please consume it within 24 hours of thawing.
3. Do not refreeze breast milk after thawing.
4. Be sure to thaw the oldest breast milk first. Remember first in first out. The quality of breast milk decreases over time.

How to warm up breast milk?
Breast milk does not have to be heated, it can be drunk at room temperature or cold, depending on your baby's actual situation. If breast milk is to be heated, attention must be paid to it, and if the method is not correct, the nutrients in it will be destroyed.
Here are three proper heating methods.
1. Water isolation heating method. Put the container of milk in a bowl of warm water and shake the container occasionally to heat it evenly while soaking.
2. Warm milk machine heating method. Set the temperature of the milk warmer at a suitable temperature, and heat the breast milk in water, and the temperature is easier to control.
3. Constant temperature milk mixer heating method. Set the right temperature to warm your breast milk. In the case of frozen breast milk, there may be layers of stratification, which is normal. Just shake it gently to mix it well before feeding.
1. Use your fingers to swirl it before serving to your baby to ensure a consistent temperature to mix the top cream layer with the bottom water layer.
2. Test the temperature before feeding your baby to avoid burning their mouth or throat.
3. Do not heat breast milk on the stove, in boiling water, or in the microwave. Breast milk can be heated unevenly, and excessive heat can destroy breast milk nutrition.
4. If breast milk is at room temperature or after heating, give it to your baby within 2 hours.

Click here for more information on breast milk storage guidelines from the CDC.