Storing Breast Milk
Breastfeeding and storing breast milk can be a tricky task. After spending hours pumping milk, you want to make sure your liquid gem is stored properly. In this article, you’ll learn all about proper milk storage, including how long can breast milk be stored in the freezer.
How Long Can Breast Milk Be Stored in The Freezer
If you’re a working mom or one who doesn’t have a lot of time with your baby, you can choose to store breast milk rather than make formula for your little one to drink when you’re not around. Although freshly expressed breast milk is better than refrigerated or frozen milk, you may not always have the option to provide fresh breast milk.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you can store expressed breast milk in the fridge for up to 8 days. However, it’s best to have your baby drink the stored breast milk within the first 4 days of storage. This is because the breast milk’s fat digestive enzyme and anti-infection benefits are at their peak at this point. To keep the milk cold, store it on the bottom part of the shelf at the back of the fridge and avoid storing it in the door.
If you don’t plan to use the stored milk within its first 4 days of storage, it’s recommended to store it in the freezer within 24 hours after pumping. You can store breast milk inside the freezer for up to 9 months. However, if you have a deep freezer or a chest freezer, you can store it for up to 1 year. To keep the milk frozen, store it at the back of the freezer.
How to Freeze Breast Milk
The best storage option for freezing breast milk is using breast milk freezer bags. You can choose between two-once or four-ounce storage bags. Here are some tips in storing breast milk in the freezer:
- After filling in the storage bags with breast milk, leave a little room at the top of the bag to give room for the milk to expand when it freezes.
- Write the date when it was pumped on the bag, so you’ll know when you need to use it and when to throw it out.
- Don’t use disposable bottles or other types of plastic bags for breast milk storage.
- If you want to make sure the bags won’t tear, you can also put them inside a plastic container with a lid.
- Wash all storage bottles or bags with hot, soapy water before using them for breast milk storage and make sure to dry them well. You can also put them in the dishwasher, but make sure not to use chemical disinfectants.
How to Thaw Breast Milk After Freezing
There are many ways to thaw your breast milk. Here are some thawing methods you can try:
- Transfer it to the fridge overnight to thaw.
- Run the storage bottle or bag under warm water.
- Put the storage bottle or bag in a container filled with warm water.
Regardless of the thawing method you choose, keep in mind that it’s better to thaw your breast milk slowly for less fat loss. Quick thawing can cause the breast milk to lose antibodies.