Pumping is a wonderful way to store breast milk to provide nutrition for your little one when you are away at work or are not home for the evening. After you’ve taken the time to pump, it’s important to take a few more minutes to store your breast milk properly. Doing so will keep it safe for your baby to consume and will allow you to stockpile your breast milk for future use.
Handling Milk After Your Pumping Session
Congratulations on getting through your first pumping session! After you’ve finished pumping, carefully remove the pump from your breast, taking care not to knock over the storage bottle. If you didn’t wash your hands prior to pumping, it’s a good idea to do so now to prevent germs from entering the milk you’ve pumped.
If you are planning on using the milk soon, pour it carefully into another storage container and store it in the back of the refrigerator. If you want to save it for later use, label a storage container with the date, pour the milk into the container and set it in the back of the freezer. Wash your pump parts in hot, soapy water in order to be ready for your next pumping session.
Milk Storage Guidelines
Use the following guidelines to determine how long it’s safe to store your breast milk:
- Room temperature: 3 to 4 hours
- Insulated cooler with ice packs: 24 hours
- Refrigerator (fresh milk): 3 to 8 days
- Refrigerator (thawed milk): 24 hours
- Freezer (as part of a refrigerator): 6 months
- Deep freezer (separate from refrigerator): 12 months
Recommended Storage Containers
There are several options for storing your pumped breast milk. Always make sure that the container you choose is BPA-free and freezer-safe. Whatever container you choose, make sure to label it with a waterproof marker to ensure the milk you are feeding your baby is safe.
Plastic Storage Bottles
Plastic storage bottles, such as those available with your Ameda pump, can be used to store your milk in the freezer or refrigerator. Carefully place the lid securely on the bottle before storing.
Plastic Storage Bags
Plastic storage bags designed for holding breast milk will allow you to store the milk flat in your freezer, which can make storing large amounts of milk easier by saving space. Because plastic storage bags can occasionally leak, it’s a good idea to place them in a freezer bin to prevent them from making a mess.
Freezer-safe glass jars, such as mason canning jars, may also be used to store your milk. Make sure that they have been properly sterilized before their first use by boiling them in water for 20 minutes and allowing them to air dry. After initially sterilizing the jars, they can be cleaned in hot, soapy water for future use.
Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Milk Storage
The milk I pumped today is a different color than the milk I placed in the freezer last week. Is this normal?
The taste, odor, consistency and color of your milk will vary slightly depending on your diet. These colors can include light yellow, blue and green hues. Once it’s frozen, the milk will separate into layers, with the creamy, fat layer rising to the top. After thawing your milk, gently swirl the milk in the bottle to combine these layers again.
I didn’t pump very much milk this morning. Can I add more milk that I’ve pumped today to this portion?
Yes, you can. New milk can be added to previously refrigerated or frozen breast milk. It should never be added while it is still warm, however. Chill the new milk in the refrigerator before adding it to the milk you previously pumped and stored.
My baby normally drinks six ounces of milk, but only drank four this morning. I hate seeing my milk go to waste. How can I prevent this?
Your baby may eat smaller or larger amounts of milk at times. This can depend on his or her growth spurts and mood. Try storing your milk in two-ounce or four-ounce portions to prevent milk from going to waste.
You’ve done the hard work and arranged the time to pump. Take the time to store your pumped milk correctly to provide your little one healthy milk for months to come. With Ameda’s breast pumping accessories and freezer-safe breast milk storage bags and bottles, you can safely preserve your breast milk with ease.