Storing and using expressed breast milk

  • Before you begin to express, make sure that your have sterilised the container you plan to use for milk storage. The container needs to be clean and then either soaked in sterilising solution or boiled for five minutes.
  • It is best if you express directly into the sterilised container – if you’re using a breast pump, ensure that the bottle that screws onto the pump and collects that milk is sterilised.
  • If you intend to freeze your milk, it’s best to use a plastic container.
  • Seal your milk, label and date it – you don’t want any of your hard-won treasure accidentally being given to the cat!
  • Keep any expressed milk in the back of the fridge – where the temperature is the most consistent.
  • Refrigerated milk can be kept for for 3-5 days, but is best used within 48 hours.
  • If you freeze your milk, you can keep it in a freezer with a separate door for up to 3 months, and a deep freeze for 6-12 months.
  • While you can top up a container of frozen breast milk with newer chilled milk, you can only keep it as long as the oldest milk will allow.

Thawing and warming expressed milk:

  • Slowly thawing expressed milk in the fridge will give you another 24 hours before you need to use it.
  • If you are in a hurry to thaw milk, sit it in a bowl of warm water. If you thaw your milk this way, you’ll need to use it immediately or put it back in the fridge for up to 4 hours.
  • Once milk has been thawed, you can’t refreeze it.
  • If your baby doesn’t finish a bottle of expressed milk, you’ll need to throw it away after approximately 1 hour.

Transporting breast milk:

  • Use a ice pack and an insulated container (like an esky) to safely carry expressed milk. If you are carrying frozen milk, and it is still frozen when you arrive, you can put it back into the freezer.
  • If your milk has thawed, store it in the fridge and use within 24 hours.
  • Once milk has been thawed, you can’t refreeze it.

Microwaving breast milk:

  • It isn’t recommended that the microwave oven be used to thaw breast milk because of the risk of unevenly heating the milk, and the possibility of burning your baby’s mouth.


This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot.

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