Breastmilk Storage

Breastmilk storage. For many working mothers, this is a topic of concern. We want to preserve as many nutrients in the milk as possible, though we don’t always have the means to refrigerate the milk right away. How is one to know what is and isn’t acceptable for milk storage, and whose guidelines to follow? After hearing everything from fresh milk being safe at room temperature for 4 hours to fresh milk being safe at room temperature for 24-hours, I decided to run with the La Leche League recommendations. The entire article can be found on their website at

A few rules about breast milk storage:
  1. Hands and materials (pump, storage containers, etc.) should always be washed with hot, soapy water prior to use.
  2. Pump materials and bottles should be sterilized (keep in rapidly boiling water for at least 10 minutes) prior to first use.
  3. Storage for donations of breast milk may be different. These are only guidelines based on research using milk for personal use with babies who are healthy and full-term
  4. Most places suggest storing in 2oz increments so that milk isn’t wasted when using it.

According to La Leche League…

  • at room temperature (66-78°F, 19-26°C) for 4 hours (ideal), up to 6 hours (acceptable) (Some sources use 8 hours)
  • in a refrigerator (<39°f)72 hours (ideal); up to 8 days (acceptable)
  • in a freezer (-0.4 to -4°F, -18 to -20°C) for 6 months (ideal) up to 12 months (acceptable)

Now on a personal note:
I work 6 days a week right now and the only thing my 3-month old daughter gets is breastmilk. Working and breastfeeding can be done with a little juggling around of things. The biggest misconception is that breastfeeding is more work than formula feeding. Though we’ve never tried formula, I’m pretty sure that it’s easier for me to undo my bra at night and bring my daughter to me rather than get out of bed, prepare a bottle, sit up while she eats, etc., etc.. 😉

I feed my daughter before I leave for work, pump twice while at work (9 hours total that I’m away from her), and then immediately upon getting back to her after work. I use a Lansinoh double electric breast pump and try to get 5+ ounces into one storage bottle per pumping session. The whole thing takes me about 20 minutes to do per session, and I just place the bottles in my bag, leaving them at “room temperature” until I get home and place them in the fridge. I prefer to immediately place the fresh milk next to an ice pack, but this doesn’t work out as often as I’d like. So far, we’ve never had a problem with this storage solution!

My daughter drinks the milk that I’ve pumped the previous day, so it never sits in the fridge too long. I also place any extra milk in ziploc or breastmilk storage freezer bags in 4-6 oz increments in our separate compartment freezer (I put it in the back and build a little “wall” in front of the bags using other freezer food). It’s important to consider what type of freezer unit you’re using to decide how long the milk is “safe” in your freezer. The best freezer is one that is completely separate from the fridge (like a chest) and is rarely opened–in this condition, I’ve read that the milk can be stored up to a year! The worst would be a freezer compartment located inside of your fridge and can only keep milk good for about a week.

We rewarm and thaw milk by submerging the container or bag in warm water and swirling to “re-mix” the milk since it separates while sitting. The good news is that you can reuse previously frozen milk if your baby doesn’t eat it all; just use it at the next feeding and no later.

What are some other guidelines that you follow for breastmilk storage?

3 thoughts on “Breastmilk Storage

Add yours

  1. I pretty much do the same thing as you momma, except my work has “mother’s rooms” where we can go and pump and store milk in a small fridge. I’m lucky in that regard.

    Thanks for the blog! I found you on DS… SN is hylndlas. 🙂


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