How you store your breastmilk depends on how soon you want to use it. If you plan to use it within a few days, refrigerating is better than freezing. Freezing milk will mean that it loses some of the nutrients that fight infection, but frozen breastmilk is still better for your baby than formula (my baby is on both so no hard feelings 😂).
If you’re returning to work, try to get into the routine of expressing and storing your breastmilk. This will keep your milk supply up, and your baby can continue to get the benefits of your milk, even when you’re not with him.
You can store your breastmilk to keep it fresh for your baby in a number of ways:
At room temperature (no more than 26 degrees C), for up to six hours.
In a cool box, with ice packs, for up to 24 hours.
In a fridge for up to five days. Store it in the back of the fridge, where it’s coldest, away from meat, eggs, or uncooked foods.
In a fridge’s freezer compartment, for two weeks.
Please ensure you stick to these rules:
1. Use sterilized containers. Opt for plastic bottles or plastic breastmilk bags.
2. Keep your breast pump clean. Wash the parts in hot, soapy water, and rinse them thoroughly before sterilizing.
3. Wash your hands before expressing and handling breastmilk for storage. Keeping everything as clean as possible will make it less likely that bacteria will grow in your stored milk.
If your milk has been stored for some time, you may notice that it separates. This is normal, so just give it a gentle shake to mix it up again. Some babies will happily drink cold milk straight from the fridge, while others like it warmed up. You can warm the milk by placing the sealed bottle or bag in a bowl of warm water.
If you want to freeze your milk, do it as soon after expressing as possible.