Breast Milk Storage Basics

Everything you need to know about how (and how long!) to store breast milk.

Breast Milk Storage Basics

Storing breast milk can be confusing! What's the best way to store it? For how long? What are the rules when it comes to using stored milk? Here is a quick breakdown, some helpful tips and a chart for easy reference: What to do Directly After Pumping:

  • After each pumping session, write the date on the storage container for easy organization in the freezer. If you’re giving the milk to a caregiver or day care provider, make sure to write your child's name as well.
  • Refrigerate or chill the container right after pumping. This can mean putting in a cooler bag with ice packs, straight into a fridge or into the freezer for later feedings.
What to Store Breast Milk in:
  • Breast milk can be safely stored in glass, hard plastic bottles, or polyethylene milk storage bags especially designed for storing human milk.
  • Breast milk storage bags are designed to protect the nutrients and anti-infective qualities of the milk.
  • Breast milk storage bags come in a variety of sizes so that when you are ready to use, you can thaw in appropriate amounts.
Where and How to Store your Breast milk:
  • When storing in the freezer or the refrigerator, it is best to store in the back and not on the doors, so it lessens the chance of warm air getting at the container.
  • It can be easiest to store milk in 2-4oz amounts so that you aren't forced to thaw large amounts of milk at a time, which hopefully lessens the chance of waste when you need it later.
  • Try to leave an inch or so from the top of the container to the milk as it will expand when freezing.
When and How to Use Stored Breast milk:
  • There are a few ways to thaw frozen breast milk: Running the container under warm water, letting it thaw in the refrigerator overnight or setting it in a container of warm water to thaw. Never microwave breast milk because there’s a risk you could create hot spots, which could burn your baby or possibly damage the milk.
  • It helps to organize the breast milk containers according to date, using the oldest breast milk first.
  • It's important to swirl the milk around in the bottle or container to mix it up and then test it on your wrist to make sure it is the proper temperature. Milk should never be too warm but can be as cool as you want. Some mothers prefer to serve their baby cooler milk so they don't have to heat it each time.
Guidelines when it comes to Storing Fresh Breast milk: Print this chart and post on your refrigerator for quick reference (especially on those tired eyes!). Happy Pumping!   Source: Lactation Consultant Melanie Venuti Original Illustration by Miranda Bruce.

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.


Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!


Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.


Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌


Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.


Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.


Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.


Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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