There's no use crying over spilt milk... unless it's milk you spent 40 minutes pumping during your lunch break inside a break room where some co-worker just ate tuna salad with a hard-boiled egg. And spilt milk isn't the only fear a pumping mom has. Chances are, she's also concerned with how to make breast milk last longer so she's not dumping ounce after ounce of ruined milk down the drain.
With so much information out there about storing breast milk, it's easy to get overwhelmed and worry that you're messing something up. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the easiest way to make breast milk last as long as possible is to follow safe storing and preparation tips to keep the milk as fresh and clean as possible.
In short? Treat it like breast milk. You don't have to have fancy bottles or pumps or a state-of-the art fridge to keep your pumped breast milk as fresh as possible. When you pump, make sure your hands are clean and freshly washed to keep the milk clean. According to Baby Center, that goes for your pumping accessories and bottles, too. Everything needs to be clean and sanitized.
When you do pump, make sure to store it in an actual breast milk container. Whether that's a bottle with an air-tight storage lid or a breast milk storage bag, make sure your container is approved to hold breast milk. This will definitely extend the life of your breast milk farther than a standard household plastic bag or tupperware container would.
And, regardless of when you want to give your baby the milk, put it on ice or in the refrigerator right away. Room temperature can vary too much to preserve your breast milk, even if you're intending to feed it to your baby within a couple of hours. Baby Center noted that because breast milk can spoil just like any other kind of milk, it's best to store it somewhere cold immediately so you can preserve the nutrients without bacteria being introduced.
Finally, if you're planning on storing your breast milk for a long time, follow the guidelines for how long breast milk can stay fresh and be sure to not store it in the door of your fridge or freezer so it can stay as cold as possible.