They call it liquid gold for a reason. Pumping your breast milk takes a lot of time and energy, and if you don't know to to take care of your hard won milk properly, all of your hard work will literally go to waste. Learning about the best places to store breast milk will protect it against spoilage, and ensure that it stays as safe and fresh as possible for your baby.
Although you're probably already aware of the most common places to store your milk, knowing the best ways to store it depending on how long it will be until you need it is another story. After you've pumped your milk, you'll need to decide if your baby needs to use it right away, within the next few hours, or over a longer period of time. Your answer to these questions will help you determine the best route to go when storing your milk, and choosing the right one will mean the difference between healthy, nutrient packed breast milk and spoiled milk that has lost many of its benefits.
It might seem complicated at first, but as you go, deciding when to pump and how to store it will become second nature, whether you're pumping everyday, for a big vacation, or a night away from baby.
1. For A Few Hours
If you're planning to use your freshly expressed milk within a few hours or sometime that same day, you have a few different storage options available. According to the Mayo Clinic, breast milk can sit at room temperature for up to six hours (although four is optimal.) So if you're pumping for your baby's next feeding, or for a sitter for your date night later that day, leaving the milk out is probably fine. However, if you won't need it until that night for a midnight feeding, putting it in the fridge will keep your milk the safest.
If you're traveling or taking your milk on the go, you can also keep it on ice for up to 24 hours, according to Baby Center.
2. For A Few Days
Pumping for a few days in advance is a great idea, especially if you will be going on a trip, have to work, or just would like the extra convenience. According to the Mayo Clinic, pumped milk can last in the fridge for up to five days before being used or moved to the freezer.
3. For A Few Weeks Or Longer
If you're building a stock pile of breast milk and won't need it for at least a few weeks or even months down the road, freezing it will be your best bet. In a standard freezer, breast milk can last for up to two weeks, according to Baby Center. If you need more time, a deep freezer will keep your milk safe for up to six months.