All you need to know about breast milk storage
1. Selecting the right containers
The key to breast milk storage is the right choice of containers. It is recommended to use well-sealed glass containers that are suitable for freezing (not feeding bottles). They can be sterilized and used repeatedly, but also take up a lot of space.
The second choice is plastic breast milk storage bags. Compared with glass containers, the bags are lighter and easier to carry and are cheaper. However, they have poorer sealing, which may lead to the contamination of breast milk.
New moms can choose the right storage containers according to their needs.
Tips: Be sure to clean and disinfect glass storage bottles before use and use a steam pot with a drying function. Plastic storage bags do not need to be cleaned or disinfected before use, and they are disposable.
2. Collecting breast milk
You need to wash your hands before collecting breast milk–manually or using a breast pump. When the amount of breast milk reaches 2/3 or 3/4 of the container, you should cap the storage bottle or seal the storage bag, mark the collecting date and time on the container, and then refrigerate or freeze it as soon as possible.
3. Storage of breast milk
Keep a little space in the container for storing breast milk. Don't fill it too much to prevent the container from breaking due to freezing. It is recommended that you divide breast milk into small batches (60-120 milliliters) to freeze or refrigerate, so as to avoid waste.
The breast milk storage bag should be placed upright until the breast milk is frozen. Breast milk should be placed in the back center of the freezer, in order to minimize temperature fluctuations caused by opening and closing the freezer door.
A separate freezer is better if possible. If you use a household refrigerator, you need to vacate an entire compartment to store breast milk separately, and do not place it near raw meat or other food to avoid odor and contamination.
Tips: The following is the recommended storage time of breast milk from the La Leche League International:
Room temperature < 26 C, 4 hours is ideal, 6 hours is acceptable;
Insulated ice pack temperature ≤ 4 C, 24 hours;
Refrigeration temperature < 4 C, 3 days is ideal, 8 days is acceptable;
Freezer compartment of a single-door refrigerator with a temperature of -15 C, 2 weeks;
Freezer with an independent door with a temperature of -18 C, 3-6 months;
Deep freezing with a temperature of -20 C, 6-12 months.
What we recommend:
Room temperature < 25 C, 4 hours;
Freezer compartment temperature of 2-4 C, 24 hours;
Refrigerator freezer temperature of -18 C, 3 months.
4. Thawing the breast milk
When thawing frozen breast milk, you should take it from the freezing compartment and place it in a cold compartment to thaw overnight. Before feeding the baby, heat the thawed breast milk in a bowl of warm water with a temperature of 37-40 C to about 37 C, you can also use a breast milk warmer to quickly heat it.
Tips: Do not heat breast milk directly on a stove or microwave, so as not to destroy the active substances in the milk. Thawed breast milk should be fed to the baby immediately and cannot be frozen again.