Storing expressed breast milk
There are two options to store breastmilk – bottle containers and plastic bag.
Plastic bag is cheaper and more space saving but they may spill, leak or become more easily contaminated.
I prefer plastic bottle containers that can be kept covered and keep it clean by washing in hot soapy water and rinsing in hot clear water. Bottle containers used a lot of space in the fridge, however I can sterilised the bottle before storing breastmilk. Sometimes, I will express directly into the container if use hand expressing.
When using Medela breast pump, I will attached the storage bottle directly to breast pump because it is same size. Then, I will store it in the fridge/ freezer. However, my Spectra M1 breast pump cannot use the storage bottle because of different size. (Try to buy storage bottle which is can be attached directly to your breastpump directly. It saves a lot of time because less items to be washed)
Store milk in amounts equal to what baby takes at one feeding. I will combine breast milk expressed throughout the day to get the desired volume. (Note: Do not add warm milk to frozen milk because this will partially thaw the frozen milk). Each container is labelled with the date. Use the oldest milk first.
In room temperature, breastmilk can be stored for 2 hours. In refrigerator, 5days and freezer 6months.
For my first child, I followed the advice from what I read about breastfeeding. I practise FIFO (first in-first out) and will feed my daughter the oldest milk first. However, I feel that some nutrients is lost from frozen breastmilk. And older generation family doesn’t like the idea of feeding a newborn baby frozen milk.
For my second child, I use my own method. I will express enough for everyday use and store extra in the freezer. Every 2months, I will use all the milk in the freezer following FIFO. And the frozen milk will finished in a week. My daughter will have fresh breastmilk for 7weeks & 1week frozen milk.
Example, I can get 10Oz in on pumping session and 4times a day during the first month after delivery.
9am: 3bottles of 2Oz & 1bottle 4Oz
4pm, 9pm, 4am: 1bottle 2Oz & 2 bottles 4Oz
(Note: 6bottles of 2Oz is my daughter daily intake as she drink 2Oz every 2hours. So, I will store 7 bottles of 4Oz in the freezer which she will consume when she is 3months.)
Thawing of Breast Milk
Because frozen breast milk will be thawed slowly in a refrigerator and need to be used within 24 hours. If need to use the milk tomorrow, I will remove it from the freezer and put in the refrigerator the night before. There will be times where I forgot or need the frozen breastmilk instantly, I will keep twisting the bottle under running tap water so that every part of the bottle is thawed. (Note: Do not boil milk or heat it on the stove, over a direct fire or in a microwave oven. Heating in a microwave oven destroys some of its properties and can burn the baby’s mouth.)
When baby need to drink milk, I will put the bottle in a cup of hot water and keep twisting the bottle so that it is heated evenly. Warm only the amount of milk that will be used at one feeding because Milk cannot be stored once it has been warmed.
For my 2nd child, I bought warmer to warm the milk as I thought that it the the better way. However, the warmer will keep warm the breastmilk and it will get too hot if forgot to turn it off. Because I will try to warm the breastmilk about 30minutes before the next intake but sometimes the baby keep sleeping and wake up for milk 1 hour later than scheduled. So, I will prefer the traditional way: Warm the milk in the cup/ bowl of warm water.