Properly pumping and storing breast milk can help ensure that the milk is safe for your baby to consume and that it stays fresh for as long as possible. Here are some general guidelines for pumping and storing breast milk. For more detailed and current information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/recommendations/handling_breastmilk.htm:
- Cleanliness: Before pumping, make sure that your hands and any equipment that will come into contact with the milk are clean. Wash them with hot, soapy water and dry them thoroughly.
- Pumping: When you're ready to pump, position the flanges (the plastic or silicone cups that go over your nipples) of the breast pump correctly and make sure that the vacuum is not too strong or too weak. Experiment with the different settings to find what works best for you.
- Storing: After pumping, transfer the milk to clean and sterile containers such as BPA-free plastic bags. Leave enough room in the container to allow for expansion as the milk freezes.
- Labeling: Label the containers with the date and time that the milk was pumped, so you can keep track of how fresh it is.
- Refrigeration: Freshly pumped milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Freezing: Milk can also be stored in a freezer, either a stand-alone freezer or the freezer compartment of a refrigerator. Breastmilk can be stored for up to 6-12 regardless of the type of freezer it is stored in. For best quality, it should be used within 6-12 months as it begins to lose nutritional value over time.
- Thawing: When you're ready to use the frozen milk, thaw it in the refrigerator or by running it under warm water. Never thaw frozen milk in a microwave or on a stovetop.
It's important to consult with a lactation consultant if you have any concerns or questions about pumping and storing your breast milk.