pregnancy questions answered
Expressing breast milk
Storing breast milk
After you have expressed your
milk you need not have to feed your baby immediately. You could express say in
the morning an adequate quantity to last for the entire day and if you are at
work some other person could [with very explicit instructions from you] feed
What containers should you
There are special containers
available in the market for storage of expressed breast milk [EBM containers]
and these may be used for longer periods of storage. For shorter periods of
storage you may use bottles that are used for formula feeding as inexpensive
alternatives. You would need to properly sterilize these containers as you would
for formula feeding. Disposable small EBM plastic bags are available abroad and
you may try to get a stock of these if possible, as they do not need further
sterilization. Whatever you use you must remember that milk expands on freezing
and therefore you should leave some space at the top of whatever container you
Label the milk container with
the date and time expressed.
If large quantities of milk are
easily expressed, fill several plastic bottles or bags rather than one big
bottle. The baby will only be taking a few ounces in the beginning, so you would
not have to waste the remainder amount. Remember that remaining milk after a
feed should never be refrigerated.
When transporting breast milk
for use away from home, keep it cold until just before use. A small cooler with
ice or frozen packs may be used to keep the milk cold during transport.
Use the oldest milk first.
How long can you store your
The method that you will use to
store your breast milk is dependant on when you want to use the milk to feed your
Within 6-8 hours: You could just
leave the milk in a covered container at room temperature itself
5-7 days: You will need to store
the milk in your refrigerator and just need to bring it to room temperature at
the time of feeding. When refrigerated milk has been brought to room temperature
it has to be used within 30 minutes or else discarded. You cannot keep what your
baby has not finished for the next feed and nor should you re refrigerate it
Upto 2 weeks: In the regular
freezer that is part of a fridge
Upto 3 months: In a freezer
which has a separate door from the refrigerator. If you keep the
milk in the coolest part of your freezer [away from the door] it will stay for a
period of 3 months atleast. This is applicable if the freezer is cold enough to
actually freeze the milk into a completely solid state. This applies ONLY to
freshly expressed milk and maybe milk that has been in the refrigerator for upto
24 hours. Do NOT freeze milk which has been kept in the fridge for more than 24
Upto 12 months: This is possible
in a commercial grade deep freezer and not really advised for home usage
The storage is very important if
you are to avoid contamination and infections.
Use fresh EBM whenever possible
Collect in the clean and sterile
If for refrigeration, then you
must try to refrigerate within 1 hour of expression
If for freezing freeze
immediately on collection
How do you defrost the frozen
Thaw breast milk at room
temperature, or in a bowl of luke warm tap water.
Slow thaw frozen milk by moving
it to the refrigerator first
NEVER MICROWAVE BREAST MILK as
it may create hot spots [which may burn your babies mouth] and destroys some beneficial vitamins and enzymes.
Breast milk components will
often separate when cooled as the cream rises to the top. This does not mean
that the milk is spoilt. Mix the milk by gently shaking.
Do not feed defrosted milk to
your baby until it is completely thawed.
Discard any milk that smells or
Once frozen milk is thawed, it
is better to finish what has been thawed. If the baby does not finish the entire
quantity and the balance amount is small discard it. If the remainder is large
you may re refrigerate it for ONLY UPTO 24 hours and you must smell this milk
again before feeding it to your baby.
Frozen breast milk, which is
thawed in the fridge (but not heated) will last 24 hours in the fridge and four
hours at room temperature. It cannot be refrozen.
If it has been thawed outside
the fridge, using warm water, it will last four hours in the fridge or until
next feeding, and cannot be refrozen.
How should you feed this EBM
to your baby?
You may in the early weeks feed
the baby with a "pallade" or a "wati" and spoon. You should not start EBM with a
bottle in the first month as your baby will then find it difficult to feed from
your breast directly.
After a month you may start to
use a bottle for the EBM [as your baby grows the volume required per feed is
more and it may be quite frustrating to continue with a wati and spoon]. As
always you must take all sterile precautions as you would for formula feeding.