Rashmi Hospital

Centre for Minimally Invasive Surgery & Maternity

190, Double Road, Indiranagar Bangalore 38

Tel: 25253311, 25251573, 25251139, 25200447

For Maternity, Gynaecology & ENT: 9880108844/9980015424

Keyhole surgeries performed

E-Mail: info@rashmihospital.com

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All your 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 your baby.

What containers should you use?

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 use.

  • 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 milk?

The method that you will use to store your breast milk is dependant on when you want to use the milk to feed your baby:

  • 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 hours

  • 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 containers

  • 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 milk?

  • 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 tastes sour.

  • 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.