You’ve pumped milk and baby aren’t quite ready for it yet. So what next? How do you store expressed milk? You have three options.
At room temperature
You can leave freshly expressed milk in a room where the temperature is between 16 -27 deg C, for 3 to 6 hours. Any warmer, then it’s best to use the milk within 4 hours after expressing. If you decide to use ice packs in a bottle warmer or place the milk in an insulated cooler with ice then it can stay fresh for 24 hours maximum.
In a fridge
If you decide to store the freshly expressed milk in a refrigerator where the temperature is 4 deg C or lower, make sure you put it at the back of the fridge where the temperature is more constant, away from the walls or door. You’ll find the milk will remain fresh for the next three to eight days but to be safe, use within five days of storage. If you don’t know the temperature regulation of your fridge, make sure you use up the stored milk by the third day (it’s always best to err on the side of caution).
If you decide to use the freezer segment of your fridge to store the milk till it’s frozen solid, then it can remain fresh for two weeks. I wouldn’t advise storing your milk till its frozen solid because of the epileptic power situation in Nigeria but if you can maintain steady power to your fridge for that period of time then by all means do.
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In a deep freezer
If you store your milk in a freezer whose temperature is -18 deg-C or less, the milk will remain fresh for six to twelve months; we recommend consuming the milk by the 6th month for optimal quality. Remember all these are based on the consistency of power supply to your freezers.
- When storing the milk, use plastic containers or plastic bags specifically designed to store milk.
- Leave some space in the bottle for expansion of the liquid.
- Store the expressed milk with dated labels, making sure you use it based on first-in-first-out.
- Store small quantities of the milk per time like 30-120ml that you know your baby can eat in one feed so it’s easy to defrost.
- To defrost frozen milk, leave in the refrigerator overnight or run under cool water. To warm refrigerated milk, put it in a bowl of warm water or under warm running water. Do not microwave or boil pumped breast milk in an attempt to warm it.