There are several guidelines that recommend slightly different times for storing and freezing breastmilk. It’s fine if you are close to, but not exactly on target with the schedules.
Stick this guideline on your refrigerator and/or with your baby’s daily supply. That way, everyone who cares for your baby can refer to it.
When expressing and storing milk, always remember to:
• Wash your hands before expressing or pumping milk.
• Use clean containers, glass is preferable.
• If it’s plastic, check that it is BPA free.
Here are general guidelines for storing breast milk:
Freshly Expressed at Room Temperature 4-10 hours. (There’s time to relax a little).
Refrigerator: 5-8 days.
Freezer: 3-4 months.
• Before you store the milk, write the date on it. Then put it in the back of the freezer where it’s coldest.
• Store small amounts, two to four ounces at a time. That thaws more quickly and you’ll have fewer leftovers. Some women use ice cube trays to make handy little ingots of breast milk.
• To warm milk, leave it at room temperature or put it in a bowl of warm water. A microwave’s uneven heating creates hot spots that can burn a baby’s mouth. Never use a microwave for breast milk or other baby food.
• Once thawed and at room temperature, use it within an hour. Otherwise, store thawed milk in the refrigerator for another day (24 hours).
• Once it’s thawed, you can’t refreeze it. Use it or discard it. Oh my, this is liquid gold…so give it to your plants or a tree. That is some mighty compost.
A simple wash in hot soapy water and then a thorough rinse will do the trick. There’s no need to sterilize the bottles every time. Is your house sterile? Really, it’s okay. The dishwasher is okay for glass bottles. (Plastics in hot dishwashers and microwave ovens degrade and leech chemicals.)
Expressing milk for a baby at the hospital, while you’re at work or to have reserves is an excellent and very practical idea. I hope these guidelines help you simplify a routine so you can enjoy more of your day. Simplicity is key to happiness, indeed.FYI: These guidelines were culled from the Centers for Disease Control, Medela and Hollister (two companies that sell breast pumps) and reviewed with my IBCLC colleagues.