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How to store breastmilk

3 essential tips to pumping and storing breastmilk for your baby

May 17, 2017

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Pumping breastmilk for your baby can be a great way to continue to breastfeed when you’re on the go. And at times, it can simply be more convenient. This is especially the case if you are going back to work, or if your baby is going to daycare.

Jill Lindquist, RN, PHN, IBCLC, is a lactation consultant at Park Nicollet’s Breastfeeding Center and helps moms with all aspects of breastfeeding. That includes the questions that come along with pumping and bottle feeding.

Here she answers are a few common questions she gets from new moms on storing breastmilk:

1. Where should I store breastmilk?

Breastmilk should be stored in clean containers made of hard plastic or glass. You can also use a plastic liner designed for breastmilk, but don’t try to make a Ziploc baggie work—it may leak!

If you’re packaging up breastmilk for storage in the fridge or freezer, put it near the back of the fridge or freezer where it will stay colder.

2. How much breastmilk should I store?

How much breastmilk you store is up to you, but I recommend storing smaller amounts to help make sure it doesn’t go to waste. Storing breastmilk in 2-3 ounce batches can make the whole process easier. It’ll take less time to thaw, and you won’t have to worry about baby not eating it all and having to toss the rest.

3. How long can I store breastmilk?

There’s a rule of thumb I use to help moms with this one: just remember 5-7.

When you’re ready to use the breastmilk, you’ll want to bring it back up to body temperature, which is what baby is used to. To thaw breastmilk, put it in a bowl of warm water. Don’t use a microwave to thaw breastmilk.

If you have a batch of breastmilk that you’re unsure about, board-certified lactation consultants are here to help you. Many clinics or health plans have lactation consultants on hand to answer questions for moms, and you can reach them by calling in to a resource center. Your doctor or a nurse’s line should be able to point you in the right direction.

More about Jill Lindquist, RN, PHN, IBCLC

Jill is a board-certified lactation consultant. She has helped moms and babies with breastfeeding support for more than 20 years in hospitals, clinics, homes and over the phone. She has been with Park Nicollet’s Breastfeeding Center for the past 4 years. Jill is also the Vice President of Breastmilk for Babies, a non-profit organization working to establish a milk bank in Minnesota so that more babies can receive the many natural benefits of breastmilk. She is the mother of three grown children, each of whom started their growing on breastmilk.

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