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Bottle of breast milk

Breastfeeding milk

Expressing and Storing Breast Milk

Women express and store breast milk for many reasons, including preparing for a night out, returning to work and illness. During the early days of feeding is when your body is producing excess quantities of milk and many women take the opportunity of expressing and storing at this time. Here are some tips.

Expressing

  • Wash your hands before expressing.
  • Find a quiet place to sit and relax before starting.
  • Have a glass of water on hand.
  • Warmth is recommended to help with expressing, such as after a shower, or placing warm wash cloths on the breast.
  • Some women suggest having a picture of their baby to look at as it helps to allow the let down reflex happen.
  • Ensure all your equipment is appropriately cleaned and sterilised. It is recommended that equipment is thoroughly cleaned with hot water every 24 hours.

Storing Your Milk

  • Ensure you write a date on each container before storage.
  • Breastmilk should be stored in plastic or glass containers with an airtight sealed lid. Speak to your local pharmacy about products available.
  • Breastmilk freshly expressed into a closed container will last in the fridge for 72 hours. It should be stored in the back of the fridge where it is coldest.
  • The NZ Food Safety Authority recommends refrigerators are operated at 0-4 oC.
  • Breastmilk freshly expressed into a closed container will last in the freezer compartment inside a fridge for a maximum of 2 weeks but for approximately 3 months if stored in the freezer section of a fridge with a separate door. If you have a deep freeze (chest freezer) it may last 6-12 months.
  • The NZ Ministry of Health Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Infants and Toddlers (2008) have further information on the storage of breastmilk for home use.

Thawing and Re-heating Your Milk

  • It is recommended that you defrost your frozen breastmilk in the fridge. Previously frozen breastmilk should only be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
  • You can then reheat this by placing the bottle in a jug of hot water or in a bottle warmer.

NOTE: It is recommended that you DO NOT use a microwave for heating breastmilk as it affects the fats and proteins, and heats unevenly which may create heat spots within the milk.

For more information see Breastfeeding or Baby Care