Safe storage of breast milk

From time to time you may need to express your breastmilk and store it for your baby to be fed later, or you may have an abundant supply and wish to stockpile some milk for later.

You can express milk by hand or with a breast pump. Different pumps suit different women, so ask for advice or hire one first before you buy. Always make sure that the container or pump is clean and has been sterilised before you use it.

Breast milk can be stored in a sterilised glass or plastic containers, including sealable plastic bags. Always use a new container rather than add to previously refrigerated or frozen milk. A Guideline sheet on how to store breastmilk is here:

Please note : Breast milk must always be stored in a sterilised container. If you use a pump, always clean and sterilise it before and after each session.

Any expressed milk not used within 2 days should be frozen. Remember to put the date and time the milk was expressed and use the oldest milk first.

Defrosting frozen breast milk

If you have frozen your milk, defrost it in the fridge before giving it to your baby. Once it’s defrosted, use it straight away. Milk that’s been frozen is still good for your baby. Don’t re-freeze milk once it’s thawed it has to be discarded.

How to reheat your breast milk

You can feed expressed milk straight from the fridge if your baby is happy to drink it cold. Or you can warm the milk to body temperature by placing the bottle in lukewarm water.

Don’t use a microwave to heat up or defrost breast milk as it can cause hot spots, which can burn your baby’s mouth.

If your baby is in hospital

If you’re expressing and storing breast milk because your baby is premature or ill, ask the hospital staff caring for your baby for advice on how to store it.