breast milk frozen

Storing Breast Milk

Store breastmilk in a sterilised bottle or container with a lid, or clean plastic milk freezer bag, and label with the amount and date. Don’t fill a container more than ¾ full before freezing (see also ‘Cleaning and sterilising’).

Frozen breastmilk

How long can breastmilk be stored?

Freshly expressed breastmilk keeps for up to 72 hours (3 days) in the back of the fridge – after that, discard if not used.

Frozen milk keeps 2 weeks in the freezer compartment of the fridge, 3 months in the freezer of a two-door fridge and 6–12 months in a deep freeze.

Use the oldest milk first.

Warming chilled breastmilk

To warm chilled expressed milk taken from the fridge, simply place the bottle in a bowl of warm water. If using a microwave to heat milk, shake the bottle after heating as microwaving heats milk unevenly (and may also change the composition of the milk). To avoid burning baby’s mouth, test the temperature of the milk to ensure it is only luke-warm by allowing some drops of the milk to drip onto the inside of your wrist. Discard any remaining milk after completion of feeding.

Do not microwave breast milk, as microwaving heats unevenly and the milk may burn baby’s mouth.

Freezing breastmilk

Think ahead and express a little surplus milk after each feed for storing. Chill the breastmilk after expressing. Once chilled, it can be added to your store of chilled milk in the fridge (do not add to frozen milk as it will defrost the top layer). Then at the end of 24 hours, you can freeze all the chilled milk you have collected. Don’t leave it any longer than two days (48 hours) before freezing if you’re not going to use it fresh.

Senior woman getting out of bed holding lower back in pain

Thawing frozen breastmilk

To thaw slowly, place the bag or bottle in the fridge. Keep in fridge up to 24 hours.

To thaw quickly, hold the bag or bottle under warm running water. Use within 4 hours..

Note: Do not refreeze milk once it has been thawed.

infant baby lying on mother

National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Infant feeding guidelines – Information for health workers, 2013., retrieved December 2014

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