It is not always possible to be with your baby for every feeding. Your baby may need a supplemental feeding on some occasions. The best supplement is your own milk that you have expressed and stored. Here are some convenient tips on breast milk storage.
Wash your hands with warm, soapy water before touching your breast, any of the breast pump parts, or your expressed milk.
Transfer your expressed milk into a clean container for storage.
Label the container with the date, time and amount collected. Use the oldest milk first.
If you store milk in plastic bottle bags, double the bags. They may split, especially when being thawed after freezing. If more than half of the baby's milk is to be supplemented, hard-sided bottles are recommended.
Put the container into the refrigerator.
Wash all pump parts that came into contact with your breast milk in hot soapy water after each use; rinse well in hot water. Follow the manufacturer's suggestions about putting pump parts into the dishwasher. Milk-storage containers should be washed the same way if they are to be reused.
Freshly expressed milk contains antibacterial factors that enable it to be kept at room temperatue for a few hours. But to be safe, refrigerate your milk as soon as possible.
If you intend to freeze your breast milk, do so within 24 hours after it is expressed. Before freezing, it is a good idea to chill the milk in the refrigerator. Leave a little room in the top of the container to allow for the expansion that occurs during freezing.
You may wish to freeze your milk in small (2 to 4 fl oz) portions that will thaw fairly quickly.
Use breast milk stored in a self-defrosting refrigerator freezer within 3 to 4 months.
Use milk stored in a deep freezer within 6 months (0 degrees Fahrenheit or less.)
Storing Your Breast Milk
Guidelines for healthy full-term infants
Freshly Expressed Breast Milk
3-4 months in freezer compartment of refrigerator; 6 months in deep freezer (0 degreez Fahrenheit or below)
Previously Frozen Breast Milk
Thawing Frozen Breast Milk
Thaw frozen breast milk gradually, in its container, under increasingly warm running water. Or set it in another container full of warm water and slowly add warmer water until the milk is thawed. You can swirl the container to encourge faster thawing
After the thawing is complete, gently swirl the container to mix the milk before feeding it to the baby, because the milk usually separates while standing.
Defrost breast milk by using boiling or very hot water.
Defrost breast milk in a microwave oven. Uneven heating may cause "hot spots" that could burn your baby. Also, microwaving may alter proteins and destroy some protective components of the milk.
Discard any milk left at the end of the feeding.
If an infant formula is needed, consult your baby's doctor or nurse to help select the right supplemental formula for your baby.