While researching few things about pregnancy, we came across a very frequently asked question, which was — how long does breast milk last in the fridge? After learning about it, in depth, we thought of writing down the answers through this post. Read on.
According to United States CDC (Centers for Disease Control), there are two important factors considered while storing the breast milk in freezer, which include:
To put it in simple terms, it all comes down to the way you store it. Here are few guidelines, to make a note, to keep your baby healthy:
Fresh expressed breast milk can last a maximum of six hours at room temperature. If you are not going to use the breast milk that fast or you feel that the room temperature is warm, consider transferring the milk into an insulated refrigerator, cooler or freezer.
Fresh expressed milk should be always stored at the back of your refrigerator, for up to 5 – 6 days.
Fresh expressed milk can also be stored in insulated cooler with ice-packs for 1 day. After this, either use it or transfer it into a container and then store in your freezer or refrigerator.
Fresh expressed milk can be stored inside a standard freezer for 3 – 6 months and inside a chest freezer for 6 – 12 months.
CDC says that frozen breast milk remains fresher for 2 weeks in a freezer that has only one door, than a refrigerator with multiple compartments. On the other hand, in a refrigerator with a separate door for a freezer, the frozen breast milk remains fresh for about 3 – 6 months. In a chest or deep freezer, the frozen breast milk lasts for 6 – 12 months. Generally, CDC advises to store the breast milk at the back of a freezer / refrigerator for preserving freshness, as long as possible. In order to keep the expressed milk fresh for a long time, make sure to wash your hands prior pumping. I hope, I have answered your question on how long does breast milk last in the fridge. However, this is not the end of the article. There are other things associated with the topic, which are important for me to write.
Storing breast milk can be confusing, at times. If you are breast-feeding your newborn and are a working-person too, you are probably considering to use a breast pump. However, it is vital to know, as to how to safely store the expressed breast milk. So, follow the practical tips listed below for storing your breast milk.
Before handling or expressing breast milk, make sure to wash your hands using soap. After this, store the expressed milk into a capped, clean glass / dry plastic container. Moreover, you can use plastic bags that are specially designed for milk storage. Remember, that storage bags are not usually recommended for long-term usage because they may leak, spill and turn contaminated, easily than containers. For extra shield, you can keep the bags inside a plastic storage container and make sure it is tightly sealed with a lid. In addition, few components of breast milk may adhere to plastic bags when stored for a long time, which can deprive your infant from essential nutrients. Do not store the breast milk inside disposable plastic bags or bottle liners that are designed for household use.
Use waterproof ink and labels to label every container with the exact date on which you have expressed your breast milk. If you are storing the milk at your baby’s childcare facility, don’t forget to add the baby’s name onto the label. If you are storing at your home, keep the containers at the back of your freezer or refrigerator, where the temperature is coolest. To lessen the waste, fill each container with the quantity of milk your baby needs for only 1 feeding. Begin with 2 – 4 ounces (about 59 – 118 ml), and then amend as required. Even better, you can consider storing your breast milk in smaller portions like 1 – 2 ounces (about 30 – 59 ml) — for unanticipated situations / delays in normal feedings. Note that breast milk expands once it freezes. Therefore, do not fill containers up to their brim.
To keep the breast milk fresh for your baby, it is important that you store it properly. To do this, here are few things to note:
Can You Add Fresh Expressed Milk Into A Container That Already Has Some?
Yes, you can add fresh expressed breast milk into the container that already has some. However, ensure to cool down the freshly expressed milk with ice packs, prior to adding into the earlier one. Do not add warm breast milk into the frozen breast milk, that has been already stored because it causes frozen milk to thaw. It is still best to store them separately.
Expressed milk is a perfect way to feed your little one when you are apart. However, some studies report that when you store breast milk for a long time, whether in a refrigerator or a freezer — there is a great loss of vitamin-C from the milk. On the other hand, few studies have proved that refrigeration for more than 2 days may decrease the bacteria-killing properties and at the same time, quality of fat present in breast milk is significantly lowered.
First, thaw the old milk. Place the frozen bottle into your refrigerator during nighttime prior you use it. You can even warm the expressed milk gently by placing it inside a bowl of lukewarm water. Make sure to gently swirl the breast milk before serving it to your baby. This evenly distributes its creamy portion that is layered at the top. Never do the mistake of shaking the container or bottle vigorously.
Do not thaw frozen milk at room temperature, as this enables bacteria to increase in the milk. Do not heat a frozen container or bottle inside a microwave or on the stove. Few studies say that rapidly heating the milk can affect its antibodies. So, it is best to use the thawed milk within twenty four hours. Dispose the remaining milk. Do not refreeze partially thawed or thawed milk.
Based on your daily diet, the color of your expressed breast milk may vary. On the other hand, thawed breast milk will have different consistency or odor than freshly expressed milk. However, it is still harmless to feed your baby with but if your infant refuses to drink thawed milk, don’t force him/her.
If you are someone, who goes to work, make it a routine to express and store your breast milk. This keeps the milk supply proper and your baby continues to get all the benefits from your milk. Also, it is important to know how soon you want to use the breast milk. If you are planning to use it within few days, there is no point in freezing it. Prefer refrigerating instead. Freezing destroys certain vital infection-fighting substances from the milk. Whether you prefer to freeze or refrigerate your milk, always remember the tips listed below:
Some babies happily drink cold milk, directly from the refrigerator, whereas others will only drink if it is warm. Don’t heat the milk directly. Place it in a bowl containing warm water. If you wish to freeze the milk, do it as soon as you can, after expressing. Leave some gap at the bottle’s or bag’s top because this helps your milk to expand while freezing. Also, see if there is any tear in plastic bag.
The most efficient and easiest way to feed a baby is certainly a mother’s breast milk. However, there may be circumstances when this might not be possible and a mother needs to express and store her milk. So, let me tell you when such a situation occurs:
Though the topic is about how long does breast milk last in the fridge, it is equally important for you to know when its taste and odor change.
Mother’s daily diet, exposing the milk to cold/light temperatures, smoking and medications are primary reasons why one observes changes in breast milk’s taste and odor. While some infants might not have a problem in drinking it, others might not like it.
Sometimes, when a mother’s breast milk is frozen, it develops an odor. This is due to an enzyme known as “Lipase”. When it is thawed, it smells unpleasant, soapy or rancid. Though it is safe, few babies might not prefer to drink it.
Prior to freezing larger portions of breast milk, a mother can test her milk for taste and odor. For this, collect one to two bags / small containers of fresh breast milk and freeze it for at least five days. Finally, evaluate its odor and see if the infant drinks it.
If you suspect that the milk has changed its taste and smell while test freeze, you can scald the fresh milk prior to freezing it. To do this, follow the steps given below:
Note: Scalding the milk lessens the vital components from breast milk. So, it is best to give fresh breast milk to your baby.
Hand expressing may not be that easy when a mother tries it, at first. Chances are that she may feel discouraged to fill only few drops or few mls, after all those efforts. However, gradually a mother can become familiar with the way her breasts feel and how to produce more milk flow.
Hope you have found this post useful. If you have anything to express, which you feel we have missed writing about, feel free to drop it in the comments section.
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January 15, 2015