How to store breastmilk and how long can it be stored?

How to store breastmilk and how long can it be stored?

Breastmilk should be stored in sterilised milk bottles or bags, which are labelled clearly with date. Avoid using permanent pen to write directly on the milk bag because the ink may penetrate into the milk bag.

Store the breastmilk in an amount that is good for one feed to avoid wastage since any leftover must be disposed.

You can also store the expressed breastmilk into bottles and bags with smaller volume. So that when your baby's demand changes, you can adjust accordingly without wasting your precious breastmilk.

The duration of milk storage varies at different temperatures:

  • Freshly expressed milk can be kept at room temperature (below 24 Co) for eight hours
  • If the milk is kept in a cooler bag with ice packs (below 15 Co), it can be stored for 24 hours
  • If the milk is kept in the chill compartment (2-4 Co) of the refrigerator, it can be stored up to 5 days. Do not store the breastmilk near the door of the refrigerator because the temperature there is unstable. If the breastmilk is not likely to be used within 48 hours, it is better to transfer it from the chill compartment to the freezer within 10 hours after expression
  • If the milk is placed in the freezer of a single door refrigerator, it can be kept for 2 weeks. If it is a two-door refrigerator the freezer temperature is below -18 Co, and the milk can be stored up to 3 months
  • If you place the milk in a deep freezer with temperature below -20 Co, it can be stored up to 6 months

If you want to store breastmilk for preterm or sick babies, please consult healthcare professionals for advice.

Remember do not put freshly expressed breastmilk directly into frozen milk. Freshly expressed breastmilk need to be chilled in the refrigerator for at least an hour before adding to the frozen milk. And the amount of frozen milk should be more than the chilled milk.