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Six ways to safely store expressed milk

Last updated 2 months ago | By Esther Muchene

There will be times that, as a mum, you need to store breastmilk for future use (Photo: Shutterstock)

Once in a while you’ll have those situations where you have to save some expressed milk for later. Whether it’s saving for a few hours, a week or a month, you have to express and store in the safest way possible.

The goal here is to prevent the milk from spoiling and contamination by bacteria. Poor storage could lead to serious health problems.

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To prevent initial contamination, wash your hands properly with soap and water. Clean your breast pump as well. Ensure that your nipples are clean which is also part of both personal and breastfeeding hygiene.

  1. Use the right container for storage

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The container you choose while storing affects the quality of the milk. Some can even leak harmful chemicals into your baby’s milk. Containers that are harmful are the BPA (Bisphenol -A) plastics which can contaminate the milk. The risks are still high even when you place the container in the freezer. Your baby might develop neurological disorders as a result of consuming those toxic chemicals. You should use glass and stainless steel but the best storage to use are the ones that have been specifically designed for breastmilk.

  1. Store them for the right duration of time

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If you’re just storing them at room temperature, keep the milk for a maximum duration of four hours. It’s more flexible when you have a fridge because you can store it there. While it’s in the fridge, place it at the back to prevent the milk from spoiling too early. A freezer will keep the milk fresh for six to nine months. If you’re storing in the fridge or freezer, make sure you place the bottles far from raw produce like meats. 

This will prevent any contact with dangerous microorganisms like salmonella. This is particularly risky for infants because their immune system isn’t strong yet.

  1. Avoid storing in large containers

It’s better to store the milk in smaller containers because the risk of contamination is lower. Also, large containers waste more milk. There’s more hassle with the larger ones because the smaller containers allow you to store some in the freezer, some in the fridge and others at room temperature at the same time.

Store milk in smaller quantities to avoid defrosting and freezing again (Photo: Shutterstock)
  1. Label them

Label the containers according to dates. That’ll let you know which ones should be consumed first and which ones can be saved for last. This also prevents your visitors from making that blunder of drinking the milk which can easily be mistaken for the usual dairy one. An extra tip is to use water proof labels because the condensed water droplets in the fridge can rub off the labels.

  1. Use a cooler while travelling 

Coolers prevent the milk from expiring easily while travelling. If you don’t have one, it’s better to feed the baby immediately. Coolers will keep the milk fresh for only 24 hours. You should place it in the fridge or freezer immediately after arriving at your destination.

  1. Don’t refreeze after thawing

Expressed milk that has been previously stored in the freezer and thawed should never be placed back in the freezer. Refreezing it will contaminate the milk with bacteria which is a health hazard. Refreezing also degrades the quality of the milk so some of the nutrients will be lost in between. Thawed milk isn’t safe for consumption after 24 hours.

Use these guidelines for the safest way to store milk. Storing comes in handy whether you’re travelling, going to work or leaving your baby with a nanny for some time. The small details of how you handle the milk will go a long way in preventing wastage and avoidable illnesses from poor storage.