Storing and expressing breast milk
If you are returning to work or will be away from your baby during breastfeeds, expressing your milk means you can continue to give them all the benefits of breastmilk when you’re not around. It also allows your partner or other family members to give you a hand in feeding your baby.
Some mums try to express without getting much milk, and then worry that their milk supply is low but because the sensations of pumping and hand expressing are not the same as baby sucking, especially at first mums may find it difficult.
- Hand express
- Manual pump
- Electric pump/ Double pump
It is best to leave expressing until milk supply is established as giving bottles in the early days can lead to nipple confusion in the baby (4-6 weeks).
How often to express breast milk
- Wait until milk supply is established
- If unable to breastfeed a newborn baby because baby is premature or sick, then express 8-10 times daily starting at 10-15 minutes and increasing when the milk comes
- If feeding is established on the breast and mum wants to express, then its best to express in the mornings after the first feed as the breasts are usually fuller- evenings tend to yield less milk
Storing breast milk
- Store breast milk in no more than 2-4oz volumes to reduce wastage.
- Wash hands to prevent any bacterial contamination
- Expressed milk stored in a closed container at room temperature is safe up to 8 hours
- Expressed milk can be stored in a fridge (back of the fridge not the door) for 3-5 days
- In a freezer for up to 3 months and a chest freezer for 6 months (check your own specific freezer guidelines)
- Always label with date and time to use in sequence. Once defrosted in a fridge you have up to 24 hours to use it
- Once defrosted use or throw away – breast milk cannot be refrigerated again, hence the importance of freezing in smaller amounts
- If you would like some more tips or advice on expressing and storing breast milk, please contact our Careline.
Brighter futures start here
Discover more about infant development to help shape your baby's future
Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides many benefits. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a varied, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breastmilk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. The social and financial implications of using an infant formula should be considered. Improper use of an infant formula or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use an infant formula, you should follow manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill. Always consult your doctor, midwife or health visitor for advice about feeding your baby.