How Long Does Breast Milk Last In The Fridge?

Collecting and storing breast milk for usage at a later period is necessary for many mothers. Mothers who are in a situation that require their separation from their babies, and those mothers who get back to work after their delivery are addressed in this category. This article offers answers to many of your queries regarding collecting and storing breast milk. Find answers to your queries on How to collect breast milk?, How long does breast milk last in the fridge?, What causes odor and taste changes in breast milk? here.

Also Read: How Much Milk Should You Drink In A Day?

how long can breast milk stay in fridge

Collecting Breast Milk

  • Ensure that your hands are clean. Wash them well with water after applying soap.
  • Using hot water and dishwasher wash the collecting bottles and those parts of the breast pump that come in contact with your breasts or your breast milk. Rinse thoroughly, and let them air dry on a clean towel.
  • Sterilize your pump parts and collecting bottles. Be sure that you buy only a pump with breast shield that comfortably fits your nipple.
  • Ensure that you pump your breasts only when you are rested and relaxed. You can breastfeed your baby on one side and pump the other side when you feel that it is full. How long does breast milk last? Without refrigeration, at room temperature of 25 degree Celsius and below, breast milk can stay good for six hours.
  • Pumping out breast milk can also be done when your baby skips a breastfeeding session or when she feeds only for a short while.
  • You should introduce bottle-feeding even when your breastfeeding is continued so that your baby gets adapted to it.

How Long Does Breast Milk Last In The Freezer?

For about two weeks, your breast milk can stay good in the freezer. So, start storing breast milk one or two weeks before you get back to work. This stored milk can be frozen and used for emergencies. Pumped fresh milk stored the previous day can be used for the regular feeding of your baby. So, How long does breast milk last in the fridge? In refrigerated conditions, it can stay for five days in good condition. To warm breast milk, heat water in a container or cup, and place the frozen breast milk along with its container inside the warm water. You can also use a bottle warmer for this purpose. Nevertheless, never microwave breast milk. You can collect your breast milk every three hours when you are at work. Pumping for 10 to 15 minutes with a good breast pump will ensure continued milk supply in you. When you are with your baby, breastfeed her. You should breastfeed her every evening, nighttime, and on days off. This will keep your milk supplies up while helping you bond to with her.

Storing Breast Milk

  • Pumped milk may differ in consistency, color and odor depending on your diet intake. It is also normal for stored breast milk to separate into layers. The cream in the milk will be in the top layer and the milk in the next. Gentle swirling of the liquid will mix them up.
  • You can add more cooled fresh milk to the refrigerated milk if it has been extracted on the same day.
  • Store breast milk in bottles and bags, which are designed specifically for this purpose.
  • When you freeze milk, the [portion sizes should be 2 to 5 ounces each. This is because it is easier to thaw small amounts of milk quickly. Besides, milk wastage can be minimized this way.
  • You can keep previously frozen milk in the refrigerator, but not in the freezer again.
  • If your baby does not consume the entire bottle of milk given to her in one single session, you can safely put in back in the refrigerator and use it 1 or 2 hrs later.
  • Also, remember that breast milk tends to expand while freezing. So, leave a small area of the container vacant while you fill in for freezing.
  • Seal the breast milk containers tightly, and label these with the date on which these were extracted. Make sure that you use the oldest breast milk first.

Odor and Taste Changes in Breast Milk

  • Changes in the taste and odor of breast milk can be caused due to drug intake, smoking, mother’s diet, and exposure to the milk to cold temperatures or light during storage. Mostly, babies do not mind these changes in breast milk.
  • Some breastfeeding mothers secrete milk, which develops an undesirable smell, and taste when frozen. This is due to a normal enzyme called lipase present in the breast milk. Upon thawing, this breast milk often smells unpleasant, soapy or rancid. However, it is completely safe for feeding your baby with, and most infants drink it without any fuss. However, some babies may refuse it either while tasting it for the first time or later on when they have developed taste preferences.
  • Before attempting to freeze large quantities of breast milk, you can test your milk for freezing. Collect two containers with 2 to 5 ounces of breast milk and freeze them for a minimum period of 5 days. Evaluate the frozen milk to see if your baby drinks it or not.
  • If your baby doesn’t like milk with the lipase induced changes during the test freezing, you can eliminate lipase activity by scalding fresh breast milk before freezing it. Scalding after freezing will not rectify the taste or odor problem in breast milk.
  • In order to scald fresh breast milk, heat it in a pot to about 180 degrees Fahrenheit, you will see tiny bubbles emerging from around the sides of the pot, now remove it from the heat and chill it quickly before freezing. However, scalding the breast milk decreases some good substances in it. So, feed your baby with fresh breast milk whenever possible.
Note: Mothers whose babies are in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) will be asked to collect and store breast milk for a longer time. Lipolysis of breast milk does not occur in NICU freezers as these freezers maintain super cold temperatures in the range of -70 to -80 degree Celsius. So, if your frozen milk in NICU freezers seems to have been affected by lipolysis, consult with the lactation consultant out there.