Expressing and Storing Breast Milk
Women express and store breast milk for many reasons, including preparing for a night out, returning to work and illness. During the early days of feeding is when your body is producing excess quantities of milk and many women take the opportunity of expressing and storing at this time. Here are some tips.
Wash your hands before expressing.
Find a quiet place to sit and relax before starting.
Have a glass of water on hand.
Warmth is recommended to help with expressing, such as after a shower, or placing warm wash cloths on the breast.
Some women suggest having a picture of their baby to look at as it helps to allow the let-down reflex happen.
Ensure all your equipment is thoroughly cleaned and sterilised. It is recommended that equipment is thoroughly cleaned with hot water every 24 hours.
Storing Your Milk
Ensure you write a date on each container before storage.
Plastic storage bags are ideal for freezing. Speak to your local pharmacy, specialist baby shop or lactation consultant about products available.
Breastmilk freshly expressed into a closed container can be stored for
4 hours on the counter at room temperature
4 days in the fridge at 4 degrees C
6 months in an upright freezer at -18 degrees C is best, but up to 12 months is acceptable.
Mark on the container whether the milk has been expressed during the day or at night – breast milk changes at night and increases with melatonin to helps the baby to sleep more at night. Ideally feed night expressed milk to your baby at night and day time expressed during the day. If this isn’t possible – don’t stress. All expressed milk is good for your baby.
Go to https://wwwphilips.co.za for further information on the storage of breastmilk for home use.
Thawing and Re-heating Your Milk
It is recommended that you defrost your frozen breastmilk in the fridge. Previously frozen breastmilk should only be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
You can then reheat this by placing the bottle in a jug of hot water or in a bottle warmer.
NOTE: It is recommended that you DO NOT use a microwave for heating breastmilk as it affects the fats and proteins, and heats unevenly which may create heat spots within the milk.
For more information about baby’s needs see Baby Care