HomeHealth Topics A to ZBreast Milk Pumping and Storage
Health Topics

Breast Milk Pumping and Storage

By Dr. Cynthia Urbanowicz

Breastfeeding moms who need to be away from their baby for more than four hours can pump to provide milk for their baby, which will keep their milk supply from decreasing. For those who pump more frequently there are many different types of electric pumps. Whereas those who only need to pump a few times may find a hand pump useful for expressing milk. The right pump for you is the one that fits your style and needs, so you should compare breast pumps in the store before choosing one. You will also need nursing bags or plastic storage bottles with tight lids to store the milk and a cooler or insulated bag to transport the milk home.

You should pump for 10-15 minutes on each breast as many times as your baby would eat in the time that you are away. Before pumping always remember to wash your hands, and it is a good idea to try and relax and think about your baby. Also make sure that you are drinking enough water, eating healthy and getting a lot of rest. Put 2-4 oz of milk in each bag or storage bottle so as not to waste milk and always date the milk.

The pumped milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 96 hours but it is best to try and use it within the first 24 hours. Milk can be stored in a freezer attached to a refrigerator for 1-3 months or a separate deep freezer at zero degrees for up to 6 months. Always use the oldest dated milk first. To warm it up you can place it under warm running water or in a pot of warm water. Never microwave the milk because it breaks down essential vitamins and proteins in the milk and portions of the milk can get too hot. Do not refreeze any unused milk.

If you have further questions please contact your physician’s office.

For more information on breast milk pumping and storage you can visit the following sites:

1. www.healthychildren.org
2. www.laleche.org

Topics and Subtopics: Children's Health & Infant Care

Learn more about:
Obstetrics and Gynecology
Receive more health tips and DMG news right in your inbox!
Sign up for the Live Life Well newsletter