Storing and warming breast milk

For some, breastfeeding goes so well that they can express large amounts in between to store and use later. It is important to handle breast milk hygienically when storing, thawing and warming it.

Storing breast milk

Where to store it

You can store breast milk in different containers! For example, it can be placed in clean plastic containers, ice cube bags, special breastfeeding bags or bottles. Ice cube bags are useful because you can freeze small quantities this way and use them again in small quantities. This makes it easier to adjust the amount to your baby’s needs and minimizes milk loss.

How and where to store?

Place a label on the container in which you pack the breast milk and put the date on it. This is important as breast milk does not last forever (like the rest of frozen products) in the freezer. For use between now and three days: Cool the expressed milk in the refrigerator, store the milk in the back of the refrigerator and not in the refrigerator door (the milk does not cool well enough here). The milk stays best cooled at the back of the refrigerator. The temperature of the refrigerator may be a maximum of 4 degrees and you can store the milk this way for three days. To store it for longer than three days: If you want to store it for longer than three days, you should freeze the milk immediately after pumping. The freezer temperature may be a maximum of -18 degrees (so it may also be lower than -18 degrees). You can store breast milk this way for up to six months.

Thaw breast milk

How to thaw?

It is best if you have time to thaw the milk in the refrigerator in advance. But if you need the milk faster, you can hold the milk under the tap, which you then turn from cold to warm. Make sure that thawing always takes place gradually, because this is the only way that breast milk retains the protective substances. Thawed breast milk should be used within 24 hours and should never be refrozen. So throw away all leftovers.

The appearance of breast milk

Thawed breast milk often looks slightly different from freshly expressed milk. And it doesn’t smell the same either. This is completely normal and has no consequences for the quality of the breast milk.

Warming breast milk

What to warm up with?

You can warm breast milk from the refrigerator in three ways: in a bottle warmer, in the microwave or in a bain marie (in a pan with warm water, place a bottle with milk in it). Swirl (slightly move back and forth in the bottle (kind of like stirring)) the milk in between, this ensures good distribution of the heat. If you use the microwave, heat the milk on a low setting for as short a time as possible. When using the microwave, always swirl the milk once or twice when heating the milk. Do this again when the milk is at the right temperature. The microwave itself is a difficult heat distributor.

How to heat and control?

If expressed milk is heated above 50 degrees, it loses a number of protective substances. So make sure that the milk does not get too warm/hot. Heat the milk to about 37 degrees, as this is a good drinking temperature. You also retain protective substances from breast milk. You can check the temperature of the milk by dropping a drop on the inside of your wrist. Then you can be sure that it is not too hot. How long you heat a bottle in the microwave depends on the power of the microwave and the amount of milk you want to heat. Heat a bottle containing 100 milliliters for about 30 seconds at a power of 600 watts.

Shelf life of breast milk

  • In the refrigerator: 72 hours
  • In the freezer compartment of the refrigerator: 2 to 3 weeks
  • In the freezer (-18 degrees Celsius): 6 months

Important tips : thaw gradually, do not heat above 50 degrees, do not refreeze or reheat and check with a drop on your own wrist.