Breast Milk Storage & Transportation

After you have collected your breastmilk, it must be properly stored to preserve the nutrients and immunological properties. If your milk is not used within 4 hours, it must be refrigerated right after it is expessed. Your home refrigerator must be kept at 4 degrees Celsius, (39 degrees Fahrenheit) to maintain a safe temperature for the milk. It may remain in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. If not used within that time, it must be placed in the freezer.

If you are obtaining less than one ounce of milk per pumping session, you may add them together once they have cooled. Place only 50 cc's of milk in each volufeed, so that when it is frozen, there will be room for expansion in the bottle.

If the milk can be fed to your baby within 24 hours after expresing it, it should not be frozen. It is a good idea to communicate with your child's nurse before bringing your milk to the hospital. This could help prevent the unnecessary thawing of milk and possibly wasting it. It is better for your baby to have milk that has not been frozen because some of the infection-fighting properties are damaged in the freezing.

Storing Your Breastmilk

All your milk should be stored in volufeeds and sealed with sterile caps, both provided by the hospital. Fill each bottle to the 50 cc mark. Label each bottle with the pre-printed, bar-coded label provided by your nurse. On this label, write the date and time that the milk was expressed. If it contains milk from more than one pumping session, the time should reflect when the first portion was expressed. Milk should be fed to the infant in the order that it was pumped, except if using freshly expressed milk. Upon arrival at the hospital, give your labeled bottles of breast milk to your child's nurse for verificaiton with your child's ID band prior to every feeding. This is an imprtant safety measure we ask you to cooperate with. 

Freezing Your Breastmilk

When freezing breast milk, using a deep freezer is best. A temperature of -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) must be maintained. Milk may be stored for 12 months in a freezer with this temperature. If you are using the freezer attached to your refrigerator, you can store breast milk for 3 months. to prevent the constant changing of the air temperature around the milk, place it in an insulated or sealed bay and do not place the milk in the door.

Transporting Your Breastmilk to the NICU

When you bring your milk to the hospital, it should be transported on ice in a cooler or insulated bag. Enclose milk in plastic bags to prevent it from coming in contact with water or anything that could contaminate it. If milk thaws, it must be used within 24 hours. When your infant is discharged, there may be excess milk in the hospital freezer or refrigerator. It must be transported back home in the same manner. Thaw breastmilk in the refrigerator. This takes about 12 hours. You may also defrost milk under warm running water. Milk should never be microwaved or heated on the stove, as this can destroy the infection-fighting properties of breastmilk.

The information included on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute in any way for medical education, training, treatment, advice, or diagnosis by a healthcare professional. A qualified healthcare professional should always be consulted before making any healthcare-related decisions.