Storing breast milk

Store expressed breast milk in bottles or plastic milk-storage bags. Label each container with the date and time of each pumping. Breast milk may be used after it has been stored:

• For no more than 10 hours at room temperature

• In the refrigerator for up to eight days

• In the freezer compartment of the refrigerator for up to two weeks

• In a freezer compartment with a separate door for up to three to four months

• In a separate deep freezer for six months or longer

Thaw milk in the refrigerator or in a container of warm water. Don't thaw it at room temperature.

You can give breast milk straight from the refrigerator if your baby doesn't object. If your baby prefers warm milk, warm the bottle by setting it in a pan of warm water for a few minutes. Then shake the bottle and test it by putting a few drops on the top of your hand. Don't microwave breast milk because extreme heat can destroy some of the natural antibodies that breast milk carries and can cause hot spots that could burn your baby's mouth.

One other note: You may look at expressed breast milk and wonder, "How could this possibly be rich enough for my baby to grow on, when it looks so watery?" Breast milk is normally watery looking. It also has a blue cast, making it look somewhat like skim milk. But don't let looks deceive you. Breast milk is rich in exactly what your baby needs for growth.

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