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How to Safely Express and Store Breast Milk

The following apply:
• Before expressing or handling breast milk wash your hands well with soap and water.
• If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
• Note that you can express breast milk by hand or with a manual or electric pump.
• If you are using a pump, inspect the pump kit and tubing to make sure it is clean. If the tubes are mouldy discard and replace tubing immediately.
• If you are using a shared pump kit, clean pump dials, power switch, and countertop with a disinfectant wipe.

Storing expressed breast milk
• Use breast milk storage bags or clean food-grade containers with tight-fitting lids made of glass or plastic to store expressed breast milk.
• Avoid storing milk in bottles made of a BPA-containing plastic.
• Never store breast milk in disposable bottle liners or plastic bags that are not intended for storing breast milk.
Tips for storage
• Label the breast milk with the date you expressed it.
• Avoid storing breast milk in the door of the refrigerator or freezer to prevent breast milk from temperature changes as a result of the frequent opening and closing of the door.
• If you will not be using freshly expressed breast milk within 4 days, freeze it right away to protect the quality of the breast milk.
• Freeze breast milk in small amounts of 2 to 4 ounces (60 – 120ml) (or the amount that your baby will need at one feeding) to avoid wasting breast milk that your baby may not finish.
• When freezing breast milk, leave about a little space at the top of the container to make room for expansion as it freezes.
• If you will be supplying the breast milk to a childcare provider, clearly label the containers with the child’s name and inform the childcare provider about the storage requirement for the milk.
• Note that you can store breast milk in an insulated cooler bag with ice packs for up to 24 hours when you are travelling or leaving in a childcare home where there is no refrigeration facility.

How to safely thaw breast milk
Always thaw the oldest stored breast milk first (i.e. first in, first out), this is because the quality of breast milk can decrease over time.

Follow these tips for thawing your breast milk
• Keep the milk in the refrigerator overnight.
• Set in a container of warm or lukewarm water.
• Place the milk under lukewarm running water.
• Do not thaw or heat breast milk in a microwave as this can destroy nutrients in breast milk and create hot spots, which can burn your baby’s mouth.
• Use breast milk within 24 hours of thawing in the refrigerator.
• Once breast milk is brought to room temperature after storing in the refrigerator or freezer, use it within 2 hours.
• Never refreeze breast milk once you have thawed it.

Breast milk does not need to be warmed. It can be served room temperature however,
if you decide to warm the breast milk because it is too cold, follow these tips:

• Keep the container sealed.
• Place the container of breast milk into a separate container or pot of warm water for a few minutes Place the container of breast milk into a separate container and run tap water over the container for a few minutes.
• Do not heat breast milk directly on the stove or in the microwave.
• Test the temperature of the breast milk before feeding it to your baby by putting a few drops on your wrist. It should feel warm and not hot.
• Swirl the breast milk to mix the fat, which may have separated.
• If your baby did not finish breast milk in the bottle, the leftover milk can be used within 2 hours after the baby finished feeding. Discard leftover breast milk after 2 hours.