Augusta Healthcare for Women


Breast Pumping and Milk Storage

Breast Pumping

If you are unable to breastfeed your baby, it is important to remove your breastmilk during the times your baby normally would feed so that your body continues to make milk.

Before you express breast milk, be sure to wash your hands. Also, make sure the area where you are expressing is clean.

If you need help to get your milk to start flowing, try applying a warm moist compress to the breast, gently massaging the breasts, or sittting quietly and think of a relaxing setting.

You may also find it helpful to have a picture of your baby, a baby blanket, or an item of your baby’s clothing that has his or her scent on it.

Storage of Breast Milk

Breast milk can be stored in clean glass or hard BPA-free plastic bottles with tight fitting lids. You can also use milk storage bags, which are made for freezing human milk. Do not use disposable bottle liners or other plastic bags to store breast milk.

After each pumping

  • Label the date on the storage container. Include your child’s name if you are giving the milk to a childcare provider.
  • Gently swirl the container to mix the cream part of the breast milk that may rise to the top back into the rest of the milk. Shaking the milk is not recommended — this can cause a breakdown of some of the milk’s valuable components.
  • Refrigerate or chill milk right after it is expressed. You can put it in the refrigerator, place it in a cooler or insulated cooler pack, or freeze it in small (2 to 3 ounce) batches for later feedings.

Tips for freezing milk

  • Wait to tighten bottle caps or lids until the milk is completely frozen.
  • Try to leave an inch or so from the milk to the top of the container because it will expand when freezing.
  • Store milk in the back of the freezer — not in the freezer door.

Tips for thawing and warming up milk

  • Clearly label milk containers with the date it was expressed. Use the oldest stored milk first.
  • Breast milk does not necessarily need to be warmed. Some moms prefer to take the chill off and serve at room temperature. Some moms serve it cold.
  • Never put a bottle or bag of breast milk in the microwave. Microwaving creates hot spots that could burn your baby and damage the components of the milk.
  • Hold the bottle or frozen bag of milk under cool and then warm water for a few minutes until it thaws, then warm to a comfortable temperature.
  • You can allow frozen milk to thaw to room temperature on a counter or other clean surface. Or, heat a pan of water on the stove, remove it from the heat and place the container into the warm water.
  • Swirl the milk and test the temperature by dropping some on your wrist. It should be comfortably warm.
  • Do not re-freeze breast milk once it has been thawed, and use it within 24 hours.

Reference: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention