world breastfeeding week

Tips for expressing and storing milk

To support World Breastfeeding Week, Sidra’s expert staff have produced a series of blogs on different aspects of breastfeeding. This blog focuses on tips on how to express and store your milk.

How to express your milk using a breast pump:

  • Wash your hands whenever you are expressing or handling your expressed breast milk.
  • Sit comfortably
  • Stimulate the let-down reflex by hand – this can be done with some gentle breast massage, thinking about your baby, bringing a photo or watching a video of your child to help release the flow of the milk.
  • Once the milk starts to flow, switch to the pump.
  • Place the funnel of the pump directly over your nipple and hold it gently but with enough firmness to ensure a perfect seal against your breast.
  • Keep the funnel close enough to maintain the seal with your skin for the entire time you are expressing/pumping your milk.
  • Pump until the milk flow slows down and continue for about one minute more and then switch to the second breast. When the flow slows on the second breast, go back to the first. Finally, finish on the second when the flow slows for the second time.
  • If you are pumping both breasts at the same time (double pumping), turn the pump off for 30 seconds or so when the flow slows. Then turn it back on and carry on until it slows again.

Tips for storing breast milk

  • You should store your expressed breast milk at the back of the fridge to ensure that it remains as cool as possible and the temperature remains more stable.
  • Always transport it in a cool bag with frozen ice packs when travelling, whenever possible.
  • If you don’t have access to a fridge, ask your employer if there is one.
  • Store breast milk using the following guidelines:
  • At room temperature: 3-4 hours
  • Cooler with a freezer pack: 24 hours
  • Fresh milk in refrigerator: 3-5 days
  • Thawed milk in refrigerator: 1 day
  • Freezer that is inside a refrigerator: 2 weeks
  • Refrigerator freezer (separate door): 3-6 months

Deep freezer: 6-12 months

  • Try out different containers so you know they won’t leak when defrosting or travelling.
  • Label and date expressed breast milk before putting it in the fridge or freezer. Have some milk in the freezer as a back-up to help you through the first few weeks.
  • Be prepared by keeping an extra top and some breast pads at college or work.
  • Defrost frozen breast milk overnight in the fridge to take to the childcare provider.
  • If you’re using milk within five days of expressing it, it’s better to store it in the fridge rather than in the freezer.