Use a pump or your hands to express breast milk. You can learn how from a public health nurse, a WIC breastfeeding counselor or lactation specialist. Ask your doctor or WIC for the name of someone who can help. As you learn, be patient with yourself. Practice. Before long, you'll be an expert.
Express breast milk into a clean container. Refrigerate or freeze it right away. Breast milk will keep up to 48 hours in the refrigerator. It will keep longer if it is frozen. You will waste less milk if you store it in small, small, two- to four-ounce containers. Write the date the milk was expressed on the containers. If you are taking the milk to a caregiver, write your baby's name on the container, too.
How long can I freeze breast milk?
You can store breast milk in the freezer that has a separate door from the refrigerator for up to three months.
Make sure your baby's caregiver follows these safety rules:
- Defrost frozen breast milk in the refrigerator for several hours. Or thaw it by running the container under cool water. Don't thaw it by leaving it out at room temperature.
- You can refrigerate thawed breast milk for up to 24 hours. It cannot be refrozen.
- Never use a microwave oven to defrost breast milk.
- Throw away any defrosted and warmed breast milk that the baby doesn't drink. Don't keep it at room temperature. Don't refrigerate it for later use.
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