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Narrator: Kim, mom of 4-month-old Natalie, has learned how to pump her breast milk.
Now she wants to know how to safely store the milk and later feed it to her daughter.
Shari Criso – a nurse, midwife, and lactation consultant – will be showing Kim how it's done.
Lactation consultant Shari Criso: Breast milk is a very stable food, and it doesn't have to be refrigerated right away.
Narrator: Breast milk can be kept at room temperature for about three to four hours.
If you want to keep it for longer than that, you'll need to refrigerate or freeze it.
The first step is to get clean. Wash your hands, clean the bottles or containers you'll be storing the milk in, and sanitize the surface you'll be working on.
Lactation consultant: When you're putting milk into a refrigerator, you can either store it in the bottle, the one that you pumped from, the bottle you're going to feed from, or a bag can be used in the refrigerator.
Narrator: It's a good idea to buy storage bags or containers specifically made for breast milk. Ordinary household containers can affect the milk's composition and quality.
Lactation consultant: These containers all have a place where you can put the date. So that you make sure that you're keeping track of how old the milk is.
Narrator: Store your breast milk in 2 to 4 ounce portions, or as much as your baby normally eats in a sitting.
This way preparing each feeding will be more convenient and you'll be less likely to waste any milk.
If you're going to freeze the milk, leave some extra space in the container to allow for expansion.
The best place to store breast milk is toward the back of the refrigerator or freezer, where the temperature is the most constant.
Here's how long your breast milk will last, depending on where you store it:
Refrigerated breast milk should be used within three days or up to eight at the very longest.
In a regular freezer, it'll last for three to six months.
In a deep freezer, it'll be good for six to 12 months.
To keep your milk's quality high, use the shorter estimates. Milk stored longer than the ranges shown here is still safe, but some of its nutritional value will be lost.
Also, breast milk can go bad. Smell or taste it if you suspect spoilage.
Lactation consultant: Now I'll show you how to defrost it, so you can use it to feed your baby.
Narrator: Check the date and use the oldest milk first.
The safest way to warm cold or frozen breast milk is to place it in a cup of warm water for a few minutes.
Don't use the microwave, which can create hot spots in the milk and damage its nutrients.
You can also prepare frozen breast milk by letting it thaw in the fridge. It's fine to serve the milk cold if your baby likes it that way.
Lactation consultant: Go ahead and take the container out of the mug. Pour it right into your bottle. Great. Now you're all ready to feed your baby.
Narrator: When you're ready to serve the milk, you may see that the fat has separated into layers. To mix the fat back in, swirl the milk gently. Never vigorously shake breast milk, because the shaking alters the milk's protective proteins.
In some cases, stored breast milk can smell a little soapy – a side effect of the milk's fats breaking down. It's perfectly safe for babies to drink, though some won't like it.
After thawing frozen milk, you can keep it in the fridge for up to 24 hours, or out at room temperature for one hour.
Mom: Can I refreeze it again if the baby doesn't finish all of it?
Lactation consultant: Frozen milk cannot be refrozen.
Narrator: Some health professionals recommend discarding any unused milk left in your baby's bottle after a feeding.
Others will tell you it's okay to save a bottle of partially consumed breast milk as long as it's refrigerated and used within a few hours.
If you're somewhere without a fridge or you need to transport your breast milk, you can use a cooler.
Lactation consultant: Breast milk can be kept in a cooler like this with an ice pack for up to 24 hours. So for moms who have a concern about not having refrigeration at work, if you have your cooler with your ice pack, it'll be enough to store it all day and then bring it home for the baby at night.
Mom: All right, time to put the book down.
Narrator: Now Kim has peace of mind, and baby Natalie is enjoying the benefits of her mom's hard work and planning.