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Thread: Expressed breastmilk

  1. #1
    New Member

    Join Date
    Jul 2013

    Expressed breastmilk

    Hi all! I am going back to work and have started expressing my breast milk. How long can I keep it at room temperature? In the refrigerator? In the freezer? And can I reuse leftover breast milk? I don't want my child to drink stale milk.

  2. #2
    Hi Nat,

    Thank you for your question.

    Here are the current guidelines on how long to store breastmilk for:

    -At room temperature for 4 hours (ideal) to 6 hours (acceptable), some sources state up to 8 hours is acceptable.
    -In the fridge for 3 days (ideal) to 8 days (acceptable).
    -In the freezer for 6 months (ideal) up to 12 months (acceptable).

    With regard to your interesting question about reusing leftover breastmilk; Ruth Lawrence (Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession) says:

    'Breast milk can safely stand at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours and need not be discarded if the first feeding attempt is incomplete. In contrast, formula must be refrigerated and discarded after the first feeding attempt because it contains no antibodies or infection protection factors.'

    There have not been any detailed studies on the safety of 'leftover' breastmilk. The bacteria in the baby's mouth mixes with the breastmilk once they have drunk from the bottle/cup containing the leftover breastmilk. However, expressed breastmilk has live cells that can kill bacteria. Therefore, as Lawrence states it should be safe to use again in the short-term. This particularly applies to freshly expressed breastmilk and it is even safer if you then put this leftover breastmilk in the fridge before the next feed.

    I hope this answers your questions? Please do post back and let us know how you are getting on.

    Best wishes,


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