Storage of Breastmilk

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August 09, 2021
2 min read

While expressed breast milk is always best used fresh it can be safely stored for use at a later time.


  • Commercial storage bags are popular but other hard plastic or glass containers can also be used.
  • Ensure they are sturdy, well-sealed and labelled with the date and time of expression.
  • Containers do not need to be sterilised if they have only had breastmilk in them.
  • Rinse containers in cool water, then give them a hot soapy wash, followed by a hot rinse and leave to air dry upright on a clean surface such as paper towel.


  • Never defrost frozen breastmilk in the microwave as it causes uneven heating and possible damage to the nutritional benefits of breastmilk.
  • Slowly defrost in the fridge overnight or in a container of warm water.
  • Defrosted milk cannot be refrozen and any remaining milk not consumed must be discarded 1-2 hours after the baby is finished feeding.


  • Use an insulated container with ice-bricks.
  • Once at your destination place the breastmilk in the freezer if still frozen or in the fridge if already defrosting.
  • Use within 24 hours once defrosted in the fridge.
  • Use within 4 hours or less once defrosted milk is at a room temp of 26 degrees or lower.

How long can I store breastmilk for:

Breastmilk Room Temperature Refrigerator Freezer
Freshly expressed into a closed container 6–8 hrs (26ºC or lower). If refrigeration is available store milk there No more than 72 hours. Store in back, where it is coldest 2 weeks in freezer compartment inside refrigerator (-15°C)

3 months in freezer section of refrigerator with separate door (–18°C)

6–12 months in deep freeze (–20°C**)

Previously frozen— thawed in refrigerator but not warmed 4 hours or less

(ie the next feeding)

Store in refrigerator

24 hours

Do not refreeze
Thawed outside refrigerator in warm water For completion of feeding Hold for 4 hours or until next feeding Do not refreeze
Infant has begun feeding Only for completion of feeding, then discard Discard Discard


Jillian Eadie

Jillian holds the gold standard qualification of International Board Certified Lactation Consultant ( IBCLC). She has over 10 year’s experience working closely with new mothers in the Maternity Unit setting as well as providing private consultations to new mothers in the comfort of their homes. She is also a Registered Nurse/Midwife. Jillian provides private lactation consults in your home or for those living outside Melbourne’s metropolitan area, Victoria or Australia via Zoom/Facetime meetings.

If you are experiencing any concerns and would like to discuss these further please don’t hesitate to contact me. Queries here.

Learn more about the Dr Golly Philosophy here.

Shop the Dr Golly age appropriate routines here.

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