breastmilk storage

Breastmilk Pumping & Storage Tips

Pumping and storing breastmilk can seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be! In the typical, no-nonsense Moms on Call fashion, we're telling you everything you need to know -- from the items you need, storage guidelines and cleaning.

What do you need?

Just the basics! There may be favorites you find along the way in your pumping journey, but here is what we recommend starting with!

  • A breast pump. There are 3 types:
    • Manual: This is a great, lightweight and portable option have in your diaper bag. We also love to use this during breastfeeding, on the breast that the baby is not feeding on, to catch any milk that lets down. This helps prevent any precious milk from being wasted!
    • Electric: These pumps collect milk using flanges, cups and tubing. Some of our favorites are the Spectra and Baby Buddha. They both have rechargeable batteries which allow you to be mobile and hands-free while pumping, without sacrificing any suction strength.
    • Wearable: Wearable breast pumps are the newest kind of pump on the market. Two options are the Willow and Elvie. These pumps can be worn inside your bra and do not have any tubing. A great option for mobility, but you will likely need an electric pump as well as the wearable pumps have limited capacity and suction strength.
  • Hands-free pumping bra
    • You will use this with your electric pump.
  • Snack station
    • This is a MUST!
    • Try and keep water and snacks at an arm's reach. Once you start pumping, be sure to nourish your body!
  • Breastmilk-specific storage bags
    • This allows you to freeze breastmilk in flat and thin packages ("breastmilk bricks") which makes for easy and efficient storage and thawing.
  • Sharpie to label bags
    • You will want to label the bags with the date, amount and any notes.
  • Narrow bin for fridge/freezer storage
  • Cooler and ice packs for pumping on-the-go
    • If you're pumping at work this is a must!
    • Pro tip: Bring extra ice packs if you have a work freezer. This way you can refresh your ice packs before heading home!

Pumping Tips

  • Ensure that your flanges fit properly
    • Measure your nipple (not areola) and add 4mm to get your flange size.
    • Quick tip: Use coins to measure your nipple size:
      • Quarter = 28mm flange
      • Nickel = 24mm flange
      • Dime = 21mm flange
  • Relax
    • Read, listen to soft music, listen to baby sounds or look at pictures of your baby.
      • Those baby cries and coos are pretty powerful! Ever been out in public and have your little one start crying? This can initiate an immediate “let down”.
  • Massage breast gently while pumping
    • You can also use warm compresses (not hot!)
    • Make your own or check out the many breast warmer options online!
  • Know your pump and settings
    • Some pumps have stimulation and expression modes
    • To get the most out of your pumping, you'll want to be sure you're using your pump's different modes properly.

Breastmilk Storage Tips

Where and for how long (See CDC website for more details)

Now That You’ve Pumped, What’s Next?

  • Use freshly pumped milk within 3-4 hours.
  • Straight from you to the fridge!
  • From Fridge to Freezer
    • Once all pumped milk in fridge is the same temp, you can mix together and then pour into your breastmilk freezer bags and freeze in 4 oz batches.
    • It is best to do this every 1-2 days.
    • Label the bag with date. Then freeze.
  • If you are putting your fresh milk in a cooler with ice packs, try to get to the fridge as soon as you can.


Use OLDEST milk first

  • If you need breastmilk right away:
    • Place frozen milk in a bowl of room temperature water. Thawing will take 5-10 minutes. Once thaw, use within 2 hours.
  • If you need breastmilk the next day:
    • Place frozen breastmilk in the fridge. May take 12-24 hours to completely thaw.
    • Once thawed, use within 24 hours
  • Never thaw or heat frozen breastmilk in microwave/stove

Quick Tips for Cleaning

  • Store breast pump parts in the fridge during the day, in between pumping sessions. Keeping them in the fridge prevents bacteria from growing and makes it so you don't have to wash your parts multiple times each day.
  • At the end of each day, wash and rinse parts well.
  • Dry items completely before storing in a closed container.
  • If immunocompromised, premature, yeast or other infections are present, you may need to sterilize daily.

If you’re looking for more information on the different feeding approaches for your baby including breastfeeding, formula feeding, and introducing solids, visit our Knowledge Center. Also, be sure to check out our Podcast episode, When Breastmilk Supply Dwindles, for even more breastfeeding information.

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