Breastfeeding and Returning to Work
So you've got the breast milk expressed -- now what? If your workplace doesn't have a refrigerator you can use, it's a good idea to bring a cooler with some ice packs to store your breast milk as soon as possible after it is pumped. Using plastic containers or nursing bags that are sterile and designed to store breast milk are great for storing breast milk in small amounts (two to four ounces, which is usually as much as an infant will consume in one feeding).
You can also freeze your breast milk if you aren't going to use it right away, and thaw it out at a later time. If you do decide to freeze it, make sure you write down the date that you expressed the milk on your container, as breast milk can only be frozen for a certain amount of time (see How to Store Breast Milk).
Some general guidelines for storing fresh breast milk include the following:
- At room temperature (66-72°F, 19-22°C) for up to 10 hours
- In a refrigerator (32-39°F, 0-4°C) for up to eight days
- In a freezer compartment inside a refrigerator (variable temperature due to the door opening frequently) for up to two weeks
- In a freezer compartment with a separate door (variable temperature due to the door opening frequently) for up to three to four months
- In a separate deep freezer (0°F, -19°C) for up to six months or longer.
(Click How to Reheat Breast Milk for information on the best ways to reheat breast milk that has been refrigerated or frozen.)