How Long Can Breast Milk Stay Out? Helpful Guidelines And Tips

how long can breast milk stay out

Mother’s milk is the best food for babies. It contains many nutrients that help your baby grow and develop.

However, most mothers don’t realize how long breast milk can be stored! The amount of time it takes for mothers to produce enough milk depends on several factors, including their breastfeeding status and method of delivery.

For some women, making more milk is difficult. For example, if they have diabetes, there may be something physiologically wrong with them that makes producing milk harder.

If you know you are going to need additional assistance in feeding your child, you should try to identify what causes your body not to make enough milk.

There are various things you can do to improve your production of milk, such as eating more nutritious foods, increasing your activity level, and taking mineral supplements.

You also can shorten the time between feedings. Keep in mind that this will reduce the total number of times you feed your baby, so he or she will eat less per meal.

How long can breast milk stay out?

Mother’s milk is crucial for infant development, especially in the first six months of life. Unfortunately, only about 10% of women can produce enough milk for their children, which is why most hospitals recommend that mothers give breast milk as an alternative to formula.

However, it’s important to note that mother’s milk isn’t always available at the hospital. And when you can’t provide your milk, hospitals may be able to supply milk to infants who need it.

How long can breast milk stay out after warming?

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Breast milk can therefore be stored at room temperature, in the refrigerator, or in the freezer depending on how long you want to keep it.

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Whichever storage method you choose, take care to wash your hands thoroughly and wash your breast pump well. Don’t forget to also wash the container in which you will store your breast milk.

For short-term storage

You can keep your breast milk at room temperature, provided of course that you offer it to your child within the following hours:

4-6 hours if stored at room temperature (19-22°C);

24 hours if stored at 15 degrees.

However, ANSES specifies that any bottle started but not finished within one hour of the start of its consumption must be thrown away. Indeed, once the bottle has been put in the mouth, there is a transfer of bacteria that contaminate the milk, and putting the bottle in the refrigerator does not prevent the development of bacteria.

For medium to long-term storage

If you need to keep your breast milk longer, it is essential to limit bacterial proliferation, by opting for either the refrigerator or the freezer.

In this case, you can keep your milk longer:

4 days in the refrigerator (between 0 and 4°C);

2 weeks in the freezer of a refrigerator: this is the compartment intended for storing frozen foods, at the top of a refrigerator;

3 to 4 months in a combined fridge-freezer;

4 months in a freezer separate from the refrigerator (-18°C).

However, due to the risks of bacteriological development, the times mentioned cannot be combined. It is strongly advised not to keep your milk at room temperature for 4 hours and then freeze it for 4 months.

Furthermore, these maximum storage times are valid for domestic use. Hospitals have much stricter requirements, which are specific to them to limit any risk of contamination.

A new study found that breast milk contains higher levels of triglycerides (an important type of fat) before being warmed or cooled. The researchers said they were not expecting to find much difference in the levels of fats between the two temperatures, but their results showed that there was almost no change in the concentration of triglyceride when heated.

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This could mean that feeding an infant who is unable to eat any other food (for example, preterm infants) might be easier with warmer breast milk.

The authors write, “It seems plausible that exposure to heat during delivery may contribute to this increased level of lipids [fats] in human milk.” They also note that although heating has many benefits, it can decrease some nutrients in breast milk such as vitamin D.

Check out also this article about Changing ‘Breast Milk’ With ‘Chest Milk’ Could Make Breastfeeding More Inclusive Of All Kinds Of Families

How long can breast milk stay out after the baby drinks?

Breast milk is at its best when it’s fresh and drunk directly from the breast, but it refrigerates and freezes well. If your baby is fed only expressed breast milk, it is best to give it freshly expressed or chilled. Prolonged freezing slightly decreases the nutritional value of breast milk. However, its qualities remain superior to those of any other milk.

Breastmilk can be stored in glass containers, hard plastic containers, and even thick bottle bags designed specifically for breastmilk. Bottle bags designed for commercial preparations are too thin and less suitable for freezing; they must be doubled because they are fragile.

You can keep freshly expressed or refrigerated breast milk at room temperature for 4 hours. In cases where it is to be drunk later, store it in the refrigerator. If you plan to use it after 8 days, freeze it as soon as possible. You can put it directly in the freezer after expressing it. Here are some helpful tips:

Keep varying quantities (from 30 to 90 ml) to avoid waste.

Do not fill the container more than 2/3 full, as the liquid takes up more space when frozen.

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If you want to accumulate a large quantity of milk in the same container before freezing it, place it in the refrigerator until you have the desired quantity.

Write the date on the tightly closed container.

Store it at the bottom of the freezer and not near the door, to avoid temperature changes.

You can collect all containers of frozen breast milk in a second container that seals well.

Use the oldest milk first.

If the milk (fresh, chilled, or thawed) has been heated, but your baby has changed its mind, you don’t have to throw it away if it hasn’t come in contact with the bacteria in the baby’s mouth. It can be stored in the refrigerator for 4 more hours. Use it at the next drink, otherwise, it will have to be thrown away.

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Can babies drink cold breast milk? YES

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When you are breastfeeding, you cannot control the temperature that comes directly from your breast, but it is usually neither too hot nor too cold for your child. However, if you are pumping, you should store your milk in the fridge or freezer because it can spoil if left at room temperature. Breast milk can be kept for several days in the refrigerator or several months in the freezer.

If you need to store your breast milk in the fridge, you can take it out of the fridge and give it to your baby. If your baby isn’t used to cold temperatures, it may bother him at first and he may be hesitant to take the bottle until he reaches the desired temperature.

Other babies may not even notice the change in temperature and continue to drink. Either way, cold breast milk is perfectly fine for your baby to drink.

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