How to Express and Store Breastmilk
Updated July 9th, 2018
Feeding your baby early and often at the breast is helpful to establish your milk supply and breastfeeding relationship with your baby. Expressing your milk stimulates your body to make more milk. There may be times when you want to give your baby expressed breastmilk.
Ways to Express your Breastmilk
Expressing by hand
- Check out this Hand Expression video from Healthy Families BC
- Hand expression (see page 6 of the Healthy Child Manitoba Resource)
Note: Other videos may be recommended by the host channel (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo). These suggestions may be based on your personal search history and other factors. The WRHA does not control these suggestions and is not responsible for and may not endorse the content.
Expressing by breast pump
- you can rent or buy different types of breast pumps. Ask your midwife, Public Health Nurse, lactation consultant or pharmacy for more information.
- When you are choosing your breast pump, try and find one that meets your needs and you feel comfortable using.
Hot parent tip:
- If you have health care benefits, you may have coverage for a breast pump. It may be listed under special medical devices and you might need a doctor’s prescription.
- You can rent or buy a breast pump. Click here to find out where.
Types of Breast Pumps:
How should I store my expressed breast milk?
- Freshly expressed breast milk is safe to use at room temperature for up to four hours.
- Breast milk must be stored in a sterilized bag or container.
- You can buy sterile milk storage bags designed for freezing and storing breast milk.
If you are using a container you must sterilize it. See below for information on how to sterilize.
Hot parent tips:
You can freeze your milk in two to four ounce (60-120ml) quantities so you can thaw and warm it quickly.
Label the stored milk with the day, month and year.
In a deep freezer for 6-12 months
How to clean and sterilize your equipment:
How to use frozen breastmilk?
- Place frozen milk under cold running water until thawed, or thaw frozen milk in the fridge for several hours before it is needed.
- To warm breastmilk, place container in a bowl of warm water. Never heat breastmilk in the microwave because it can cause hot spots that can burn the baby’s mouth and affect the quality of the milk.
- Thawed breastmilk should be refrigerated and used within 24 hours. Do not refreeze.
- Frozen milk can separate when thawed, so shake the container gently.
- When purchasing bottles look for ones that are BPA free.
- It is recommended to sterilize all your equipment for the entire time your child is bottle feeding.
Healthy Child Manitoba Resource: Breastfeeding Your Baby