Milk expression is done for many reasons, including:
- Mom and baby are separated because of illness.
- Premature infant is unable to nurse normally.
- Mother's breasts are uncomfortably full.
- Baby is an ineffective nurser because of latching difficulty.
- Mom has a low milk supply and is attempting to increase production.
- Mom is away from her baby for more than a few hours at a time.
- Mom is returning to work.
- Mom is on medication that is not compatible with breastfeeding.
There are different ways to express breast milk, including:
- Manual expression.
- Single pumping with a battery-powered or electric breast pump.
- Double pumping with an electric breast pump.
If you have questions about which method is right for you, ask a lactation support person for advice.
How long can you store breast milk?
Freshly Expressed Breast Milk
- Room temperature—4 hours at 66 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (19 to 22 degrees Celsius).
- Refrigerator—5 to 7 days at 32 to 39 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 4 degrees Celsius).
- Self-contained refrigerator freezer unit—3 to 4 months.
- Deep freezer—6 to 12 months at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-19 degrees Celsius).
Thawed Breast Milk
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- Room temperature—do not store.
- Refrigerator—24 hours.
- Note: You should never refreeze thawed milk. Throw away any thawed milk within 24 hours.