Pumping and storing breastmilk

Mothers who want to share the joy of feeding their newborn breastmilk, or who are preparing to return to work, may want to pump and store their milk.


We recommend electric pumps over hand pumps unless you plan to use your pump only occasionally. Your insurance may pay to rent a pump for a few months if you or baby are having a medical problem.

You can rent a pump, or borrow a pump from a friend. Just be sure to purchase new attachments. If you are planning to pump for more than five months or anticipate more children, you will save money by purchasing a pump.

Storing breastmilk

Freshly pumped breastmilk can be kept at room temperature (77º F or cooler) for up to 4 hours or in the coldest part of your refrigerator (40º F) for up to four days. Milk can be stored in a freezer (0º F) for up to 12 month. Milk in a cooler or previously frozen and thawed needs to be used with 24 hours and left over milk from a feeding (baby didn’t finish the bottle) should be used within 2 hours after the baby last fed from that bottle.

You can freeze it in bags sold to you by the pump company in small, 2-4 oz amounts to avoid wasting milk. Or simply pour it into sterilized ice cube trays, freeze the cubes, pop them out and place them in a zip-type freezer bag labeled with the date.

Thawing frozen breastmilk

Heat frozen milk in a bottle either in a pot of hot water or under hot running tap water. Never use a microwave. And do not attempt to re-freeze thawed breastmilk.

Feeding your newborn

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Breastfeeding comes easily to some mothers and their babies, but can be a challenge for others. Latching your baby correctly is the first step in breastfeeding.