There are many questions asked by households when mothers start breastfeeding their children. Here are some examples: Is breastmilk better than formula milk? How do I store breast milk? Is there an expiration date for breast milk? What’s the shelf-life of breast milk? How long should I breastfeed my baby?
However, there is one important question most parents fail to address or even think about:
Most people do not think twice about the quality of the food products they buy until the “sell-by” or the “best-by” date. Breast milk also has a “best if used by date,” yet we shouldn’t view it quite the same as other foods.
How do you store or handle breast milk? There are many websites that explain the storage of breast milk. The shelf life of breast milk is determined by a number of factors: the environment and temperature it is kept in, storage techniques, type of container used, and clean practices used to express the milk.
The CDC has an excellent chart detailing how long one can store breast milk in various environments. (Click here to download The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine protocol for human-milk-storage information.)