The best option for storing your breast milk is in a refrigerator at work. Your milk should stay fresh in a refrigerator (about 4°C or 39°F) for about 5 days.
Thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, legislation signed into effect in 2010, many employers are establishing lactation rooms for their breastfeeding employees. These rooms often have chairs and electrical outlets; many include small refrigerators for milk storage. Be sure to place your milk in the middle of the compartment; don’t put it in the refrigerator door, and make sure it is far enough inside to avoid normal temperature changes caused by opening and closing the door.
Alternatively, a small cooler with blue-ice packs (about 15°C) will work well. Stored this way, your milk will be fine for up to 24 hours. If you forget your blue-ice packs, your milk can even be stored at room temperature (about 25°C or 77°F) for 5 hours.
Here are a few additional tips for storing your milk at work:
- Collect your milk in food-grade containers free of bisphenol A (BPA). (Most bottle makers have removed BPA from their products, but if you’re using a plastic bottle, check that the packaging is clearly labeled as “BPA-free.”)
- Label the container with the date, time and—if necessary—your name or your child’s name.
- Store your milk in single-serving portions. Two-ounce servings are a good size for young babies, and your caregiver can combine servings as needed. This allows some flexibility in preparing the milk, while minimizing waste.
- Leave some space at the top of the container, if you plan to freeze your milk since milk expands as it freezes.