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How Long Does Pumped Milk Last?

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Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby. Some benefits include healthier immune system for your baby and lower health care costs, as well as less energy, time and cost to purchase, store and prepare infant formula. Unfortunately, there are situations where mothers have to be apart from their babies and many mothers are pumping and storing their milk for their babies while they are away.

So how long can you keep expressed breast milk? It all depends on the storage method.

Method Time
Room Temperature Up to 6 hours
Insulated coolers with ice packs Up to 1 day
Back of the refrigerator Up to 5 to 8 days
Back of a standard freezer Up to 3 to 6 months

Back of a chest freezer

Up to 6 to 12 months

Keep in mind:

  • Breast milk that you pumped when your baby is a newborn won’t meet your baby’s nutrition needs completely when he or she is older.
  • If your baby is preterm, sick or hospitalized, the storage guidelines may be different.

Tips for thawing:

  • Never thaw frozen breast milk at room temperature, because it can allow bacteria to grow and multiply in the milk.
  • Don’t heat a frozen bottle of milk in the microwave or very quickly on the stove as the milk won’t heat evenly. Some parts of the milk might be too hot and other parts might be too cold.
  • Use thawed breast milk within 24 hours. Don’t refreeze thawed or partially thawed breast milk. Throw away any remaining milk.
  • Be sure to label each bottle with the date. You can use the oldest milk first that way.


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About the Author

Rachel is a registered dietitian with a master's of science in nutrition. She is currently working as a clinical dietitian at a hospital in New York, mainly covering GI/bariatric surgery and pediatrics.


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