Breast milk is produced by human females to feed her child. It is the main source of nutrition for the babies, before they could eat solid food. Breast milk may be continued for older infants and toddlers along with solid food. Breastmilk is loaded with antibodies and nutrients required by the newborns to survive and grow. The production of breastmilk is triggered by the hormones oxytocin and prolactin. The milk produced initially is called colostrum, which contains highest concentration of immunoglobulin to protect the infant from infections and other germ till the baby’s own immune system is functioning properly. The milk can be pumped and stored to feed the baby later. The milk can be stored safely and kept fresh in a number of ways. (ALSO READ Why is breastfeeding healthy: Here are some breastfeeding benefits for you and your baby). Also Read - Here is How to Wean Your Baby From Breastfeeding
How long breast milk can be stored?
The breast milk will stay fresh for a longer period of time depending on where and how you have stored it. You can store the milk in the freezer or a refrigerator. Also Read - Study Finds Eating Natural Yogurt Daily May Lessen Breast Cancer Risk
At room temperature: Freshly pumped milk can stay fresh at room temperature for up to six hours. The optimal time period is four hours. The container used to store the milk is also important. Also Read - Watch | This Baby's Adorable Reaction to Her First Ice Cream Is Going Viral, Internet Says 'Aww'
In deep freezer: You can keep the milk in deep freezer, where it can stay fresh up to 12 months. The optimal period is six months. It is advisable to use the milk within six month of storing in the freezer.(ALSO READ Kareena Kapoor delivered a baby boy: Top 5 tips for breastfeeding).
In refrigerator: The freshly pumped milk or freshly expressed milk kept in the refrigerator will stay fresh for up to five days. Make sure the refrigerator is clean. It is advisable to use the milk within three days.(ALSO READ Best Breastfeeding Foods: Top 10 superfoods for lactating mothers).
Select a storage method based on how soon you plan to use the milk. Breast milk is healthier than baby food formulas and storing the milk will help you to keep your milk supply up and feed the baby even when you are not with your baby. Sometimes you may see a separation in the stored milk. Do not worry, this is normal and you can mix it up again with a gentle shake to the container. If you want to warm the stored milk. Place the sealed bag or bottle of milk in a bowl of warm water. You can use a breast milk storage bag to keep the milk in the regular freezer and a hard-plastic bottle for deep freezer.