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Bottle of breast milk

Breastfeeding milk

Expressing and Storing Breast Milk

Women express and store breast milk for many reasons, preparing for a night out, returning to work and illness, to a name a few. During the early days of feeding is when your body is producing excess quantities of milk and many women take the opportunity of expressing and storing at this time. Here are some tips.


  • Wash your hands before expressing.
  • Find a quiet place to sit and relax before starting.
  • Have a glass of water on hand.
  • Some women suggest having a picture of their baby to look at as it helps to allow the let down reflex happen.
  • Ensure all your equipment is appropriately cleaned and sterilised.

Storing Your Milk

  • Ensure you write a date on each container before storage.
  • Breastmilk should be stored in plastic or glass containers with an airtight sealed lid. Speak to your local pharmacy about products available.
  • Breastmilk freshly expressed into a closed container will last in the fridge for up to 48 hours. It should be stored in the back of the fridge where it is coldest.
  • The NZ Food Safety Authority recommends refrigerators are operated at 0-4 oC.
  • Breastmilk freshly expressed into a closed container will last in the freezer compartment inside a fridge for a maximum of 2 weeks but for approximately 3-6 months if stored in the freezer section of a fridge with a separate door.
  • The NZ Ministry of Health Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Infants and Toddlers (2008) have further information on the storage of breastmilk for home use.

Thawing and Re-heating Your Milk

  • Frozen expressed breastmilk can be thawed in the refrigerator or by placing the container of milk in warm water until the milk has thawed.
  • NOTE: It is recommended that you DO NOT use a microwave for heating breastmilk as it affects the fats and proteins.

For more information see Breastfeeding or Baby Care