Storing and thawing breast milk

Breast milk is very precious. Follow the guidelines and tips below to store and thaw your breast milk so that you can preserve all the important nutrients and minimise bacterial contamination.


Guidelines for storing and thawing breast milk

How long does breast milk last in the fridge? What about frozen breast milk or milk at room temperature? Medela recommends using the following guidelines for storing breast milk.

Room temperature



Thawed breast milk

4-6 hours at 19 to 26°C
(66 to 78°F)

3-8 days at 4°C (39°F)
or lower

6-12 months at -18 to
-20°C (0 to 4°F)

In refrigerator for 10 hours
max. Warning: do not refreeze!


Tips for freezing or thawing breast milk

  • If you pump small amounts of breast milk several times a day, make sure you mix the milk portions only when they have all been well cooled in your refrigerator. Never add freshly pumped milk to milk that has already cooled.
  • Do not store breast milk in the door of the refrigerator. Instead choose the coldest part of the refrigerator: at the back of the shelf above the vegetable compartment.
  • You can use milk bottles or Pump & Save bags for freezing breast milk. Do not fill the bottles or bags more than 3/4 full as the milk will expand during freezing.
  • Label the bottles or bags with the date of expression.
  • Do not thaw or heat frozen breast milk in a microwave or in boiling water. This is to avoid vitamin and mineral loss and to avoid scalding your baby.
  • In order to preserve the components of the breast milk, it is best to thaw the milk in the refrigerator overnight. Alternatively, you can hold the bottle or bag under warm water (max. 37°C).
  • Gently swirl the bottle or Pump & Save bag to mix any fat that has separated. Avoid shaking or stirring the milk.

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