Ensure Proper Breast Milk Storage

June 14, 2019

Breastmilk is an extremely sensitive substance, and while it's produced naturally, many mothers need to pump extra in advance and keep it stored in refrigerators until feeding time for their babies. Safe breastmilk storage in hospitals is critical to the health and care of newborn babies, particularly for premature and other high-risk births who are in NICU (neonatal ICU). 

In order to keep each patient's milk safe for consumption, there are certain breastmilk storage guidelines (may also be written as breast milk storage) that hospitals and other facilities must follow. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide safe guidelines for how to store breastmilk.

Breastmilk Storage Guidelines from the CDC

According to the CDC, breastmilk that has been freshly pumped can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 4 days, or frozen, ideally for 6 months, but no longer than 12 months. Freshly pumped breastmilk can be left at room temperature for up to 4 hours, but breastmilk that has been thawed from frozen should only be left out for 1-2 hours. Once it's placed in the refrigerator, the proper breast milk temperature for safe breast milk storage is 4°C, or 40°F. If the breastmilk is being frozen, it should be stored in a freezer at -18°C (0°F) or colder.

When storing breastmilk, avoid bottles with the recycle symbol number 7 to ensure that the container doesn't contain BPA-plastic. Use breastmilk storage bags or clean containers with tight-fitting lids, to protect against spoiling. 

The CDC's breastmilk storage guidelines also recommend properly labeling breastmilk containers with the child's name, so that they don't get mixed up with another baby's milk. When patients' breastmilk is mixed up and fed to the wrong baby, it puts the baby's health at risk and increases the risk for contamination by infectious diseases. To prioritize patient care and infant health, hospital refrigerator policy should expressly state these breastmilk storage guidelines.

Refrigerator Storage Options

Phononic's line of medical grade solid state refrigerators are designed to meet breastmilk storage guidelines and keep infant patients safe and healthy. Because breastmilk is so sensitive and critical to babies' health, it's not sufficient for it to be stored near the right temperature. Hospitals and other facilities need to ensure that their fridges remain at the desired temperature, with minimal fluctuation, at all times. 

Phononic refrigerators offer significantly better temperature stability over traditional refrigerators, to protect breastmilk from spoiling. By using solid state technology instead of compressors, our refrigerators are also compact in size and virtually noiseless, so they can be kept right in patient rooms. This protects breastmilk from being mixed up in a central storage location, reducing the risk of contamination. It also promotes a family-oriented NICU, by allowing the baby and mother to stay in the same room, with their milk readily available.