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Breast Feeding

Pumping and storing while still breastfeeding



When pumping and storing breast milk for my baby, How do I know how much he will need in a single feeding?

If I freeze it and have to much in a single bottle, is it still good for mulitple feedings after being thawed (does it need to be separated before the first feeding)?


You can avoid most of the potential problems by storing/freezing only 2 to 3 ounces (60-90 ml) of milk per container. It`s always easier for a sitter to thaw a second or third container in a pan of warm water than it is to thaw too much and later watch your unused "liquid gold" milk go down the drain. Milk can be thawed slowly by placing a container in the refrigerator overnight or more quickly by sitting in a pan of warm* water. In a single day, a baby will eat about 2 to 3 ounces (60-90 ml) per pound of weight, so a 10-pound (4.5 k or 4500 g) baby would need about 20 to 30 ounces (600 to 900 ml) of your milk in 24 hours. For a particular feeding, newborns and younger babies usually take between 2 to 4 ounces and older babies are likely to take 3 to 6 ounces per feeding. After an outing or two, you`ll learn how much your baby is likely to take when you are away.

Your question about dividing the milk or re-using the remainder in a bottle is receiving a lot of attention among researchers and lactation consultants. At this time, the advice still is to reuse any milk that has already been offered to a baby by the next feeding (within 4 hours) and to discard rather than refreeze any thawed milk remaining in the refrigerator within 24 hours. Therefore, if storing more than 2 or 3 ounces per container, it probably would be best to divide a larger amount after thawing between a couple of bottles before offering any to the baby. Immediately refrigerate the bottle to be used later. However, officials at human milk banks say those guidelines may be revised, as they learn more about the properties of properly stored/frozen human milk.

* Using very hot water or a microwave to thaw or warm breast milk can damage nutrients and anti-infective properties of human milk.


Lawrence RA & Lawrence RM (1999). Breastfeeding: A guide for the medical profession (5th ed.). St. Louis: Mosby.

Riordan J & Auerbach KG (1999). Breastfeeding and human lactation (2nd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

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Response by:

Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, MSN, RN, IBCLC
Adjunct Clinical Instructor
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati