How Long Does Breast Milk Last In The Fridge (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 4 Days

Breast milk is the core source of nutrients and energy for a newborn. And doctors often advise new mothers to breastfeed their newborns frequently. But sometimes, not all mothers have the privilege of doing so.

Yes, we are talking about working mothers. Some women restart their careers soon after their baby is born and hence are not available to breastfeed their baby whenever it feels hungry.

For these women, there is, however, an option to pump and store the breast milk which can get used later to feed the baby when it is hungry. It is possible to even store the breast milk in the fridge so that it can come into use even in a couple of days.

How Long Does Breast Milk Last In The Fridge?

Any type of milk comes under perishable food products. The same rule applies to breast milk too. Breast milk on its own has a brief shelf life.

It depends on the method one is opting to store the breast milk, but even that will lead to breast milk going bad after a stipulated period. The best and the most accepted way of storing breastmilk is keeping it in the refrigerator. If you want to store breast milk in your fridge, then it can last for about four days until it goes bad.

Now, there are some other ways also that one can choose to store breast milk. These options include keeping it in the freezer or just pumping and storing it outside.

If you are more inclined towards storing the milk outside, then beware it will only last for about four to five hours. On the contrary, if you are willing to store breast milk in a freezer, then you can expect the milk to last for months. But it is best to use it within six months of storing breastmilk in the freezer.

RECOMMENDED
How Long Do You Microwave Corn On The Cob (And Why)?

There are upsides to storing the milk in the freezer. You just have to take out the milk and let it thaw, that’s it. There is no need to warm it up before consumption.

Storing ConditionShelf Life
In the fridgeUp to four days
In the freezerUp to 12 months.

Why Does Breast Milk Last That Long In The Fridge?

Everything has a shelf life or an expiry date, and breast milk is no exception to that. There is a certain time after which the consumption of breastmilk is a strict no as it creates problems in your digestive system.

Milk, eventually being a dairy product, is naturally high in fat and that is why it has chances to spoil soon after you have got it from the source. Apart from this primary reason why breast milk spoils fast, there are a few other reasons of spoilage:

  • Using the wrong storage container also becomes the reason why breast milk lasts only for a short duration of time. Always store breast milk in a glass container, and seal it properly it so that it does not leak. If you do not seal it properly, then the bacteria reacts with the air and that causes the milk to go sour. If a leak proof, BPA free container is being used, then the breast milk can easily stay in a good condition for up to four days.
  • Cleanliness is the key – it is very vital that you wash your hands properly before both pumping the milk and storing breast milk in the container.
  • You should always store breast milk towards the back of the refrigerator. When stored towards the back, it gets the maximum cooling and hence can stay up to four days without getting spoiled.
RECOMMENDED
How Long Does Cream Cheese Last (And Why)?

Conclusion

You should store something as fragile and important as breast milk with care. You need to be sure that you are following everything that is required, like cleaning your hands and using the right container, and storing it at the right temperature.

The reason it is good to follow all the rules is that it will keep the breast milk in a good condition for a long time.

Never warm up the breast milk, whether it is freshly pumped or thawed. Breast milk is perfectly consumable at room temperature.

References

  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0890334412453876
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1871519216300464