Storing expressed breastmilk: the RULE OF 3

Pure liquid gold. Isn’t breastmilk amazing? Even more amazing is our ability to express our milk and store it so that we can feed our baby later, give top ups, or even allow someone else to help with the feed - especially helpful if you need to return to work, or take some time out to sleep, exercise, or simply take some other “me" time… and as mums, I feel we very rarely do enough of this.

Perhaps you’ve started pumping breastmilk to store it in the freezer to use at a later date? Or perhaps you’ve pumped and are now unsure of what to do with the milk until you need to use it?

Here is my handy guide that you can save as an image on your phone, or print and stick it on your fridge.

Sydney birth and postpartum doula shares guide to Expressed Breastmilk Rule of 3 - free download save image

My number one tip for storing breastmilk is to write the date and the number of milliliters on the bottle or ziplock bag (or whatever you’re storing it in). I personally used to use masking tape to write on bottles so I could remember which was which… however some of my clients have an order system in their fridge door (eg left to right for newest to oldest). Do whatever works for you.

So… the rule of three refers to time - ie 3 hours, 3 days or 3 months.

3 hours:
If you pump and plan to use your breastmilk straight away, you can leave it out at room temperature for 3 hours. If the weather is cooler, less than 26’C, then it may be possible to keep your milk at room temperature for up to 6 or even 8 hours. I always think it’s better to be safe than sorry, so if you’re unsure, pop it in the fridge.

3 days:
When storing your expressed breastmilk in the fridge, use it within three days. Make sure you label the date and the number of mls, and a handy tip to know is that if you have two batches that have had time to chill and reached fridge temperature, you can combine them and freeze them, noting the older date and the new combined mls total.

3 months:
If you aren’t sure when you’ll need to use your expressed breastmilk, it may be better to store in the freezer as when you do need it, it thaws quite quickly. If you do thaw it, use it within 4 hours. If you’re storing your milk in the freezer, you need to use it within 3 months.

Remember, never re-freeze or re-warm breastmilk, and discard any remaining or unused milk after the completion of the feed.

Hopefully you found the information in this blog to be useful. If you have any questions, please do get in touch or comment at the bottom of this page.
Amanda x


About Essential Me

Hi, I'm Amanda.  I support women and couples during their pregnancy, birth and postnatal journey as a Doula, Ka Huna massage therapist and Pilates instructor.  I'm Based in Sydney and would love to help you.  Please check out my Top 10 Tips for the best possible birth experience here.  I'd love to meet you for an obligation free interview to see if you feel we're the right fit.  Contact me here. Thanks, Amanda x