Expressing & Storing Milk

Hand Expressing

Hand expressing is a useful skill that every mum should have. If you need help to learn, this video may be useful: 

Breast milk Storage

Good Hygiene

  • Wash your hands before expressing breastmilk.
  • Store in a plastic or glass container with an airtight sealed lid.  Containers and feeding equipment should be washed in hot soapy water and then rinsed.
  • If baby is three months old or younger, the containers and equipment also need to be sterilised with sterilising equipment or tablets to make sterilising solution. Alternatively, the containers and feeding equipment can be boiled.
  • Date the milk at the time of collection.
  • Store milk in small portions of up to or around 100mls to prevent waste.
  • Keep expressed breastmilk towards the back of the main body of the refrigerator where the temperature is remains more constant . The New Zealand Food Safety Authority recommends refrigerators are operated at 0–4oC (NZFSA 2008).

Below is a fact sheet with the New Zealand Ministry of Health Guideline for Storage of Breastmilk. 2013. Note that these guidelines are for expressed breastmilk that is fed to healthy, full-term infants who live at home.


Using Frozen Breastmilk

  • Defrost in the refrigerator or by placing the container of milk in warm water until the milk has thawed.
  • DO NOT defrost or heat using a microwave oven because microwaving destroys some of the milk’s immunological components. There is also a risk of uneven heating and scalding.
  • Warm expressed breastmilk by placing the cup or bottle containing the milk in hot water.
  • Before feeding baby, mix the milk well to “disolve” the top fat layer and to distribute the heat evenly.
  • Test the temperature of the milk by shaking a few drops on the inside of your wrist. It should feel comfortably warm to the touch before being given to your baby.