Expert Advice

Breastmilk Storage for Your NICU Baby’s Health

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Making breastmilk storage as easy as possible helps ease some of the stress of your baby being in NICU, especially if he’s there because he’s premature.

Your little one may need some extra time before they can actually nurse. And his little stomach doesn’t need much to fill it. If that’s the case, you have a little time to figure out your system.

If you go home before baby does, the hospital may supply you with an electric pump. Otherwise, ask your great caregivers for information on renting. And check with your insurance company to see if they reimburse for the cost.

Electric pumps tend to be the most efficient

But you can use a manual pump or hand express, it will just require more time. For some women, the slower pace of manual pumping serves also gives them time for them to reflect on birth, babies, and boobies.

No matter which pump you use, wash all its parts well before your first use and after each use to prevent bacteria being passed to your vulnerable baby. Rinse first in cold water then use hot. You don’t have to sterilize your pump (not all the parts are capable of being sterilized anyway) but you should wash parts in warm, soapy water.

mother kissing new born hand

When you’re bringing your magic milk from home, breastmilk storage is super important

Feeding breastmilk in the NICU needs a love transporter

Choose a special hospital bag that you take with you each time. And make a hospital bag checklist for this so you know you’ve got everything you’ll need for pumping and breastmilk storage, like

  • Cooler
  • Ice packs
  • Pump
  • Marker for writing on bags
  • Extra flanges
  • Extra bags
  • Change of blouse/shirt for you
  • Scarf or shawl for cool hospital climate
  • Stuff to read
  • Phone charging cord
  • Earbuds
  • Snacks
  • Water

Transporting pumped milk to the hospital

Whatever temperature your milk is at home, it should stay at that temperature. While you transport it, use enough ice packs to keep frozen milk frozen. If your milk is refrigerated, use only enough ice packs so it keeps cool but won’t begin to freeze.

Each pumping session should be put into a different bag

But, if you’re emptying both breasts in one session you can mix the milk from both breasts.

Fill your milk bags only ¾ full to allow the milk to expand as it freezes. And keep portions between one ounce and four ounces to prevent waste.

Because your miraculous breastmilk can be damaged, keep only a 24-48 hour supply at the hospital. Click To Tweet

Breastmilk storage bags that you take to NICU should be labeled with

  • Your baby’s name
  • Date of expression
  • Time of day you pumped
  • Any medications you are taking

Pumping at the hospital gives your baby fresh milk

But remember that it needs to be consumed within an hour, unless it can be refrigerated.

Who is your support?

You’re healing. And your baby isn’t home with you. Statistics show that breastfeeding moms do best when they have a support person or system or community. In NICU the staff are full of experience and want to help. Probably, there’s a lactation consultant you can talk with about breastmilk storage and other tips.

You are amazing!

Even though you’re healing from birth you are still dedicated to giving your baby the best start you can. No one said it would be easy, and it’s not. But you’re doing it anyway!

Most of all, remember that with the jam-packed goodness of breastmilk for your NICU baby, every drop counts.


 To learn more about how Best Ever Baby supports awareness, education and community connection to baby friendly topics and resources for new moms, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.
This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner. These trusted experts talk about breastfeeding, safe sleep, skin-to-skin and so much more, providing thoughtful guidance to help parents make the healthiest choices for their families.

Published: March 21, 2017 |By SP Turgon, Certified Labor Doula | Reviewed by: The Best Ever Baby Expert Team | Last reviewed: February, 2017


Sabriga TurgonBreastmilk Storage for Your NICU Baby’s Health

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