Home > FAQ > Breastfeeding Tips > Pumping & Storing Breastmilk
Breastfeeding Tips on Pumping including breast milk collection and storage, breast pump comparisons, used breast pumps, pumping exclusively and using a breast pump effectively.

Breast Milk Collection

Before beginning collection of breast milk, always wash your hands. Make sure the pump parts that will touch the milk are sterile (can be sterilized in the top rack of the dishwasher, a microwave sterilizer bag or boiling water for 5-10 minutes). After pumping store milk in 2-4 oz increments to reduce waste. Pump directly into BPA free plastic or glass bottles that you can seal with a solid lid or ring and disk lid. You can also pump into freezer bags that are specifically designed for storing mothers' milk. Breast milk is good at room temperature for up to 4 hours, refrigerator for up to 4 days, freezer for up to 6 months and deep freeze for up to 12 months. Make sure to freeze refrigerated milk within 24 hours if you are not going to use it within 4 days. Refrigerate breastmilk immediately if you are not going to use it within four hours. Never refreeze breast milk or put milk back in the fridge. Never put milk on the stove or in the microwave. To thaw or warm, simply place the milk in warm water. To determine more closely how much breast milk to put in each bottle for a baby who is less than six months old, take the baby's weight and multiply by 2.5. Then divide by the number of feeding per day. After the age of six months, the baby needs 24-32 oz per day which is approximately 5-6 oz per feeding 5-6 times per day. See our breastmilk intake chart for more information.

Breast Milk Storage
The following breast milk storage information on the chart below is recommended for feeding full term infants by the CDC, USDA, WIC, La Leche League and other breastfeeding authorities.



To avoid waste and for easier thawing & warming, store milk in 1-4 ounce portions. Date milk before storing. Milk from different pumping sessions/days may be combined in one container – use the date of the first milk expressed. Breast milk is not spoiled unless it smells bad or tastes sour.

How To Thaw Breast Milk
  • Thaw breast milk slowly in the refrigerator (this takes about 12 hours – Try putting breastmilk in the fridge the night before you need it).
  • Avoid letting breastmilk sit out at room temperature to thaw.
  • For quicker thawing, hold container under running water - Start cool and gradually increase temperature.
  • Previously frozen milk may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours after it has finished thawing.
  • Do not refreeze.

    How To Warm Breast milk
    Heat water in a cup or other small container, then place frozen milk in water to warm; or Use a bottle warmer. NEVER microwave human milk or heat it directly on the stove. The cream will rise to the top of the milk during storage. Gently swirl milk (do not shake) to mix before checking temperature and offering to baby.

    If baby does not finish milk at one feeding, it may be used within two hours feeding before it is discarded.

    Pumping Exclusively
    Some moms choose to pump exclusively and a good pump and good scheduling can keep up milk supply. However, before you choose this option, you need to know that moms who pump exclusively tend to wean faster due to the cleaning of the pump parts and bottles instead of the have milk will travel option of moms who can nurse when they are with their baby and only pump at work. If you choose this option, you need to pump no less than 10-15 minutes of double pumping 8 times per day until your baby is 6 months old. You also need to pump 11-12 times per day for 5 days in a row during typical growth spurt times which are 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months. At 6-12 months, you should pump no less than 5 times per day.

    Should you get your breast pump through insurance?
    Getting a pump through your insurance company can be a good option, especially if they offer premium brands such as Hygeia or Spectra breast pumps. However, most manufacturers make pumps specifically for insurance companies so they don't always include all the amenities. For example, getting a Spectra through your insurance company means you will not be able to get the Spectra SG model with independent controls for each breast. In some cases, the best option is to purchase the pump from a private pay DME such as Lactation Connection, where you can get the breast pump you want and then file for reimbursement with your insurance company if that is allowed on your plan. Most insurance companies reimburse within 30 days which means you may get reimbursement before your credit card bill is due. Or if you have an HSA or FSA credit card, you can use that to purchase your pump. If you are a work from home mom, then an insurance pump may be adequate or you can purchase additional breast pump accessories as needed if your insurance company only pays for pumps they specify.

    Should you Buy or Sell a Used Breast Pump?
    The issue of buying or selling used pumps is something some breastfeeding moms encounter. Although a used pump may be more affordable than a new one, there are possible legal and health implications involved. Below you will find more on the legality of selling used breast pumps, what some pump manufacturers say about used pumps.

    If you are thinking about buying or selling a used pump, we urge you to read over this information before making your decision.

    U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Position on used breast pumps:
    According to the FDA, if a breast pump is labeled a "single user" or "single patient" device, that pump is only intended for one user and cannot legally be resold. By selling a pump that has been designated "single user" by the FDA, the pump is not being used in accordance with the FDA and is being "mis-branded," which is technically against the law, and the FDA could take action.

    The reason the FDA designates many breast pumps as "single user" devices, is that there is no complete way to clean certain pumps to ensure that the breast milk of the original user is not still within the pump system. Because some diseases have been shown to exist in breast milk, the possibility of transmitting diseases through a used breast pump does exist, although it appears that no such cases have been documented.

    To find out if your breast pump has been designated "single user" by the FDA, please consult the operating instructions that came with the breast pump when you purchased it.

    Here are some common breast pumps that are labeled "single user" devices:
  • Isis and Isis iQ Breast Pumps by Avent
  • The Ameda ® Purely Yours Breast pump
  • The Medela Pump In Style® Breast pump and the Lansinoh breast pumps.

    Some breast pumps that are not labeled "single user" devices:
  • Medela Lactina® Breast pump, Medela Symphony® Breast pump
  • Ameda Platinum ® Breast pump, Ameda Lact-E ® Breast pump
  • Ameda Elite® Breast pump, Spectra S3 Pro Breast pump

    Breast pumps purchased at department stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, and some baby stores such as Buy Buy Baby, Baby Depot, etc. are often "single user" breast pumps. Pumps that are designated by the FDA to be safe for multiple users are generally hospital grade breast pumps purchased from a local or online DME. Lactation Connection is a private pay DME.

    If you have a breast pump you are considering selling, please consult the product information first, to be sure the pump is not labeled "single user." And, if you are considering buying a used breast pump, please determine whether or not the pump is a "single user" pump before purchasing it. You could ask the seller to check the product information to be sure.

    Medela's Position:
    Many mothers have asked if they can safely sell, purchase, or use a previously owned breast pump. Medela is concerned about the health and welfare of breastfeeding mothers and their babies. Breastfeeding is certainly the best way to feed your baby, and is the gold standard of infant nutrition. There is some evidence, however, that certain serious viruses* may be transmittable through breast milk. For this reason, it is not advisable to use a previously owned breast pump. Breast pumps are single-user products, or personal care items, much like a toothbrush, and are registered with the FDA as single user items.

    For safety, breast pumps should never be shared, resold, or lent among mothers. Medela strongly discourages mothers from re-using or re-selling previously owned breast pump equipment. The Medela Pump In Style® Breast pump has an internal diaphragm that cannot be removed, replaced, or fully sterilized. Therefore, the risk of cross-contamination associated with re-using a previously owned pump such as the Pump In Style cannot be totally dismissed. Multiple use of single-user breast pump automatically voids the warranty of the Medela product. Each mother who wishes to express milk with a pump should use a clean, uncontaminated breast pump. This is the safest way to eliminate any risk of cross-contamination.

    Rental pumps such as the Ameda Elite and Platinum, the Hygeia EnDeare as well as the Medela Symphony and Lactina® pumps are made to be safely used by repeated clients who each use their own clean personal rental kit, therefore avoiding any possible cross-contamination. Rental pumps, when used according to the instructions, are safe to use by multiple mothers who have their own personal kits.

    We are invested in continuing health and safety of mothers and babies. Many mothers who wish or need to express milk regularly find that using a high quality breast pump can help avoid the costly alternative of using artificial baby milk, which sometimes approaches or exceeds $1000 for the first year of baby's life. Mothers who pump frequently may find that the cost of a high quality breast pump, when compared to the price of artificial baby milk is reasonable, and a wise investment in the present and future health of their children and themselves.

    1. *It is believed by some physicians and researchers that human breast milk can possibly contain viruses if the mother is infected. Such viruses may include CMV (Cytomegalovirus), HIV-Human Immunodeficiency Virus (AIDS), and HTLV-1 (Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus Type 1.)

    2. Ruth A. Lawrence, MD, Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession (St. Louis, Missouri: Mosby-Year Book, Inc., 1999), pp. 225.

    Avent America's Position:
    We at Avent America are always striving to provide mothers with quality products at reasonable prices to help them breastfeed longer. Research has shown that breast milk can transmit many contagious viruses. It is for this reason that we strongly recommend that you NEVER use a previously owned breast pump. The Isis Breast Pump is considered to be a personal care item and has been designed to be for single use only. Mothers should never share breast pumps. Sharing or using a previously owned breast pump could put you and your baby at a potential risk for exposure to serious health risks.

    Some of the viruses that can be within breast milk are:
  • HIV - Human Immunodeficiency Virus (AIDS)
  • HTLV-1 Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus Type I
  • CMV - Cytomegalovirus

    When you are using a previously owned breast pump you create the risk of cross contamination. It is for this reason that AVENT AMERICA STRONGLY SUGGESTS NEVER USING, BORROWING, PURCHASING OR SELLING A PREVIOUSLY USED/PRE-OWNED BREAST PUMP.

    Since a mother's breast milk is the most precious gifts of nutrition/health she can give her baby, DON'T take the chance of sharing someone else's viruses with your baby. Quality affordable breast pumps can be purchased for less than the cost of two months worth of formula.

    Using a Breast Pump Effectively
    Breast pumps can be useful tools for the modern nursing mother. They can be used to offset engorgement, storing milk, working and breastfeeding, allowing for date nights, increase milk supply and more. With formula costing over $150 per month, there is no reason not to invest in a quality double pumping fully automatic pump. They can range in price from $160-$300, but look for name brands such as Spectra, Ameda, Medela, Hygeia and Motif. Make sure the pump is fully automatic with variable speed of up to 60 cycles per minute and variable suction of up to 220 mg of mercury. Models for personal use that meet that criteria are the Spectra S1, S2, S3, S3 Pro, and Spectra Synergy Gold, Ameda Purely Yours Finesse and Mya breast pumps, the Medela Pump In Style, the Motif Luna Breast Pump and the Hygeia EnJoye breast pumps.
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