Transporting breast milk for your baby in hospital

When babies start to have breast milk, they get small amounts.

So it’s best to store the milk in small volumes. The team caring for your baby in hospital will tell you about your baby’s feed volumes.

They will give you sterile disposable containers for storing your milk. The containers attach directly to the expressing sets.

Label each container with printed labels that have:

  • your baby’s name
  • their date of birth
  • your baby’s hospital number
  • the date and time you expressed the milk

Storing fresh breast milk

Ask about the hospital policy on storing breast milk. For premature or sick babies, store fresh milk in the fridge and use it within 48 hours.

If you're storing breast milk at home, check that the fridge temperature is 4 degrees Celsius or lower. Place the expressed milk at the back of the top shelf.

Storing frozen breast milk

Fresh milk is best for your baby but sometimes you need to freeze milk for use later.

When you fill a container with breast milk, leave at least 1 to 2 cm of space at the top. You need this space because milk expands when you freeze it.

Use frozen milk within 3 months of the date you froze it.

Store defrosted milk in the fridge. You must use defrosted milk within 24 hours.

Read more about storing expressed breast milk

Transporting breast milk

Use an insulated cooler bag or box to transport your breast milk. Clean or wipe the insulated bags with a disinfecting wipe before each use. If the milk reaches room temperature, you must use it within 4 hours.

If you go to the hospital every day, you can store your fresh breast milk in your fridge at home. Use an insulated cooler bag or box to take your milk to the hospital. The team caring for your baby can freeze the milk at the hospital.

If you freeze your milk at home, note the time you remove the milk from the freezer. Make sure it does not thaw on the way to the hospital. Use an insulated cooler bag or box with ice blocks or ice packs. Put the bag or box in the boot of your car to keep it cool.

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 10 November 2021
Next review due: 10 November 2024