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Breast milk - pumping and storing

Milk - human; Human milk; Milk - breast; Breast pump information; Breastfeeding - pump

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Breast milk is the best nutrition for your baby. Learn to pump, collect, and store breast milk. You can continue to give your baby breast milk when you return to work. Find a lactation consultant, also called a breastfeeding expert, for help if you need it.

Be Prepared

Take time for you and your baby to learn and get good at breastfeeding. Before you go back to work, establish your milk supply. Take care of yourself so you make plenty of breast milk. Try to:

Giving Your Baby a Bottle

Wait until your baby is 3 to 4 weeks old to try a bottle. This gives you and your baby time to get good at breastfeeding first.

Your baby has to learn to suck from a bottle. Here are ways to help your baby learn to take a bottle.

Start bottle feeding about 2 weeks before you go back to work so your baby has time to get used to it.

Plan How You Will Pump Milk at Work

Buy or rent a breast pump. If you start to pump before you go back to work, you can build up a supply of frozen milk.

Figure out where you can pump at work. Ideally, there is a quiet, private room you can use.

Pump, collect, and store breast milk.

Collect breast milk when pumping. You can use:

Store your breast milk.

You can keep frozen milk:

Do not add fresh breast milk to frozen milk.

Thawing and Using Breast Milk

To thaw frozen milk:

Thawed milk can be refrigerated and used for up to 24 hours. Do not refreeze.

Do not microwave breast milk. Overheating destroys nutrients, and "hot spots" can burn your baby. Bottles may explode when you microwave them for too long.

When leaving breast milk with a child care provider, label the container with your child's name and the date.

Nursing and Bottle Feeding

If you are nursing as well as bottle feeding:


Furman L, Schanler RJ. Breastfeeding. In: Gleason CA, Juul SE, eds. Avery's Diseases of the Newborn. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 67.

Louis-Jacques A, Lawrence RM, Lawrence RA. The breast and the physiology of lactation. In: Lockwood CJ, Copel JA, Dugoff L, et al, eds. Creasy and Resnik's Maternal-Fetal Medicine: Principles and Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 11.

Newton ER. Lactation and breastfeeding. In: Landon MB, Galan HL, Jauniaux ERM, et al, eds. Gabbe's Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 25.

US Department of Health and Human Services website. Office on Women's Health. Breastfeeding: pumping and breastmilk storage. Updated February 22, 2021. Accessed December 14, 2022.


Review Date: 11/21/2022  

Reviewed By: LaQuita Martinez, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Alpharetta, GA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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