How Long can Breast Milk Sit Out?


Breast milk from the mother has nourished, protected and helped raise babies since time immemorial. Like all mammals, humans possess mammary glands for the purpose of feeding their infants before they are ready for food from other sources. When a human baby is born, the mother usually starts lactating and continues to do so for up to one whole year. Babies are ideally supposed to depend on breast milk for at least the first six months of their lives. Babies who are breastfed are known to have greater immunity and other health benefits, as compared to those who are formula-fed. Read on to know about how long can breast milk sit out.

In case of unwilling mothers as well as in most cases of the royals across the world, another lactating mother breastfeeds the baby, if the parents are unwilling to resort to formula.

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A Guide for Breast Milk Storage

how long can breast milk sit out

Composition of breast-milk

Mature human milk contains 3%–5% fat, 0.8%–0.9% protein, 6.9%–7.2% carbohydrate calculated as lactose, and 0.2% mineral constituents expressed as ash. Its energy content is 60–75 kcal/100 ml. Protein content is markedly higher and carbohydrate content lower in colostrum than in mature milk. Fat content does not vary consistently during lactation but exhibits large diurnal variations and increases during the course of each nursing. The principal proteins of human milk are a casein homologous to bovine beta-casein, alpha-lactalbumin, lactoferrin, immunoglobulin iga, lysozyme, and serum albumin. Many enzymes and several “minor” proteins also occur. The essential amino acid pattern of human milk closely resembles that found to be optimal for human infants.

Possible special functions of milk proteins and enzymes other than as a source of amino acids are as yet largely speculative. Human milk fat is characterized by high contents of palmitic and oleic acids. The former heavily concentrated in the 2-position and the latter in the 1- and 3-positions of the triglycerides. Fatty acid composition of milk fat varies somewhat with the composition of diet, particularly the fatty acids which it supplies. Phospholipids, amounting in the aggregate to about 75 mg/100 ml, include phosphatidyl ethanolamine, phosphatidyl choline, phosphatidyl serine, phosphatidyl inositol, and sphingomyelin. The principal mineral constituents of human milk are na, k, ca, mg, p, and cl. Iron, copper, and zinc contents of human milk vary considerably. A long list of other trace elements has been reported.


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Can breast-milk be refrigerated?

If you’re breastfeeding and going back to work or looking for more flexibility, you’re probably considering using a breast pump. Once you start pumping, it’s important to know how to safely store your expressed milk. Consider these do’s and don’ts for breast milk storage. Place the bags in a hard plastic food storage container with a tightly sealed lid. Don’t store breast milk in disposable bottle liners or plastic bags designed for general household use.

Place the containers in the back of the refrigerator or freezer, where the temperature is the coolest. If you don’t have access to a refrigerator or freezer, store the milk temporarily in an insulated cooler. Therefore, you should know that by following certain conditions, it is possible to refrigerate breastmilk.

How long can breast-milk sit out?

It’s always best to refrigerate or freeze milk right away, but what if you’re at work? Or what if you forgot about a bottle on the counter? Luckily, breast milk is a live food that can withstand being left out for a relatively long amount of time. Freshly expressed milk can be stored at room temperature for 6–8 hours. If the room is particularly warm, it’s more like 4 hours. Freshly expressed milk can be stored in an insulated cooler with an ice pack for 24 hours. Fresh milk can be stored in the back of the refrigerator for 3–8 days (assuming it was collected as carefully as possible). Ideally, it should be used or frozen within 3 days. Thawed milk can stay in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Don’t refreeze. Fresh breast milk should be stored in the back, away from the door, and should be used within 6 months. Fresh milk can be stored in a deep freezer for 6–12 months.

Breastfeeding is a completely natural act and you should know that most, if not all new mothers, are physically capable of doing this. However, not too much is talked about this, which is why a lot of people don’t have adequate info of the do’s and don’ts of breast milk. This article has made a humble attempt at bringing all the necessary information at your fingertips, but for further information, you should always consult your doctor.

Hope this article was of help to all our parents!! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy and Healthy Babies!!