Review Article| Volume 33, ISSUE 5, P426-432, September 2020

Download started.


Expressed breastmilk handling and storage guidelines available to mothers in the community: A scoping review

Published:October 20, 2019DOI:



      There is an increasing number of mothers expressing their breastmilk, which presents new issues for infant feeding. A primary concern is handling, storage, and warming of expressed breastmilk.


      A scoping review was undertaken to explore online guidelines for handling and storage of expressed human breastmilk which are readily accessible to Australian mothers. Six common terms and questions regarding expressed breastmilk handling and storage were run through Google, Bing, and Yahoo search engines, and government health websites, informal milk sharing sites, and other sites frequently referenced on social media breastfeeding support pages.


      The top ten most cited resources were comparatively analysed. Only two of the resources were Australian based. There was a great variance in the guidelines offered for both handling and storage of expressed breastmilk. The most conservative storage recommendations for fresh breastmilk were up to 4 h at room temperature and 72 h in the refrigerator. The least conservative recommendations allowed fresh breastmilk to be stored at room temperature for up to 10 h and in the refrigerator for up to 8 days, albeit strictly dependent on the temperature of the room and cleanliness of the expression. The majority of recommendations cited the same primary source. All resources stated that thawed milk should never be refrozen.


      There are minimal Australian-based guidelines, and even less primary research, in the expressed breastmilk handling and storage space. The resources readily available to women in the community setting vary in ease of comprehension and can cause confusion.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Women and Birth
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • World Health Organization
        Exclusive breastfeeding for six months best for babies everywhere.
        • World Health Organization
        National implementation of the baby-friendly hospital initiative.
        WHO, Geneva, Switzerland2017
        • Australian College of Midwives
        Baby Friendly Health Initiative Accreditation.
        • Rasmussen K.M.
        • Geraghty S.R.
        The quiet revolution: breastfeeding transformed with the use of breast pumps.
        Am J Public Health. 2011; 101: 1356-1359
        • Mitoulas L.R.
        • Lai C.T.
        • Gurrin L.C.
        • Larsson M.
        • Hartmann P.E.
        Efficacy of breast milk expression using an electric breast pump.
        J Hum Lact. 2002; 18: 344-352
        • Binns C.
        • Win N.
        • Zhao Y.
        • Scott J.
        Trends in the expression of breastmilk 1993-2003.
        Breastfeed Rev. 2006; 14
        • Geraghty S.
        • Khoury J.
        • Kalkwarf H.
        Human milk pumping rates of mothers of singletons and mothers of multiples.
        J Hum Lact. 2005; 21: 413-420
        • Hornbeak D.M.
        • Dirani M.
        • Sham W.K.
        • Li J.
        • Young T.L.
        • Wong T.Y.
        • Chong Y.S.
        • Saw S.M.
        Emerging trends in breastfeeding practices in Singaporean Chinese women-findings from a population-based study.
        Ann Acad Med Singapore. 2010; 39: 88-94
        • Johns H.M.
        • Forster D.A.
        • Amir L.H.
        • McLachlan H.L.
        Prevalence and outcomes of breast milk expressing in women with healthy term infants—a systematic review.
        BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2013; 13
        • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
        2010 Australian national infant feeding survey: indicator results.
        AIHW, Canberra2011
        • Tully M.R.
        Recommendations for handling of mother’s own milk.
        J Hum Lact. 2000; 16: 149-151
        • Peters M.D.J.
        • McArthur A.
        • Munn Z.
        Safe management of expressed breast milk: a systematic review.
        Women Birth. 2016; 29: 473-481
        • Lessen R.
        • Kavanagh K.
        Position of the academy of nutrition and dietetics: promoting and supporting breastfeeding.
        J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015; 115: 444-449
        • McArthur A.
        • Peters M.
        • Munn Z.
        • Hong Chu W.
        Safe management of expressed breast milk (EBM): a rapid review.
        Sax Institute, 2015
        • Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health
        Storage, handling, and administration of expressed human breast milk—a review of guidelines.
        CADTH, 2016
        • Sharp E.
        The First Page of Google, by the Numbers.
        • Statista
        Popular search engines in Australia 2017.
        • Flesch R.
        How to write in plain English; a book for lawyers and consumers.
        Harper, New York1979
        • Mayo Clinic Staff
        Breast milk storage: do’s and don’ts.
        2018 (. [Accessed 31 August 2018])
        • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
        Proper Storage and Preparation of Breast Milk. 18 September 2018.
        2018 (. [Accessed 31 August 2018])
        • Perry C.
        The Dos and Don’ts of Breast Milk Storage. August 2018.
        2018 (. [Accessed 31 August 2018])
        • Raising children network
        Expressing and storing breastmilk. 30 July 2018.
        2018 (. [Accessed 31 August 2018])
        • Medela
        Breast milk storage.
        2018 (. [Accessed 31 August 2018])
        • Medela
        How to store, freeze and thaw breast milk.
        2018 (. [Accessed 31 August 2018])
        • KellyMom
        Breastmilk Storage & Handling. 15 March 2018.
        2018 (. [Accessed 31 August 2018])
        • Frost S.
        How Long is Thawed Breast Milk Good For?.
        2017 (. [Accessed 31 August 2018])
        • Australian Breastfeeding Association
        Expressing and storing breastmilk.
        2017 (. [Accessed 31 August 2018])
        • Ameda
        Breast milk storage guidelines: How to store breast milk safely.
        2018 (. [Accessed 31 August 2018])
        • Eglash A.
        • Simon L.
        • The Academy of Breastfeeding Medici
        ABM Clinical Protocol #8: Human Milk Storage Information for Home Use for Full-Term Infants, Revised 2017.
        • DuckDuckGo Blog
        Measuring the “Filter Bubble”: How Google is influencing what you click.