Breastmilk as a Timekeeper + Storage Container Guidelines + Tips for Bottle Feeding Breastmilk

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

What happens when babies drink milk that does not come directly from the breast but is pumped at different times of the day and stored in advance of feeding?

Breast milk changes dramatically over the course of the day. For example, levels of cortisol – a hormone that promotes alertness – are three times higher in morning milk than in evening milk. Melatonin, which promotes sleep and digestion, can barely be detected in daytime milk, but rises in the evening and peaks around midnight.

Video: New Research: Consider a Time-Stamp for Breast-Pumped Milk


Just as storing food can change it. Even though these changes happen, any and all breastmilk is still amazing. We just aim to minimize the changes by following storage guidelines:


Storage guidelines emphasize time and temperature to ensure your milk is safe to feed your baby, but also to keep as much nutrition and immunity as possible.


Keep in mind the container type.


Coming straight from the breast is what we should compare to. There is 0% loss of nutrients and immune factors this way but alas, most times we have milk, not in this perfect container and want to store it.



First alternative: Glass.

+ Immune cells slide easily off the sides of the container.

+ Least loss of immune factors (same as hard plastic)

+ If the glass is darker, it can protect your milk from damage from light.

+ Silicone appears to behave similarly to glass but limited to one study.


Next alternative: Hard plastic.

+ Least loss of immune factors (same as hard plastic).


Last alternative: Soft plastic.

+ It can lose up to 60% of sIgA (specific immune factor) and some vitamins.

+ Fat can stick to the sides more (meaning loss of fat).


If those soft plastic storage bags are all you have - it’s okay!! Some immune factors in your milk are better than no immune factors. And just take special care to get the most fat off the sides as you can.


Important note: avoid plastic containers with the #3 or #7 (may contain BPA or BPS).


Other things to consider? Your storage space, your budget, your values, your time, your effort. So when choosing what you want to store your hard-earned breastmilk in, pick whatever one works for you!


Thank you to Robyn a Registered Dietitian, Certified Breastfeeding Specialist for this important information!


Tips for bottle feeding breastmilk:

Pay attention to hands and feet. If they are flaring out, chances are baby is being fed to fast. Bottles are easily fed to fast and babies have no options other than to suck in order to breathe. Practice paced bottle feeding, horlding bottle horizontally as much as possible. At the beginning of the feeding allow the nipple of the bottle to be empty of milk...this mimics breastfeeding

The postpartum time is a highly vulnerable time for mothers, fathers, and babies. You are reforming your brain and expanding your identity as a parent. If you are in need of positive support and guidance I specialize in creating a lasting impact on your health and healing as a new family It is time to reclaim the postpartum transition. You are worthy of positive postpartum support. Email SuzannaMiller@positivepostpartum.org to connect.




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