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Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses content from the English version of Wikipedia. The original article was at Breast milk. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Parenting wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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The International Breastfeeding Symbol

Human breast milk refers to the milk produced by a mother to feed her baby. It provides the primary source of nutrition for newborns before they are able to eat and digest other foods; older infants and toddlers may continue to be breastfed. The baby nursing from its own mother is the usual way of obtaining breastmilk, but the milk can be pumped and then fed by baby bottle, cup and/or spoon, supplementation drip system, and nasogastric tube. Breastmilk can be supplied by a woman other than the baby's mother; either via donated pumped milk (for example from a milk bank), or when a woman nurses a child other than her own at her breast - this is known as wetnursing.


The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, with solids gradually being introduced around this age when signs of readiness are shown. Supplemented breastfeeding is recommended until at least age two, as long as mother and child wish. Breastfeeding continues to offer health benefits into and after toddlerhood. These benefits include; lowered risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), increased intelligence, decreased likelihood of contracting middle ear infections, cold, and flu bugs, decreased risk of some cancers such as childhood leukemia, lower risk of childhood onset diabetes, decreased risk of asthma and eczema, decreased dental problems, decreased risk of obesity later in life, and decreased risk of developing psychological disorders.

Breastfeeding also provides health benefits for the mother. It assists the uterus in returning to its pre-pregnancy size and reduces post-partum bleeding, as well as assisting the mother in returning to her pre-pregnancy weight. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of breast cancer later in life.

Storage of expressed breast milk

Expressed breast milk can be stored for later use. It is recommended that the milk is stored in hard-sided containers with airtight seals. Plastic bags specifically manufactured for the storage of expressed breast milk are designed for storage periods of less than 72 hours. The amount of time that it can be safely stored for use by infants in a home-based situation is given in this table.

Place of storage Temperature Maximum storage time
In a room 25°C 77°F Six to eight hours
Insulated thermal bag with ice packs Up to 24 hours
In a refrigerator 4°C 39°F Up to five days
Freezer compartment inside a refrigerator -15°C 5°F Two weeks
A combined refrigerator and freezer with separate doors -18°C 0°F Three to six months
Chest or upright manual defrost deep freezer -20°C -4°F Six to twelve months

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