Breastmilk Storage and Shipping Instructions
The following table gives information regarding how long breastmilk can be safely stored under various temperature conditions.
Before storing, all breastmilk (even that collected at home for use at home) must be labeled with the time and date of collection.
Milk that will be used in the hospital must also be labeled with the baby's name and medical record number.
|Breastmilk||Hospital Use||Home Use|
|Fresh, room temperature||4 hours||8 hours|
|Fresh, refrigerated||72 hours||8 days|
|Thawed, after freezing||24 hours||24 hours|
|Frozen (-20° to 0° F)||12 months||12 months|
|Frozen in home freezer (5° - 15° F)||6 months||6 months|
|Frozen in small interior freezer||2 weeks||2 weeks|
*Do not store milk in the door compartments of the refrigerator or freezer.
If you are flying home, we recommend you call the airline for their breastmilk packaging/labeling recommendations. For long flights you will need dry ice. You will need to let them know the milk is a ‘bodily fluid’ and may need to declare the dry ice as a ‘hazardous substance'. Plan to ship your milk frozen.
If the airline charges a prohibitive amount (as the containers will be heavy), consider overnight express service via FedEx. A list of dry ice providers with their location and contact information is listed below.
Packaging Your Milk
You will need the following items to package breastmilk for either airline transport or for shipping.
- Coolers large enough to hold milk bottles, newspaper layers, and dry ice (if needed)
- Duct tape for sealing coolers after inspection (in the event the airlines needs to inspect the containers)
- Shipping labels per airline instructions
- Old newspapers
- Large zip lock bags
- Dry ice (about 2 lbs per cooler)
Target or a large drugstore will have the coolers, tape, markers and bags.
For packaging, use frozen breastmilk and follow the steps below
- Put as many bottles of milk into zip lock bags as will fit.
- Seal the bags.
- Wrap dry ice in paper and put in bottom of cooler.
- Layer newspaper over the ice.
- Put the bags of milk into the cooler.
- Pad the bags of bottles with crumpled newspaper.
- Have shipping labels and tape on hand on hand when you check in.
We advise you to number the containers and have labels both on the inside and the outside of the cooler.
FedEx nationwide: 800-463-3339
FedEx San Jose: 408-268-9600 or 800-845-4647
They can provide you with shipping charges and information on how to pack the milk.
Dry Ice Providers
Information for some of the dry ice providers in the San Francisco Bay area is listed below. We recommend you contact the providers to determine availability (may be seasonal), price, and hours of operation.
LUCKY 815 Marina Village 510-521-9113
SAFEWAY 867 Island Drive 510-521-4833
SAFEWAY 1100 El Camino Real 650-596-1730
SAFEWAY 144 Shattuck Place 510-526-3086
MOLLIE STONE'S 1477 Chapin Ave 650-558-9992
SAFEWAY 1450 Howard Ave 650-343-3488
LUCKY 6843 Mission Street 650-992-6260
SMART & FINAL 6967 Mission Street 650-997-3151
SAFEWAY 3889 San Pablo Avenue 510-450-1200
LUCKY 2175 Grant Road 650-969-1326
SAFEWAY 160 First Street 650-941-1801
SAFEWAY 325 S. Sharon Drive 650-854-3056
SAFEWAY 525 El Camino Real 650-847-2901
LUCKY 45 Murchison Drive 650-692-0429
NOB HILL FOODS 1250 Grant Road 650-654-2106
SAFEWAY 645 San Antonio Road 650-948-4533
FOOD MAXX 3000 E. 9th Street 510-437-8000
SAFEWAY 3747 Grand Avenue 510-465-4187
SAFEWAY 1380 Linda Mar Blvd 650-359-6706
SAFEWAY 12 Manor Plaza 650-359-2751
MOLLIE STONE'S 164 S. California Ave 650-323-8361
LUCKY 200 Woodside Plaza 650-369-8678
SAFEWAY 850 Woodside Road 650-365-2522
LUCKY 1322 El Camino Real 650-742-9733
MOLLIE STONE'S 22 Bayhill Shopping Center 650-873-8075
SAFEWAY 2020 Market Street 415-861-7660
UNITED LIQUORS 2401 Chestnut Street 415-567-0580
SAFEWAY 5146 Stevens Creek Blvd 408-556-0610
SAFEWAY 1655 El Camino Real 650-341-0374
SMART & FINAL 1840 S. Norfolk Street 650-345-1335
LUCKY 3705 El Camino Real 408-247-5200
SAFEWAY 12876 Saratoga-Sunnyvale Rd 408-867-0180
South San Francisco:
SAFEWAY 2255 Gellert Blvd 650-588-9005
LUCKY 484 N. Mathilda Avenue 408-737-1834
SAFEWAY 639 S. Bernardo Ave 408-732-5900
On August 4, 2007 the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) lifted the restrictions that were previously imposed on mothers who wanted to carry expressed breastmilk in their carry-on luggage. Mothers are now permitted to bring any amount of breastmilk on board, along with cold packs, as long as these items are declared prior to security screening.
For more detailed information, see the Transportation Security Administration website.