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Breastfeeding and Milk Storage

If you breastfeed your infant while at St. Jude, we understand that you may need to pump (express) your breast milk and store it for later use. It is important to store your milk properly so it is safe for your infant to drink.

Inpatients

When you arrive at St. Jude, tell a nurse that you’re breastfeeding and need to store your milk. Upon request, nursing staff will put a small refrigerator/freezer in your child’s room. The nurse will give you labels to place on your milk containers. These labels include your child’s name and medical record number. If you need a breast pump, the hospital can provide one.

We encourage you to continue breastfeeding your child while at St. Jude. Our lactation specialist can answer your questions and provide support.

Guidelines for expressing breast milk:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Use a clean container. This should be a bottle that comes in a sealed package. If you did not bring bottles from home, nurses will give you 2-ounce or 8-ounce bottles.
  • On the label, write your name, your child’s name, and the date and time (including a.m. or p.m.) that you expressed the milk. Put the label on the bottle.
  • Leave about 1 inch (2.54 cm) of space at the top of the bottle so the milk has room to expand if frozen. If milk will be used within 48 hours, it is best not to freeze it.
  • Close the bottle, label it, and place it in the refrigerator in your child’s room.
  • To avoid waste, freeze milk in amounts of 2–4 ounces (60–120 ml).
  • Breast milk can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 48 hours. To store milk longer, put it in a freezer in your child’s room, at your home, or at your housing facility.
Breastmilk being poured into a bottle.

We encourage you to continue breastfeeding your child while at St. Jude. Our lactation specialist can answer your questions and provide support.

Outpatients

St. Jude offers Mother’s Rooms for patient families and staff. You can use these rooms to breastfeed your infant. You can also use these rooms to express and store your milk.

Mother’s Rooms are open 24/7. Each room has a Symphony double electric pump for your use. Each room also includes a refrigerator to store breast milk. If you place milk in the refrigerator, you must label it with your name, your child's name, and the date and time (including a.m. or p.m.) that you expressed the milk. You will find labels and pens in one of the cabinets.

Refrigerators in the Mother’s Rooms are for short-term storage only. Please take your milk home with you each day when you leave St. Jude. Our staff will check the refrigerator regularly. If a label on a bottle is more than 1 day old, the milk will be thrown away.

Mother’s Room locations

  • Richard C. Shadyac ALSAC Tower, 2nd floor, Room C-2056
  • Patient Care Center (PCC), 4th floor, Room B-4041
  • Danny Thomas Research Center (DTRC), 1st floor, Room D-1001

To use the DTRC Mother's Room, check out the door key from the security guard in the DTRC lobby. Please return the key when you are finished. A security guard should always be at the desk. If the guard has stepped away, call extension 4444 to check out or return the key.

Storage for extra breast milk

  • Extra breast milk is stored in a secure freezer in the Nutrition Lab (part of Clinical Nutrition Services). Storage is available for up to 48 hours when all other storage areas are full. If you need this storage, contact your dietitian.
  • Human milk must stay frozen while in storage. After milk has thawed, do not re-freeze it.
  • After 48 hours, the dietitian will talk to you about whether your excess milk should be:
    • Thrown away
    • Sent home
    • Donated to a milk bank. In this case, you must give permission to send the milk to an approved milk bank. The dietitian can help you start the donation process. Nutrition Lab staff will remove the milk from storage and send it to the milk bank. Learn more at www.milkbank.org/donate-milk/.

Thawing human milk

Freeze milk in small amounts so it will thaw and warm quickly. To thaw frozen milk, hold the container under cool, running water until the milk reaches room temperature. Never heat human milk in a microwave.

You can refrigerate previously frozen, thawed milk for up to 24 hours. But, if the thawed milk is for an infant with a weak immune system, you should use it within 1 hour. Do not refreeze milk.

For more information

To learn more about breastfeeding or expressing and storing milk, call the St. Jude lactation specialist at 901-595-3318. Toll-free: 1-866-278-5833, extension 3318 or 3315.

Reminders

  • Store breast milk properly so it is safe for your infant to drink. Nursing staff can put a small refrigerator/freezer in your child’s room for milk storage.
  • Milk storage is also available in Mother’s Rooms on campus. Overflow freezer storage is available for up to 48 hours.
  • St. Jude staff can help with your breastfeeding needs. Call the lactation specialist for help and resources.


Reviewed: September 2022