Newborn Nursery at LPCH

Breastmilk Storage and Shipping Instructions


Storing breastmilk

Shipping breastmilk

Packaging breastmilk for shipping

FedEx Information

Dry Ice suppliers in the SF Bay Area

Airplane travel with expressed breastmilk



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 labelled with the time and date of collection. Milk that will be used in the hospital must also be labelled 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

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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.

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You will need the following items to package breastmilk for either airline transport or for shipping.

Target or a large drugstore will have the coolers, tape, markers and bags.

For packaging, use frozen breastmilk and follow the steps below:  

  1. Put as many bottles of milk into zip lock bags as will fit.
  2. Seal the bags.
  3. Wrap dry ice in paper and put in bottom of cooler.
  4. Layer newspaper over the ice.
  5. Put the bags of milk into the cooler.
  6. Pad the bags of bottles with crumpled newspaper.
  7. 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.

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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.


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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.

Aeris-Wesco Gases Division
947 Broadway St, Redwood City, CA
(650) 368-2821

Airgas Dry Ice
961 Bing St, San Carlos, CA
(650) 592-4212

Alliance Gas Products
411 Old County Rd, Belmont, CA
(650) 593-1838

America's Ice Cream
2297 Spring St, Redwood City, CA
(650) 780-0416

Peninsula Ice
820 S Amphlett Blvd, San Mateo, CA
(650) 344-5667

A-One 76 Gas Station
376 Lewelling Blvd, San Lorenzo, CA
(510) 481-9260

San Lorenzo 76 Gas Station
376 Lewelling Blvd, San Lorenzo, CA
(510) 481-9260

Glacier Ice Company
43960 Fremont Blvd, Fremont, CA
(408) 923-3371

Ice Carver by the Wise Carver
45 Williams Ave # A, San Francisco, CA
(415) 671-1055

12876 Saratoga Sunnyvale Rd, Saratoga, CA
(408) 867-0180

San Francisco Ice Company
45 Williams Ave, San Francisco, CA
(415) 431-8818

Praxair Inc.  
1690 Evans Ave, San Francisco, CA
(415) 826-8627

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Airplane travel

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.

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Stanford Lactation Services, 3/08

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