Our Complete Guide on How to Ship Breast Milk

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How to Ship Frozen Breast Milk

Learn how to ship frozen breast milk

Can you ship breast milk? Yes! Whether you are a new mother who is breastfeeding or you are a lactating surrogate who is preparing to ship breast milk to intended parents, you may be wondering how to ship breast milk. Working moms traveling for business may also find it beneficial to ship their milk home. No matter your reasons for wanting to ship breast milk, our team can help. We put together a comprehensive guide on how to mail breast milk effectively and safely, including some important do’s and don’ts on mailing breast milk.

Steps to Shipping Breast Milk

  1. First, select an insulated shipping container. You can search on platforms like Amazon for a container that is leakproof and structurally sound for transport.
  2. Collect your breast milk. First, label durable, BPA-free bags, bottles, or pouches with the date. Then, use a breast pump to fill them with milk, remove the excess air, and seal them. Be prepared to freeze them as soon as you finish this step.
    Pro Tip: As you’re filling your bags/bottles/pouches, leave some room in them; the milk will expand when frozen. Otherwise, they will burst.
  3. Once the milk is frozen, pack the breast milk in your insulated box as tightly as possible. The milk should go into the box first, then the other items to cool and insulate it. Shipping a smaller amount of milk? You can nestle it between layers of ice packs.
    Pro Tip: If the milk doesn’t fill the box, you’ll want to strategically load up the rest of the box. Add in packing material such as newspaper and then put the frozen gel packs or ice packs on top, cover it with a plastic bag, and then seal it in the box. Want even more peace of mind? Include a temperature monitoring device within your shipment, which can ensure the milk maintains a safe temperature.
  4. Finish packaging the shipment by taping it up with duct tape and labeling it. Label requirements may differ across courier services, so inquire about additional information if needed.

There are additional methods for packing up your breast milk. For instance, you can use thick-walled Styrofoam coolers and cardboard boxes. Simply store your breast milk storage bags in the cooler and place them in the cardboard box or shipping box. Make sure to choose a cooler that is not too large but is large enough for the ice packs, insulation material, and breast milk.

Watch our How To Pump, Ship and Donate Breast Milk Surrogacy Tutorial with Lactation Expert and HMBANA Board Member Lenna Gregory

Do’s and Don’ts of Shipping Breast Milk


  • Use an insulated box. It needs to be sturdy, as well as able to withstand freezing and thawing.
  • Pack tightly. You want to preserve the milk and prevent it from moving too much in transit.
  • Label the package properly. As you’re writing your labels, indicate that the shipment includes frozen breast milk that is perishable. Breast milk is considered “liquid gold“ and must be treated as such!
  • Ship overnight, as you want the breast milk to stay frozen in transit. DHL, FedEx, UPS, and USPS offer milk shipping services, so you can rest assured your shipment will maintain its temperature and be delivered quickly. You can also check out specialized organizations like Milk Stork that take care of shipping for you.
  • Consider timing when shipping your breast milk. You will want to avoid shipping later in the week; weekend deliveries generally cost more, and on Sundays, there is no delivery service. Earlier in the week, such as on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, you are less likely to face delays.
  • Update the recipient on shipping details. By providing the recipient with relevant tracking information, you can prepare them to accept your shipment and store the milk right away.


  • Freeze breast milk without removing air first. This can result in freezer burn.
  • Use dry ice. It doesn’t melt, but rather, goes through sublimation. In other words, the dry ice changes from a solid to a gas. Because of this, pressure could build up in your package, and it could even explode in transit.
  • Ship 2-day. Do not use 2-day services or ground service to ship milk. It will thaw. Because breast milk is perishable, it must be transported swiftly in a temperature-controlled environment. Make sure milk is being shipped by an overnight service that is guaranteed.
  • Pack loosely. The contents of your package need to be snug. Bubble wrap, crumbled newspaper, and foam peanuts can be used for padding. If you need an alternative, you can purchase shipping kits from companies like Save the Milk.
  • Pack and ship breast milk without researching local laws in your location and the recipient’s location. This is extremely important if you plan to ship breast milk internationally. Though it’s legal (and relatively straightforward) to ship breast milk within the United States, you may have to abide by additional requirements based on that specific country’s regulations.
    On a similar note, if you’re donating breast milk to a milk bank or hospital (especially the NICU), you will likely need to follow specific instructions from them as well.

Handling Breast Milk Upon Delivery

As long as milk is over 50% frozen when it arrives, it can be put into the freezer and be safe to feed to babies. Families receiving the milk should open the package and inspect the milk to make sure everything is frozen and in good condition. Then, they should freeze it immediately and use it within 6 months (if stored in the refrigerator freezer) or 12 months (if stored in the deep freezer).

Of course, breast milk shipping experiences between women will be different. For example, service providers’ pricing—and how they determine shipping costs based on distance to the destination, package weight, and other factors—will vary. But, with careful planning, shipping frozen breast milk can be a smooth and rewarding experience. Looking for more guidance? If you’re interested in learning more about pumping, we offer tips for pumping on the go.

Click Here for More Pumping Tips for Surrogates & Busy Moms