Can You Refreeze Breast Milk? Freeze, Store, and Thaw Breast Milk

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Breastmilk in milk storage bag and heart toy on pink weave rattan basket with white wooden background.

Proper storage and preparation of breast milk is an important part of maintaining a healthy diet for infants and young children. Breast milk is the ideal food for babies, providing a perfect balance of nutrients, antibodies, and other essential components for healthy growth and development. Parents and caregivers need to understand the best practices for preparing and storing breast milk for feeding. This article will provide information on breast milk’s proper storage and preparation and tips for ensuring its safety and freshness.

Safe Storage of Freshly Expressed Breast Milk

The ability to express and store breast milk is an amazing gift that allows you to feed your baby the best nutrition. With proper storage techniques, you can ensure that your expressed breast milk is safe and nutritious for your baby. We will discuss and provide useful tips on how to store it properly.

What should be Done Before Expressing

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before expressing or handling breast milk. Gather the necessary supplies: A hand pump or electric breast pump, storage containers, caps, and labels. Choose a comfortable, private space to relax and focus on the task. Prepare the pump and containers according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Storing Breast Milk After Expressing

To store expressed breast milk, use containers or bags that are specifically designed for this purpose. Ensure the materials used to make the containers are either glass or plastic and have lids that fit securely. Do not use bottles with the number 7 recycle symbol, as these may contain BPA. Also, never put breast milk in disposable bottle liners or plastic bags that were not meant to store it.

It is possible to store freshly expressed or pumped milk at room temperature (77°F or colder) for up to four hours, in the refrigerator for up to four days, and the freezer for up to six months.

Storage Tips for Human Milk

Date and label it with the date it was expressed. Be sure not to store breast milk on the door of your fridge or freezer so the breast milk is better shielded from temperature changes caused by the door opening and closing. You should freeze freshly expressed milk within four days to keep it as fresh as possible. However, do not refreeze breast milk once it is thawed.

To avoid wasting milk that might not be consumed, store fresh milk in 2 to 4 ounces or the amount of milk given per feeding. Be sure to leave an inch of air space on the top of the container because breast milk expands when frozen.

Stored Breast milk should be clearly labeled with the child’s name when delivered to a childcare provider. Discuss any other labeling and storage requirements with your childcare source. Breast milk can be stored for up to 24 hours in an insulated cooler with ice packs when traveling. To keep the good milk at your destination, use it as soon as possible, refrigerate it, or freeze it.

How to Safely Thaw Frozen Breast Milk

Make sure you thaw the oldest breast milk first, as first in, first out applies. Breast milk quality can deteriorate over time.

Breast milk can be thawed in three ways;

  • overnight in the refrigerator
  • Place in a warm or lukewarm container
  • Put it under running lukewarm water

Breast milk should never be thawed or heated in the microwave. Microwaving destroys nutrients and can create hot spots, which can burn a baby’s mouth.

Thawed Breast milk needs to be used up within 24 hours. Counting begins when the breast milk is completely thawed, not when you remove it from the freezer. Breast milk can last for two hours outside of refrigeration after it has come to room temperature. And do not re-freeze Thawed human milk.

Feeding Expressed Breast Milk

Warming breast milk is not required. It can also be served cold. Here are some tips to consider if you decide to warm breast milk:

  • Don’t open the container. Carefully place the sealed container sealed in warm water or hot water for a few minutes. Before feeding milk to your baby, make sure it has the appropriate temperature by putting a few drops on your wrist. Breast milk shouldn’t be heated on the stove or in the microwave.
  • Mix the separated fat in the breast milk by swirling if your baby didn’t finish the bottle, use the leftover milk within 2 hours. Leftover breast milk should be disposed of after 2 hours.
  • Safe Cleaning of Infant Feeding Items and Pumping Equipment
  • Always clean, sanitize, and carefully store your pump equipment, baby bottles, and other feeding items to prevent contamination.

What are the Signs That Stored Breast Milk Has Gone Bad

There are a few ways to know when your breast milk has gone bad;

  • Peculiar taste
  • Pungent odor
  • Spots in the milk are either discolored or torn up

A smell and taste test can determine if your breast milk has gone bad. Breast milk tastes and smells different from cow’s milk. It should be thrown away if it tastes or smells like out-of-date cow’s milk.

If you notice dark, grey, or black spots, your breast milk must be thrown away. These spots are mold growing in your breast milk. The milk should be thrown away if there are any other spots or discolorations you aren’t sure about.

FAQs on Storing, Freezing, and Thawing Breast Milk

Is It True That Breast Milk Has All Sorts of Benefits For My Baby?

Yes, breast milk has many benefits for babies. It is known to strengthen the immune system and have a high nutritional value. It provides essential vitamins and minerals for healthy growth and development. Breast milk also contains hormones that may help protect against certain illnesses and allergies and beneficial bacteria that can help your baby fight off infection.

What Are Some Uses For Spoiled Breast Milk?

1. Use it as a natural fertilizer for plants and lawns.

2. Mix with water and use it as a skin cleanser for babies and adults.

3. Use it to treat diaper rash or other skin irritations in babies or adults.

4. Make ice cubes to soothe teething babies’ gums or scrape off the frozen milk and use it as a topical ointment on their gums to help relieve pain from teething symptoms such as soreness, redness, inflammation, and swelling.

5. Make breast milk soap using the fat content in spoiled breast milk.

Why Does My Milk Smell Or Taste Soapy?

There are a few potential reasons your milk may smell or taste soapy. It could be due to bacterial contamination, improper storage, or the presence of certain detergents in the environment. If you notice the rancid smell and think that the milk has been exposed to bacteria, it is best to discard it. If you suspect the soapy taste is coming from the detergent residue, use an alternate container to store your milk or rinse it with hot water before using it again.

Why is My Milk Separating?

Storage of human milk produces a milk layer and a cream layer naturally. Shaking or swirling the milk before feeding is safe.

Is It Safe To Refreeze My Milk After Thawing?

Previously frozen breast milk that is now thawed can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours (Lawrence & Lawrence, 2010). Currently, there is not enough research on refreezing breastmilk. There may be harmful changes in its nutritional and bacterial status. At this time, the accepted practice is not to refreeze breast milk after it is thawed.

Can I reuse previously fed milk if my baby does not finish?

If the baby doesn’t consume the entire bottle during a feed, the recommendation is to discard the remaining milk within 1-2 hours and not reuse it (ABM, 2017). Moms often store milk in smaller quantities to reduce waste.

Is It Safe To Store My Milk In A Shared Refrigerator?

Expressed milk can be stored in a common refrigerator in a daycare center or workplace. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, storing human milk does not require special handling or storage (CDC, 2015).

I Have Thrush Is My Milk Safe?

If you or your baby has a yeast or fungal infection, continue to breastfeed during the treatment period, and when being treated, you can also continue to express and feed your milk to the baby. If you take any medication, like antibiotics or chemotherapy, you must label any milk in the fridge while you’re nursing. Thawing or refreezing the milk won’t kill the yeast cells.

The safest and most conservative action is to discard pump milk during thrush treatment. Some research suggests that frozen milk pumped during treatment for thrush should not pose any risk to healthy babies when boiled before use.

Is Frozen Breast Milk Worse Than Fresh Milk?

Fresh breastmilk has the highest quantity of active anti-infective properties, followed by refrigerated breastmilk and frozen breastmilk.

Can I Refreeze Breast Milk After Defrosting?

Start counting for 24-hour periods after the breast milk is completely thawed. Once breast milk has been cooled to 0 degrees C and is heated, leave the milk for about 1 hour. Never refrigerate breastmilk once the liquid has cooled.

Can You Freeze Milk Twice?

The best choice for people in small households is to freeze and defrost milk once. Pour more milk, and keep it cold.