A research article from 2006 on breast milk storage including thawing & refreezing, shows if the milk is thawed under certain circumstances it CAN be refrozen. Just wanted to share this with any moms experiencing power outages and worrying about losing their freezer stash.
When you refrigerate your breast milk or freeze it and then let it thaw back out, you'll notice a white residue that often sticks to the sides of your bottles or milk storage bag. That's the fat in your breast milk, it's perfectly normal for breast milk to separate when cooled.
When you give the bottle to your baby, be sure to gently swirl the bottle around to mix the important fat back into the milk. Do not vigorously shake the milk to mix it together as some research says this breaks down some of the milk proteins.
Most spouses aren't going to understand completely what you're going through when you're balancing taking care of baby and pumping. That's why it's important to talk about the importance of breast milk with your spouse and why you want to pump breast milk. Showing your spouse why this is so important to you will help them understand and provide support for your decision.
Talk about why you're pumping. This is also very helpful, when a mom decides to exclusively pump because you will run into questions and comments from others like... Are you breastfeeding? Breastfeeding is so much easier, Pumping is SO much more work etc, why don't you just use formula? Decide how you want to respond to these questions in advance, remember its up to you to decide what you want to reveal. Some moms simply answer "my baby gets breast milk" while others choose to provide in-depth explanations of why they chose to pump and the importance of breast milk. It's important to let your spouse know your feelings and responses to this question in case they encounter them and so they can show support when they're with you and you're asked questions.
Tell your spouse how he can be helpful and make pumping easier for you - taking night time feedings, washing pump parts, etc. Many spouses want to be supportive or helpful but don't know how.
The most important part is to communicate! With a new baby, less sleep, and plenty of changes happening in your house this is no time to assume your spouse has mind-reading capabilities.
Yes, if you give your baby a bottle of breast milk and they don't finish the bottle, you may leave the bottle out and offer it again within 2 hours. Some may argue this is just a rule for formula and not breast milk, we recommend throwing the bottle out after 2 hours because bacteria from saliva can for in the nipple of the bottle.
If the bottle has been heated or warmed, you need to use the bottle or toss the unused amount after 2 hours. Do NOT put the bottle back in the refrigerator.
Determining whether breast milk has gone bad or not is actually not much different that checking your regular milk. Breast milk is typically a slightly sweet tasting milk (depending on what you previously ate it can change a little).
If you open a bottle or thaw a bag of milk and it smells like its gone bad or tastes sour then it likely has gone bad and should be thrown out. Many times a baby will reject milk if it does taste like their regular milk (not all babies will reject bad milk).
If you are finding that a lot of your breast milk seems to be bad, you might have extra lipase in your breast milk. This causes the milk to break down faster than the average milk, hence it goes bad faster. Don't worry you can still pump and give your baby breast milk, but you should scald your milk before freezing it and pay extra close attention to the breast milk storage guidelines.
No breast pumping Mom ever wants to throw out their "liquid gold," which begs the question... How Long Can Breast Milk Sit Out? A lot of the answer depends on what happened to the breast milk prior to sitting out.
Freshly pumped breast milk will usually last about 6-8 hours at room temperature. This is assuming you don't have lipase issues which break down your milk faster than normal.
Freshly pumped breast milk stored in a cooler with an ice pack is good for about 12 hours before it needs to be refrigerated or giving to your baby. This is a very loose estimate since cooler and ice pack temps can vary greatly, but it gives you a good idea for instances like pumping at work where you do not have a refrigerator on hand.
Breast milk that has been frozen and then thawed has a MUCH shorter lifespan since some of the breast milk is broken down in the freezing process. It is best to defrost your breast milk slowly in the refrigerator, which takes about 12 hours. Once the breast milk is completely thawed it should be used within 24 hours.
Thawed breast milk has a lifespan of about 2 hours at room temperature, after 2 hours it should be discarded.
Once heated (in a glass of warm water or a bottle warmer, never in the microwave) breast milk should be given within the two hour time frame or be discarded as well. Regardless if previously refrigerated or thawed.
Once a bottle has been partially used, it is best to only offer the same bottle within the original two hour time frame that the breast milk was heated or served. Much controversy exists here between LCs, Moms, Experts, etc. because little research exists at the moment. To avoid bacteria risks we choose to recommend staying within the two hour time frame.
All this being said, it's still best if you plan to freeze the milk to do so within 24 hours and if you're not planning on using fresh milk to refrigerate it as soon as possible.
There is little research on expressed milk and thawing/use, so please remember these are just guidelines. You milk should not taste sour, most of the time it has a sweeter taste/smell to it. Although, some mothers have reported a soapy smell/taste once thawed, which is thought to be safe as long as baby will drink it. Also, please note these these guidelines are for full-term healthy babies.
In theory I guess it's possible for men to pump breast milk. This topic seems to reappear every few years, yet it always intrigues me. The article goes on to say with nipple stimulation and/or the help of drugs many pumping moms with supply issues take like Reglan or domperidone it may be possible for males to produce milk.
My next question is... whose husband wants to start pumping? Many pumping moms praise their husbands for being helpful and supportive - my own husband included. However, I'm pretty sure even mentioning that males might be able to pump milk, he'd drop the freshly washed pumping parts and run for the hills!
click to read full Man Milk Article
This really depends on your pumping plan but here's a few tips & suggestions...
~ Keep a day's worth of milk in the fridge and maybe an extra bottle for safety and you can freeze the rest if you're working on building up a "stash of liquid gold"
~ Milk is good for up to 3 months in a regular freezer or even longer in a deep freezer.
~ Remember thawed milk should be drank in about 24 hours.
~ I always took enough milk for the next day out of the freezer the evening before and put it in the fridge. Then in the morning the milk was almost completely defrosted so I made up our bottles for the day at one time.
~ If you're planning on quitting pumping and just going to frozen milk plan for about 1,000 ounces a month to be consumed. This gives you 25-30 oz a day for your baby, plus a little extra for growth spurts, wasted bottles, and mixing into food.
~ If you're freezing most of your milk remember to start rotating your stash by using at least some of the milk in the freezer so it doesn't go bad.
We all know that breast milk is the best thing you can give your baby. And unfortunately for many different reasons some moms are not able to breastfeed or pump breast milk for their babies.
I've been reading a lot in the press and online lately about the rise in mothers donating breast milk to other mothers in need that cannot produce their own breast milk. I see the benefits for both - the donor is doing something wonderful to help another baby and the baby is getting breast milk when they otherwise could not from their own mother.
Where I start to hesitate is when mother's aren't considering the risks - or chose to ignore them just to get breast milk, especially as more exchange groups form on line or in social networks like facebook. When you accept breast milk from another mother it's important to be informed & ask questions ....
- When was the milk pumped or how old is it?
- Was it properly stored?
- Did it sit out before being frozen?
- Was it in the fridge for a few days and then frozen?
- Has the donor had any alcohol?
- Is the donor on any medications?
- Does the donor have an infection?
- What about their sexual history?
I could go on, but you get the idea. Nothing in the above questions suggests the donor is intentionally compromising the breast milk - but hey mistakes and accidents happen. It's important to be informed.
If you're looking to donate your breast milk or are looking for breast milk for your baby - look for milk banks in your area. The breast milk and donors are processed and screened thoroughly, providing an additional level of protection as you feed your baby. The world of breast milk donation is ever growing around the world in several countries - especially thanks to all those exclusive pumpers & overproducers! For more information on milk banks, donating, or the process visit one of these great sites...
National Milk Bank - www.milkbank.org
Human Milk Banking Association of North America - http://www.hmbana.org/
Helping Hands Milk Bank - http://www.helpinghandsbank.com/
Stress is a huge factor in your breast milk supply & one very stressful item for pumping moms is heading back to work. If you have a supportive employer pumping life can be so much easier. I've read several articles, mom boards and polls... here are a few companies that have been Moms are saying as having the best accommodations for working and pumping mothers...
Exclusively Pumping Blog
for those who choose to pump exclusively or pump because they can't breastfeed...this blog is for you!