Can You Freeze Breast Milk?

I am two months pregnant. My husband and I are excited! This is our first child. We have been reading a lot about do’s and don’ts during pregnancy. We are also starting to read up on what we should do after giving birth. I am considering breastfeeding because it is healthier and economical. But I am working, too. After maternity leave, can I continue breastfeeding? How do I store breastmilk? Can I freeze it? How about if I have no access to freezer while at work or outside? 

Breast milk is precious and priceless. Your milk nourishes and connects you to your baby. Breastfeeding is not an easy thing to do. It can get painful at times. But as moms would attest, it is worth it.

It is important to extract and store breast milk properly so that the fruits of your labor would not go to waste. The good news for lactating moms is that freezing is a good way to preserve breast milk.

Can You Freeze Breast Milk 

Breast milk provides the essential nutrients that newborn and growing babies need. To reap the maximum benefits, you can do exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months. After this period, you can start to introduce food and drink while breastfeeding. You can continue up to 24 months and even beyond.

While breast milk is better when fresh, there will come a time during the 2-year breastfeeding period, and even during just the first months, when you have to extract using a pump and freeze the milk. Freezing breast milk preserves most of its nutrients. While some nutrients get lost, frozen breast milk is still nutritionally better than the alternative, formula milk.

The color of the breast milk might change when frozen. This is normal. The aroma can also change, and this is normal, too. This can be due to enzymes present in the milk, and can be solved by scalding the breast milk before cooling and freezing. This can also be because of what the mom eats and drinks, and can be solved by dietary changes.

You can store breastmilk in sealed containers in the freezer for up to 12 months. You can feed the defrosted milk to your baby using a bottle or spoon.

Just remember to follow proper defrosting as this can make or break breast milk. Follow the “first in, first out” rule. Thaw the oldest container in the refrigerator overnight. You can also soak the container in warm bath or run it under warm running water to defrost it. Just ensure that there are no holes in the container. Do not use boiling or hot water, just lukewarm. Do not microwave it. Do not heat it on the stove. Defrosted milk must be consumed within an hour. It cannot be refrozen.

If you have no access to a freezer, you can keep freshly-expressed breastmilk at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours, in an insulated cooler for up to 24 hours, or in the back of a refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

How to Freeze Breastmilk

Follow the steps and tips below for freezing breastmilk.

  • Choose pump well based on your needs and preferences.
  • Choose containers based on your needs, preferences, and storage capacity. You can use small bottles with tight lids, covered ice cube trays, or breastmilk bags. Do not use ordinary freezer bags.
  • Clean and sterilize washable parts of pump and containers. Dry thoroughly.
  • Extract and pour breast milk in sterilized containers.
    • It is best to store in small quantities to avoid wastage.
    • You can store 2 to 4 ounces per container.
    • If you find yourself lacking in container, you can pour freshly-extracted breast milk into frozen milk as long as the fresh breast milk has cooled already, and the quantity is not double the frozen.
  • Seal well and label properly with the date and time extracted and frozen.
  • Clean and sterilize pump parts and containers after every use. Air dry them before storing.

Breastfeeding Tips

To get you started and pumped up, you can read resource articles and watch video testimonials of other moms who’ve been there and done that.

You can also check out solutions to common breast milk issues such as scalding breast milk to kill excess lipase, the enzyme that makes breast milk smell weird.

 

Lack of breast milk and dwindling amount of breast milk are common breastfeeding issues. Check out tips on how to increase milk production.

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