Have you ever noticed these white spots floating on top of your frozen breast milk and, for two seconds, got a mini heart attack thinking that your golden liquid has gone bad and it’s just such a waste? Before you freak out and dump your precious stash of breast milk, you might want to do a smell and taste test.
Breast milk naturally separates after pumping, with the fat rising to the top and the water falling to the bottom. When milk is still good, it easily mixes with a gentle swirl of the baby bottle.
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Tips To Properly Store Breast Milk
Breast milk is great, it has all these nutrients and vitamins, not to mention the antibodies it could give your baby, and it’s free!
All the best things, mom’s body could produce that, just amazing. Freshly pumped milk is easy, but freezing it would be a totally different story.
Here are guidelines to know that you are storing your breast milk right:
- Storage bags – Use breast milk storage bags or clean food-grade containers with tight-fitting lids made of glass or plastic to store expressed breast milk. If you are using plastic-made bags, make sure that they are BPA-free. Never store breast milk in disposable bottle liners or plastic bags that are not intended for storing breast milk.
- Storage duration – Freshly expressed or pumped milk can be stored at room temperature (77°F or colder) for up to 4 hours, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, and in the freezer for about 6 months at best; up to 12 months is acceptable. Although freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely, recommended storage times are important to follow for best quality.
- Storage details – Be sure to label the breast milk with the date it was expressed. Do not store breast milk in the door of the refrigerator or freezer. This will help protect the breast milk from temperature changes from the door opening and closing. Freeze breast milk in small amounts of 2 to 4 ounces (or the amount that will be offered at one feeding); make sure that you follow the proper storage guidelines to avoid wasting breast milk that might not be finished.
Common Concerns With Frozen Breast Milk
Now that we’re sure you know how to store your liquid gold the right way, it’s important to keep in mind that all breast milk is different from each other. Your food intake, stress level, and medication might affect your milk quality and supply. It’s best to consult your doctor if you are unsure what to eat and what to avoid while breastfeeding.
Here are some common concerns that you might want to look out for after storing your milk in the freezer:
- White spots – These spots are usually “floating” at the top portion of your frozen breast milk, and it doesn’t form in a few days. It would be visible after a week (or few weeks) from the day milk was expressed. This is completely normal; if your milk still smells and tastes fine, then the white spots are most likely fat, which separates from water while in the freezer. After thawing the milk, it should easily mix well using your baby’s feeding bottle.
- Soapy smell – Your baby refuses to drink your milk after thawing it because it smells soapy. So has your milk gone bad? The answer is no; it’s most probably because your milk contains a high level of lipase. “Lipase is an enzyme found in human milk that acts as an emulsifier for milk fat and breaks it down, so fat-soluble nutrients are available for baby.” Some women produce more lipase than others, meaning the milk fat breaks down quicker, altering the smell and taste of the milk. This milk is still perfectly healthy and safe for babies to consume; however, some babies just don’t like the taste.
- Thawing frozen milk – Use the oldest milk first. Practice first in, first out. To thaw frozen milk, hold the frozen bottle or bag under lukewarm running water. You can also thaw it in the refrigerator or in a bowl of warm water. Swirl the milk gently to mix. The fatty part of the milk (white spots) may have separated. Do NOT microwave your milk. Microwaving breaks down nutrients and creates hot spots, which can burn your baby’s mouth.
What is the recommended method to store and serve breast milk that is left over from feeding?
If your baby did not finish the bottle, the leftover breast milk can still be used within 2 hours after the baby is finished feeding. After 2 hours, leftover breast milk should be thrown away. To avoid wasting unfed milk, consider storing, thawing, and warming milk in smaller amounts.
Does the temperature of the room matter if I plan to leave breast milk on the counter until I use it?
Yes. If you live in a warmer climate or keep your home at a warmer temperature, you should place breast milk in the refrigerator if it will not be used within a few hours. Breast milk does not spoil as quickly at cooler temperatures. Freshly expressed milk would last for 4 hours at most with room temperate of 77°F (25°C) or colder.
If I don’t use breast milk stored in the refrigerator within a few days, can I still freeze it to use later?
After 4 days of refrigeration, your breast milk should be used or thrown away. Breast milk has properties that slow the growth of bad bacteria. These properties begin to decline after a few days of refrigeration. If you think you won’t use breast milk within a few days, the sooner you freeze it, the better.
I know it’s confusing; all these precise details to make sure that you feed your little one with the best possible milk for them, you’re probably exhausted too.
Little to no sleep, attending to your baby’s every need, sore breasts, adjusting to your new “mom brain.” I get it, we get it, hang in there super mom, the white spots in your frozen milk are just fat spots; all your pumped milk will not go to waste.
Feel free to share with us your personal experiences with frozen breast milk, what worked and what helped you make it work in the comment section down below. Stay happy and healthy!