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Defrosting Breastmilk

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Breast Milk

You've pumped and stored your breast milk in the freezer and now it's time to use it...but how? When you are ready to defrost your stored breast milk, you have some options on how to properly and safely accomplish this.

First, select the oldest milk to defrost. This will ensure that your milk will not expire. One method to defrost your milk is to thaw breast milk overnight in the refrigerator. If you need to defrost your milk in a hurry, place the sealed storage container in a bowl of warm water for 20 minutes to bring it to body temperature.

Placing the frozen container under running warm water is another effective and safe method for defrosting your milk. Microwaving breast milk is NOT recommended. This can cause sporadic “hot spots” throughout the milk and the high heat can damage the anti-infective properties of breast milk.

Once thawed, breast milk is safe in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Thawed breast milk

        Breastmilk Storage and Containers
Milk Storage

should never be refrozen. Remember, if using breast milk storage bags, the integrity of the bags may have been compromised during storage in the freezer. If you notice that the bag is leaking while you are defrosting the milk, your milk may be contaminated.

When warming breast milk for your baby, always feel the temperature of the milk before giving it to your child. Put a couple of drops of breast milk on the inner aspect of your wrist. Some babies prefer warm milk, while others prefer cool or room temperature milk. Once your baby has taken the milk from a bottle, discard any unused milk after 2 hours since bacteria from baby's mouth can begin to multiply. The perk of breast milk is that the anti-infective properties of breast milk kill bacteria from saliva, but since there have not been enough studies done at this time, it is best practice to discard the milk after 2 hours.

Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (2010) ABM Clinical Protocol #8: Human Milk Storage Information for Home Use for Full-Term Infants
Walker, M (2011). Breastfeeding Management for the Clinician (2 edition). Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.


 Safe Guidelines for Handling Breastmilk

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