As a new parent, there are so many things you need to think about. It can often be tricky to find the right answers that you can rely on. In this blog, we’re answering the question, can you refreeze breast milk?
This blog includes:
- Breastfeeding journey
- Can you refreeze breast milk?
- Why can’t you refreeze breast milk?
- What happens if you refreeze thawed breast milk?
- What does breast milk look like when it’s gone bad?
- Tips for storing breastmilk
- Why do some parents choose to store expressed milk?
- How long can breast milk be stored for?
Firstly, if you aren’t able to breastfeed or find it difficult, you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. You can still build a fantastic bond with your new baby. If you’re unsure, you can speak to a professional. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action.
In the first few days after giving birth, breastfeeding may be tricky. This is as you and your baby get to know each other and become more comfortable. Read our blog on: when does breastfeeding get easier?
Before giving birth, you can read about different breastfeeding techniques and positions. You may also want to attend some antenatal classes. These classes can help you to prepare for your new baby in many ways, such as breastfeeding and creating a birth plan.
What is colostrum?
Colostrum is the first type of milk your breasts produce after giving birth. This milk is thick, and your baby may not need much of it. This is partly because of how rich it is and how small your baby’s digestive system is. Most newborn babies drink breast milk little and often.
After a few days, your milk starts to mature, and the baby can start to have longer feeds. You’ll know when your baby is hungry as they will be restless and look around. You may also notice the baby’s mouth is open.
As your baby breastfeeds, this tells the body to create more breast milk. This allows the baby to continue feeding until they are ready to stop.
Breastfeeding your baby is generally recommended until the six-month mark. After this point, you can start weaning your baby and continue a small amount of breastfeeding if you want. Otherwise, you can stop breastfeeding when you are ready. You may have many questions regarding breastfeeding; find out: can you get pregnant while breastfeeding?
Can you refreeze breast milk?
No – you cannot refreeze breast milk. You should not refreeze the milk after it has already completely thawed out. You may be able to refreeze the breast milk if it has not been completely thawed out. This means the breast milk is not in liquid form and has ice crystals in it.
It’s best to give your baby fresh breast milk wherever you can. However, sometimes mums can make more breast milk than the baby is ready for. In this case, you might choose to use a breast pump and store the milk. You should always store breast milk properly for your baby’s safety. Milk that has been thawed out should be drunk as soon as possible.
You can only refreeze milk that is not fully defrosted if the baby has not drunk from it. If the baby has drunk from it, it is not suitable to refreeze. Milk that has not fully defrosted will have ice crystals left in it. If there are no ice crystals and the human milk is liquid – do not refreeze.
As we said, ideally, you wouldn’t freeze your breast milk, as freshly expressed breast milk is best. You’ll have 24 hours from complete thawing to use the defrosted breast milk.
Why can’t you refreeze breast milk?
As with many other food and drink items, bacteria can form more easily once they defrost. Breast milk is no different. There is also a risk that some of the best and most important nutrients will no longer be found in the frozen milk.
Freezing breast milk in the first instance is fine as long as it is drunk or disposed of without being rethawed.
You should also dispose of any thawed milk that your baby starts to drink from and doesn’t finish. After drinking, this thawed but frozen breast milk may contain bacteria and should no longer be used.
What happens if you refreeze thawed breast milk?
If you refreeze thawed breastmilk, it will no longer be safe for your baby. The stored breast milk may have bacteria in it. Do not give this previously frozen milk to your baby.
What does breast milk look like when it’s gone bad?
You can probably imagine what breast milk looks like when it’s gone bad. You might notice the following:
- A bad smell
- Poor taste
- Discolouration in areas
Do not give your baby any of this breast milk, as it may cause them to be poorly. Always seek advice if you think your baby is unwell.
If you are even slightly concerned about the previously frozen breast milk, you should dispose of it. It’s much better to be on the safe side.
Tips for storing breastmilk
- Use a quality storage container – plastic bags (breast milk storage bags), plastic bottles or glass bottles.
- Ensure that all containers are labelled correctly with what they are and the dates they were frozen.
- You might want to add labels when you thaw the breast milk, too, so you know when to use it by.
- Don’t freeze too much milk in one container, as breast milk expands once frozen.
- Freeze portion sizes in line with your baby’s feeding – this can help to reduce waste.
- Ensure there are no bubbles in the breast milk, as these can cause problems.
You can always ask your health visitor about storing breast milk. They will also monitor your baby’s weight.
Why do some parents choose to store expressed milk?
Some parents choose to store breast milk for different reasons. One common reason is due to a drop in milk supply. These new mums might choose to freeze their breast milk, so they have enough if the milk supply drops.
Another reason could be due to starting medication. If you are starting a new medication, your doctor will let you know if it’s safe to breastfeed. It might be a good idea to store milk if you are starting a new medication. This means that your baby can still have some of the benefits of breastfeeding.
How long can breast milk be stored for?
Breast milk can be stored for varying amounts of time, depending on the location and temperature. You should always check the breast milk to ensure it is safe. If you believe the milk is unsafe for your baby, do not give it to them. Start again with fresh milk if you can.
- Breastmilk can be frozen for up to 12 months – follow all guidance and do not refreeze once thawed.
- Breast milk in the refrigerator will last for up to 4 days.
- Breast milk can be at room temperature for up to 4 hours.
You should always check the smell and taste of the milk before giving it to your baby. This will help to ensure that it is safe for their consumption. Follow all storage guidelines when storing milk.
So, can you refreeze thawed breast milk?
No, if milk is completely thawed, you should not refreeze it. If milk is partially thawed (not liquid and has ice crystals remaining), you may be able to refreeze it. Do not refreeze the milk that the baby has started to drink.
You must follow all guidance regarding freezing milk; this will help to keep your baby well. Try to give your baby freshly expressed milk where you can.
Good luck with the rest of your breastfeeding journey!
Hey there, I’m Abigail!
I recently graduated with a degree in Marketing. I’m currently a freelance blogger and Marketing Assistant. I love learning new things and hope that you find my blogs useful and informative.
See you in the next article!