8 Tips on How to Thaw Breast Milk
Being a working mom is not something easy nowadays. In fact, your mission becomes more tough and challenging.
And in the case of breastfeeding, working moms choose to combine direct breastfeeding and breast pumping. So, you tend to pump and feed your baby from a bottle.
Consequently, you are going to freeze some of the pumped milk for later consumption.
Now, your baby is hungry and you are going to defrost some of the frozen milk.
Our friends from Breastfeedo provide us some Q & A about the breast milk thawing process.
And if you want some additional support and a chance to get ready for pumping before you go back to work, check out this fantastic pumping class!
If you’re thinking about traveling, read my post about flying with frozen breastmilk.
Why is microwave not suitable to thaw (unfreeze) your breast milk?
- Generally, the microwave is not suitable for all types of liquids.
- Plus, using the microwave in thawing the breast milk could scald your baby or damage the vital components of the breast milk.
- Not only that but the breast milk bottle may explode due to the high pressure of heating.
Can I apply direct heat to thaw frozen breast milk?
You can’t use direct heat in thawing breast milk. It has the same effect as the microwave in destroying breast milk components.
How can I thaw breast milk properly?
- In the refrigerator: leave the milk to thaw for 8-12 hours. After that, you have 24 hours to consume all the defrosted milk.
- Under tap water
- Faster way: use a hot water bath or a bottle warmer
Discard any residual after the 24 hour period.
(Remember, don’t try to refreeze again, or add any unused portions to frozen milk)
Is it normal for breast milk to be divided into two layers after thawing?
Yes, it is normal for breast milk to divide into two layers.
Note that breast milk is a mixture of the fatty and watery layer. Upon freezing, the layers detach from each other.
Be sure to never shake breast milk to mix the two layers, as some components would be broken down.
Instead, gently swirl using a spoon, that is more than enough to mix the layers.
(By the way, your breast milk is not homogenous like cow milk.)
After thawing my breast milk, it has a rancid or abnormal taste. What should I do?
Don’t worry. Breast milk contains the Lipase enzyme which is responsible for that change.
If your baby does not like the taste, try to scald the milk before freezing to mask the action of lipase.
(Note: don’t scald when thawing.)
How to make the breast milk thawing process easy, smooth, and quick?
Simply follow the next two tips before freezing:
- Avoid filling the bag or bottle to the very top.
Always, leave 2 oz space between the surface and the top, as the frozen milk expands.
- Use a tray to get the breast milk in small cubes. The smaller the size, the lesser the effort/time to thaw.
Even if you are using a bag, fill only a few ounces per each bag.
Can I leave thawed breast milk in room temperature?
The maximum time thawed breast milk can be left at room temperature is 3-4 hours, but it is better for only 1-2 hours.
Discard any remaining amount after this time.
Is It better to refrigerate or to freeze the breast milk?
It is better to refrigerate to avoid losing some of the golden components in the breast milk. However, this decision is based on when you plan to use the breast milk.
If you tend to store only for a few days (4-8 days) before consuming, it is better to refrigerate.
But if you want to store for months (up to 6 months), you can use the freezer attached to the refrigerator.
Also, breast milk can stand for up to one year in a separate deep freezer.
Check out this infographic that summarizes the tips above.
Ahmed Fawzi has a Pharmacy BSC from Alexandria University, Egypt (2004). Then, in 2016, he started the digital marketing journey with digital marketing institute of Dublin, Ireland. He and his partner Amr decided to launch Breastfeedo to provide visual and evidence-based breastfeeding advice to all moms in our busy, crazy world.