Can You Refreeze Breast Milk?
Milking mommies work hard to make sure their babies get the best nutrition. That’s why we go through the tedious, tiring, and time consuming process of expressing milk in the first place!
So when our babies don’t finish up a bottle of breast milk in one sitting, it can feel like a monumental waste to toss out what’s left. With that in mind, many mommies have started to wonder – can you refreeze breast milk?
Fortunately, throwing that half bottle of milk down the drain isn’t necessary as long as you follow the right practices. But the freezer may not be the best place to keep it once it’s partly consumed.
This is what makes it very tricky for mums to figure out just how to make sure their milk is kept fresh and safe for their baby’s nutrition. So, if you’re one of the many wondering whether you can refreeze breast milk, this comprehensive guide should tell you everything you need to know.
The Problem With Refreezing Breast Milk
It’s possible that some mommies don’t see refreezing breast milk as a problem. After all, what could go wrong when you pop a half-consumed bottle back into the freezer?
The issue is this: breast milk that’s expressed straight from a mommy isn’t like any other store-bought milk. It doesn’t contain preservatives, it isn’t processed, and it contains zero artificial ingredients that prevent bacteria and other contaminants from developing in it when it’s exposed to the elements.
For that reason, it’s absolutely important for mommies to freeze or at least chill breast milk right after it’s expressed. This ensures that the milk will be safe for consumption, and that it retains all the compounds that make it healthy and nutritious for your baby.
What Happens When You Thaw Breast Milk?
Breast milk – when expressed fresh from your breasts into a closed container – has antimicrobial properties that keep it free from bacteria. With this, your breast milk can naturally prevent contaminants from developing so your baby can feed safely.
Freezing breast milk further ensures that bacteria won’t contaminate it. Plus, bringing it down to a low temperature guarantees that the chemical structure of the milk itself isn’t broken down so you can be sure that it’s just as nutritious as it would have been had you directly breast fed your baby.
So what happens when you thaw it out? According to research, breast milk is pretty resilient against bacteria, but once it’s brought down from the freezer to thaw, it has to be used after a certain time frame and that is why you cannot refreeze breast milk.
As a general rule, thawed breast milk should be consumed immediately after it’s warmed. However, there are much more specific temperatures and usage guidelines to follow depending on the situation.
How Should You Use and Store Thawed Breast Milk?
Depending on how your breast milk has been warmed, thawed, or chilled, there are specific guidelines you should follow to guarantee its freshness and safety.
- Breast milk that’s taken from the freezer and placed in the refrigerator for partial thawing can be kept in the fridge for up to a day.
- A bottle of breast milk that has been completely thawed and warmed can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 hours.
- Breast milk that has been thawed, warmed, and partially consumed can be kept at room temperature until the next feeding, but should otherwise be discarded.
So, the question remains – when can you refreeze breast milk?
The answer is that you simply shouldn’t if you volitionally thaw and warm it. There are certain, specific cases however when you might be able to refreeze your milk, and these are:
- If breast milk has been accidentally partially thawed during a power outage.
- If breast milk has been brought down from the freezer and placed into the fridge, partially thawing the liquid.
- If breast milk was frozen in an office freezer, and then partially thawed on the way home.
The above situations are all possible scenarios when you might be able to refreeze milk, given that the breast milk has only been partially thawed – such that there are still chunks of frozen milk in the container.
Can I Refreeze Breast Milk After Adding Milk to It?
Another issue that mommies have is the physical space that stored breast milk can eat up in a freezer or fridge. Because it’s ideal to store as much breast milk as possible for when you’re away, it can be a bit of a challenge to fit a hefty supply in such a limited space.
That said, making sure that every bottle is filled to the brim will guarantee that the space you have in your freezer is maximized. But because there’s no assurance that you will be able to completely fill up every bottle during pumping, there may be some containers that will only be partially full.
With that in mind, it becomes obvious to ask – can you add new milk to previously frozen milk?
The short answer is yes, you can refreeze milk after adding new milk to it. However, there are specific practices you need to observe to ensure safety and sanitation.
- It’s important to chill the new breast milk in a fridge first before adding it to a frozen batch.
- Avoid letting the frozen milk thaw before adding new milk to its surface.
- Once the new batch of milk is added to the frozen batch, make sure to pop it in the freezer immediately.
It pays to know more about breast milk storage to guarantee only the best nutrition for your baby. So, to answer the question ‘can you refreeze breast milk?’, the answer is that it really depends.
Make sure to keep your mommy instincts as sharp as ever when you feel like popping that bottle back into the freezer. This way, you can be sure to give your child breast milk that’s nothing short of the finest.