Whether you're a new mom or a seasoned parenting pro, breastfeeding often comes with its fair share of questions. Here are answers to some common queries that mothers — new and veteran — may have.
You can freeze and/or refrigerate your pumped (or expressed) breast milk. Store it in clean bottles with screw caps, hard plastic cups that have tight caps, or nursing bags (pre-sterilized bags meant for breast milk).
It's helpful to label each container with the date when the milk was pumped (and your baby's name if the milk is going to childcare providers). You can add fresh cooled milk to milk that is already frozen, but add no more than is already in the container. For example, if you have 2 ounces of frozen milk, then you can add up to 2 more ounces of cooled milk.
For healthy full-term infants:
To thaw frozen milk, you can move it to the refrigerator (it takes 24 hours to thaw), then warm by running warm water over the bag or bottle of milk and use it within the next 24 hours. If you need it immediately, then remove it from the freezer and run warm water over it until it's at room temperature. Do not refreeze it. Once your baby has started to drink from the bottle, you should use it within 1 hour.
You may find that different resources provide different variations on the amount of time you can store breast milk at room temperature, in the refrigerator, and in the freezer. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns or questions.
Although some women may choose to pump large volumes to be frozen, it's a good idea to actually store the breast milk in 2- to 4-ounce (59.1 to 118.2 milliliters) portions so as not to waste any. Label the bottles, cups, or bags with the date, then freeze them.
You also could pour the milk into ice cube trays that have been thoroughly cleaned in hot water, let them freeze until hard, store them in freezer bags, then count up the amount of cubes needed to make a full bottle.
Breast milk that's been frozen or refrigerated may look a little different from fresh breast milk, but that doesn't mean it's gone bad. It's normal for early breast milk to look kind of orange and the mature milk to look slightly blue, yellow, or brown when refrigerated or frozen. And it may separate into a creamy looking layer and a lighter, more milk-like layer. If this happens, just swirl it gently to mix it up again.
Thawed milk may smell or taste soapy due to the breakdown of fats in the milk. The milk is still safe to drink, and most babies won't have a problem with it. If your baby doesn't like it, the milk can be heated to scalding (bubbles around the edges) right after it is pumped or expressed and then quickly cooled and frozen. This switches off the enzyme that breaks down the milk fats.
Before their first use, wash and then sterilize the nipples, bottles, and washable breast pump supplies (for example, the breast shields and any other part that touches your breasts or your milk) by boiling them for 5 to 10 minutes. Check the manufacturer's recommendations for the length of time to boil the parts.
You also can sterilize the parts with a countertop or microwaveable sterilizer, but boiling works just as well and costs nothing. After that, wash the bottles, nipples, and pump supplies in hot, soapy water (or run them through the dishwasher) after every use. They can transmit bacteria if not cleaned properly.
The microwave can create dangerous "hot spots" in bottles of formula or breast milk, so you should never microwave them. Instead, you can run the bottle or freezer bag under warm water for a little bit, swirl the bag or bottle around in a bowl of warm water, or thaw the milk in the refrigerator.
You also can put your baby's bottles in a pan of warm water (away from the heat of the stove) and then test the temperature by squirting a drop or two on the inside of your wrist before feeding your baby. And bottle warmers are available for use at home or in the car.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: February 2015
|Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Offering nutrition information, resources, and access to registered dietitians.|
|Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children - better known as the WIC Program - serves to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, & children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|La Leche League This international organization offers support, encouragement, information, and education on breastfeeding.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|WomensHealth.gov The Office on Women's Health (OWH), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), offers reliable health and wellness information for women and girls.|
|Feeding Your 8- to 12-Month-Old At this age, babies start to explore table foods.|
|Burping Your Baby Feeding a baby for the first time is an exciting experience for any new parent. Here's a quick guide to one important aspect of feeding - burping.|
|Nursing Positions If you're a first-time parent, breastfeeding your newborn may seem complicated. Check out this article for information on common nursing positions, proper latching-on techniques, and how to know if your baby is getting enough to eat.|
|Feeding Your 4- to 7-Month-Old How can you tell if your baby is ready for solids? Learn how and when to get started.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Your Eating and Drinking Habits Here are answers to some common questions about what breastfeeding mothers should and shouldn't eat and drink.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Getting Started Here are answers to some common questions about beginning to breastfeed - everything from latch-on to let-down.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: How Much and How Often Here are answers to some common questions about beginning to breastfeed - everything from how often to nurse your baby each day to how to tell if your little one is eating enough.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Out and About Here are answers to some common questions about going out in public as a breastfeeding mom - from how to do it discreetly to taming sneaky leaks.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Pain and Discomfort Here are answers to some common questions about preventing and reducing breastfeeding discomfort, such as nipple and breast pain.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Pumping Here are answers to some common questions about pumping your breast milk - from buying a pump to making the process a little easier.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Solids and Supplementing Here are answers to some common supplemental feeding questions - from when to introduce solids to offering breastfed babies formula.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Some Common Concerns Here are answers to some questions about common breastfeeding concerns - from biting to spitting up.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Supply and Demand Here are answers to some common questions about your milk supply - from having too much to having too little.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Sleep - Yours and Your Baby's Here are answers to some common questions about breastfed babies and sleep - from where they should snooze to when they'll finally start sleeping through the night.|
|Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding Making a decision to breastfeed or formula feed your baby is a personal one. There are some points to consider to help you decide which option is best for you and your baby.|
|Bonding With Your Baby Bonding, the intense attachment that develops between you and your baby, is completely natural. And it's probably one of the most pleasurable aspects of infant care.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.