Most people ask sensible questions. I have heard some say, “why can’t you refreeze breast milk?” Many nursing mothers out there are thinking of refreezing their breast milk for their babies. If you are thinking about doing the same thing, then you need to read this article first.
Now here is why you cannot and shouldn’t think of refreezing your breast milk. Human breast milk is massively durable, long-lasting, and nutrient-rich. It also has an impressive antioxidant, anti-bacteria, and immunological properties. However, you cannot refreeze anything that is taken out of the freezer. Though there’s limited research as to why refreezing breast milk isn’t possible, it’s not a good idea. It will cause the milk to lose some of its nutritional components and taste. And the last thing you want is to give your baby a poor quality or spoilt milk, which can cause food poisoning.
Anyway, I also wrote other things about storing breast milk that every parent needs to know. It’s crucial whether you currently have a baby or not. So, continue reading to know more about the liquid gold called human breast milk.
Formula And Frozen Breast Milk: Which Is Better?
You might be thinking that giving your baby formula is better than stored breast milk. Well, I hate to burst your bubbles. But the truth is stored human milk (provided it hasn’t gone bad) is way better than formula.
The reason that stored human milk is better than formula is not the taste or nutritional value. It’s the presence of antioxidants that can do your newborn baby a world of good.
But it’s always advisable to feed babies with fresh milk from the breast. The reason is that they tend to contain more antioxidants and nutrients than the stored ones.
Now you might be wondering what benefits antioxidants have.
Well, let me tell you. When a baby is born, his or her tiny body gets packed with free radicals. These free radicals are not there for fun. They are there to destroy infants.
Free radicals are more present in premature baby’s bodies. That’s why doctors and nutritionists always advise that mothers nursing premature babies give them breast milk. They tend to perform better in such conditions.
Now, I wrote that free radicals could increase an infant’s vulnerability to diseases. But the thing is antioxidants from breast milk can get them off the baby’s system.
Again, the incidence of intestinal complications is quite lower when babies are consuming breast milk than formulas.
What Freezing Can Do To The Human Breast Milk?
I won’t advice against freezing breast milk. The reason is that I know for a fact that the need to store it will undoubtedly arise. Most mothers also prefer giving their kids the breast milk. So when the best way is to make it available via freezing, then they can’t escape doing it.
But here is what freezing does to the human milk. Can you remember how different your food tastes when refrigerated for a while? Anyways, it’s not that the breast milk starts tasting horrible when chilled. Just that they tend to lose something when stored in this manner.
The antioxidant activity, which is crucial to the baby’s wellbeing, tends to decline. And this happens mainly when the milk is refrigerated for at least 48 hours.
Freezing breast milk, on the other hand, is worst. It can cause the antioxidant activity in the milk to drop even further.
However, whether the milk is frozen, or refrigerated for days, it is still way better than formula. The only way it becomes useful or worthless to the baby is when it has gone bad. More on this later!
Storing Breast Milk: Tips On How To Store It Safely
Are you thinking of storing your breast milk so your baby can have a taste of your liquid gold whenever you are far away? You are not alone! Many nursing mothers around the globe do this.
But it’s not the storing that matters. It’s how well you store your breast milk that counts. Well, if you are considering walking this path, then you need to read this section carefully and take the tips seriously.
You can store and keep your breast milk fresh for your precious baby via diverse processes:
- Storing breast milk in a cool box – In this case, you have to use some ice packs and ensure it is left not more than 24 hours.
- Storing at room temperature – The ideal temperature, in this case, is 25-degree centigrade. And storage should be at least 6 hours.
- Storing in the fridge’s freezer compartment – You can store the breast milk here for at least 2 weeks.
- Storing in a freezer at home – You can store at – 18-degree centigrade
- Storing in the fridge – Keep the fridge at 4-degree centigrade or colder. You should also not store breast milk together with uncooked foods, meat, or even egg.
It’s a wise idea to store breast milk. Your baby will always have something natural to eat while you are away. Every mother knows the benefits of breast milk. But again, storing the right way is the best.
The advice for mothers storing breast milk is to do the right thing when storing milk. Below are some of the tips and advice to follow:
- Freeze or refrigerate milk in smaller portions. You can go with 2-4 ounces at one time. Don’t fill up the whole bottle, which is 6-8 ounces. Well, if you think your baby is going to need more, get extra milk.
- If it thaws in the fridge, it doesn’t matter. The smaller the portion, the faster the breast milk will also heat up. So, if your baby is hungry and can’t wait longer, you can easily make food available.
- Get sterilized containers; don’t store your breast milk in any bottle. You can go for breast milk bags or plastic bottles. But avoid using glass bottles. The last thing you want is offering your baby milk that contains cracked bottles. The tendency for glass to break is high.
- Put dates and labels on all the plastic bottles or whatever you are using to store your milk. The idea is to be able to tell how long the milk has remained stored.
- Use the older breast milk stored in the container first. Don’t start with the new ones.
- Ensure you always store your breast pump in a clean place.
- Keep the breast pump clean. You can detach and wash the different parts with hot, soapy water. Then rinse multiple times before you sterilize it.
- Wash both hands properly before expressing.
- Ensure you wash those hands properly before you handle the container bearing the milk for storage.
- Do not at any time store your breast milk in the door compartment of your freezer or refrigerator. The problem is that it can defrost there quicker, which is not ideal.
Factors That Should Determine How You Store Your Breast Milk
You can store your breast milk in the freezer or refrigerator; both are ideal. But the primary thing that would determine how you store it is the use.
Now ask yourself, how soon do I intend to use the breast milk I wish to store? Let’s say you plan to use it in the next few days. What would be the ideal way to store it?
The answer is to refrigerate, and it’s way better than freezing it. But then, freezing is ideal when you intend to store the breast milk for quite a long time, let’s say four months. And keep in mind that the milk will lose some of its nutritional value along the line.
Adding Fresh Milk To Stored Milk: Is It Advisable?
Yes, why not! It’s advisable and safe, too. You can combine your freshly expressed breast milk with the one stored in the fridge. But make sure both were expressed the same day, under a period of 24 hours. Now cool the milk in the fridge before you combine the two batch of milk.
Furthermore, something that happens to milk when stored for quite a long time is that it might separate. And looking at the milk alone, you might think it has even spoilt. Just know it’s a normal thing.
When you shake the bottle or container gently, the separated breast milk will mix up properly. Now warm the milk and give it to your baby. You don’t have to transfer to another container to warm. Just get a bowl and place some warm water in it, then put the container or bag in there. After a while, the milk will become warm.
So, why can’t you refreeze breast milk? Anyway, I hope you now know the reason. Once you take it out of where you stored it and warm, do not return to refreeze. You should also do everything you can to let your baby have fresh breast milk. It tends to have a higher amount of antioxidants and nutrients. And keep in mind that even when you refrigerate or put breast milk in a freezer, it’s still far better and beneficial than formula.