Can you refreeze breast milk thawed in the fridge?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can you refreeze breast milk thawed in the fridge” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not you can refreeze thawed breast milk. Moreover, we are going to discuss the shelf life of breast milk and tips to properly store breast milk.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

Can you refreeze breast milk thawed in the fridge?

It is not recommended to refreeze thawed breast milk as not only it can result in the breakdown of nutrients and textural change but can also lead to bacterial contamination.

Breast milk is loaded with a lot of nutrients and it always remains fresh inside the body of the mother. But once the breast milk is expressed, it has a short shelf life if kept out of the refrigerator, therefore care should be taken while handling and storing breast milk.

If you have thawed milk in the refrigerator then it is advised to use it within 24 hours once thawed.

Moreover, if frozen breast milk is thawed by letting it sit on the counter, you should use it within 2 hours or else discard it after 2 hours. Bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore there are greater chances of the breast milk being already contaminated with bacteria when left out for more than 2hours.

How long can breast milk stay in the freezer?

Breast milk lasts for about 6 months in the freezer when stored properly in an air-tight container or bottle.

Thus keeping the breast milk in the freezer will increase its shelf life considerably owing to the cool temperature of the freezer that halts the bacterial growth on the breast milk.

How to thaw frozen breast milk?

When it comes to thawing breast milk there are a couple of ways that you can use to do so.

  1. You can thaw the frozen breast milk by keeping it in the fridge overnight. The milk thawed this way stays good for 24 hours when stored in the fridge. It is worth mentioning that thawing the milk by leaving it in the fridge is the best method to defrost it as breast milk won’t face extreme temperature fluctuation this way.
  1. Another method that you can use to thaw your frozen breast milk is to submerge the plastic zipper bag containing the breast milk in a bowl of cold water. It is worth mentioning that you should use the breast milk thawed this way right away.

How long can breast milk stay in the fridge?

Breast milk lasts for 3-5 days in the fridge if stored in an air-tight bottle or air-tight container at or below 40°F. 

How long can breast milk stay at room temperature?

Freshly pumped breast milk as well as previously refrigerated breast milk lasts for about 4 hours when kept at room temperature but you should use it within 2 hours for safety concerns. 

You should discard the breast milk that has been left in open for more than 2 hours as bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore there are greater chances of the breast milk being already contaminated with bacteria when left out for more than 2 hours.

Moreover, if the temperature of the surroundings is about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then the process of spoilage takes place at a faster pace and it is recommended to discard breast milk that is left out in the open for more than an hour at 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is worth mentioning that the figures mentioned above are the estimated shelf life of breast milk.

Nutritional value of breast milk

Breast milk consists of 80% water and a proper quantity of macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Breast Milk is the simplest food that can be offered to newborns as it is easy to digest and a naturally sanitized food product. Breast milk has two types of protein. 60-80% of it is whey protein while the rest is casein protein.

Besides the basic macro and micronutrients, breast milk is also enriched with a lot of beneficial components, such as antibodies and white blood cells, probiotics, hormones, growth factors, antibacterial components, cytokines, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and special carbohydrates (oligosaccharides), that are required for the proper development of babies as well the maintenance of different functions of the body.

Tips to properly store breast milk

  1. You should always store the expressed breast milk at 40°F or below. Bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40°F and 140°F, therefore it is always advised to store breast milk at a lower temperature to preserve its freshness and quality for a long time.
  1. Breast milk can pick up odors therefore it should be stored in an air-tight container or bottle in the fridge. Moreover, it should be stored away from strong-smelling food items like garlic, onion, etc. 
  1. It is better to store the breast milk on one of the shelves of the refrigerator rather than the door as there is a lot of temperature fluctuation at the door of the fridge and that can harm the quality of expressed breast milk.
  1. You should never refreeze a thawed breast milk.

You can read breastfeeding vs formula feeding here.

Other FAQs about Milk that you may be interested in.

Do Oreos Contain Milk

Does Muscle Milk Stunt Growth

Does McDonald’s Have Almond Milk

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “can you refreeze breast milk thawed in the fridge” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not you can refreeze thawed breast milk. Moreover, we discussed the shelf life of breast milk and tips to properly store breast milk.

Citations

https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/recommendations/handling_breastmilk.htm#:~:text=Start%20counting%20the%2024%20hours,milk%20after%20it%20has%20thawed.
https://www.medela.com/breastfeeding/mums-journey/storing-and-thawing-breast-milk
https://www.medela.com/breastfeeding/mums-journey/storing-and-thawing-breast-milk
https://www.kindredbravely.com/blogs/bravely/breast-milk-storage