Does microwaving breast milk destroy nutrients? (+5 tips)

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “does microwaving breast milk destroy nutrients” with an in-depth analysis of the effect of microwaving on breast milk. Moreover, we are going to discuss the shelf life of breast milk and the tips to properly store breast milk.

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

Does microwaving breast milk destroy nutrients?

Microwaving does destroy nutrients present in breast milk therefore it is never recommended to thaw or heat the breast milk in the microwave. Microwaving breast milk has an effect on the immunological components like antibodies present in milk. 

Moreover, if you heat the milk at a really high temperature in the microwave or directly in the pan, it can also denature some of the proteins present in the milk.

Apart from this, the microwave does not heat the breast milk evenly, thus, heating the breast milk in the microwave creates hot spots, which can burn the baby’s mouth.

You can read more about how to warm breast milk here.

What is the best way to thaw breast milk?

The best way to thaw breast milk is to leave it in the refrigerator overnight. You can also thaw the frozen milk by putting it in a bowl of cold water but care should be taken while thawing the milk in water. Moreover, you can also thaw milk under running water.

What is the best way to warm the breast milk?

So if you want to warm the expressed breast milk, it is a good choice to warm some water in a pan and leave the bottle containing breast milk in it for some time. Afterward, take out the bottle of milk from the pan and shake it, put a drop of milk on the rear side of the hand to check its temperature. The breast milk should be lukewarm, it should not be too hot, or else it will burn the baby’s mouth. 

How long does breast milk last at room temperature?

Unrefrigerated breast milk lasts for about 3-4 hours. The expressed breast milk has a short shelf life if kept unrefrigerated, therefore care should be taken while handling and storing breast milk. 

How long does breast milk last 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 does breast milk last in the freezer?

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

What is the nutritional profile of breast milk?

Breast milk has a different nutritional profile, flavor, and color than regular milk. It is highly nutritious and contains all the macro and micronutrients that are needed for the proper growth and development of a baby. No doubt that the diet of the mother greatly impacts the quality of the breast milk but mostly breast milk has everything that a growing child needs.

Breast milk has two types of protein. 60-80% of it is whey protein while the rest is casein protein. Moreover, breast milk also contains all the essential fatty acids that are required for the proper nourishment of the baby. Now when it comes to the vitamins part of the milk, that is where the diet of the mother has the greatest impact. Therefore a mother should consume a healthy, nutritious, and wholesome diet so that the baby can get essential vitamins via breast milk.

So lactose is the main carbohydrate and accounts for 40% of the carbohydrates present in the breast milk. Thus breast milk is important for the proper development and well-being of the child.

How can you store breast milk properly?

  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. 
  2. It is better to store the breast milk on a shelf 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 milk.
  3. You should always store the expressed breast milk at 40°F or below in the fridge. 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.
  4. It is best practice to store breast milk on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator as it is the coldest part of the refrigerator and has its temperature between 38 °F to 40 °F.
  5. You should never thaw or heat the breast milk in the microwave or directly in the pan. It contains live cells (stem cells) and antibodies and such practices can damage them. It is recommended to thaw the breast milk in the refrigerator overnight or under running water.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “does microwaving breast milk destroy nutrients” with an in-depth analysis of the effect of microwaving on breast milk. Moreover, we discussed the shelf life of breast milk and the tips to properly store breast milk.

Citations

https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/recommendations/handling_breastmilk.htm

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Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.

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