Breastmilk Storage & Re-warming

Updated on May 19, 2008
D.H. asks from Fort Lauderdale, FL
10 answers

I am breastfeeding my two month old daughter and pump while I am at work. I have read that once you warm your breastmilk, you should discard any portion that is not used. Sometimes, she will eat a bottle and just need a little more so my husband heats up the next bottle and will refrigerate the unused portion for the next feeding. She does not show any signs of upset stomach if we rewarm it and feed it to her later, but I'm uncomfortable because I read you should not do that. Is this true? Also, if you can re-refrigerate and use later, is there a maximum time that it should be used within. This often happens at her last feeding so it might not be three hours later that she would eat the rest of the bottle (also complicated by the fact that if I am then home, why would we give her a bottle). I hate to throw away so much breastmilk when she only consumes a little of the next bottle.

Also, I have read that if you freeze your breastmilk, you must consume it within 24 hours of defrosting and that you definitely should not rewarm thawed breastmilk (i.e. the unused portion must definitely be discarded). Thoughts, comments...

Thank you!

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for your feedback. Honestly, I'm still not 100% clear since I got a wide variety of responses. I am getting the general impression that most people feel that using the left over amount within a few hours would be okay. Ultimately, I think the suggestions to reheat less make the most sense. Thank you everyone!

More Answers



answers from New York on

I would contact Le Leche League in your area. There is a web site I used for reference while I breasfed. That site is :

This is what I know from a handy book I used while nursing, but it should be verified by someone else if you have any doubts. The book is called The Nursing Mother's Problem Solver by Claire Martin. "Unrefrigerated breastmilk will keep at room temperature for 15 hours without spoiling. Frozen breastmilk thawed in the refrigerator must be used within 24 hours. If a baby hasn't finished a bottle of expressed breastmilk, you can use it within 24 hours but after that, it must be thrown out." (233-234)

Also, it's best to store your milk in 2 oz portions. That way you are not really wasting too much. You OB/GYN and/or ped should have a local number for Le Leche League. They are an awesome support system that is free for the community of moms who need breastfeeding information.



answers from Boca Raton on


1. Store your breastmilk in smaller batches

I attend a meeting 1st Sat of the month in Boynton Beach
I have called the leaders when I was challenged. They are thier to support you and are more then willing to help.
Go to the website for the numbers.

Good luck!
J. Hagman
Breastfeeding mom 11 months and going strong.



answers from Miami on

I have done this for 6 months. Here is what I did: once you defrost the breast milk, do not freeze it again. You can, however, warm it and rewarm over the course of 1-2 days. Just use your common sense: open milk, warmed up several times over, with saliva inside, would you want to drink it 2 days later? Also, as much as possible, after I pumped, we tried to give the baby freshly pumped milk, as opposed to defrosted milk. Otherwise, we routinely defrosted a bag, which would fill up about 2-3 bottles and kept the bottles in the fridge. If the baby ate, and there was less than 2 ounces left, we discarded the remaining milk. If more, we added to it from the next bottle for the next feeding; that way you dont contaminate the next bottle, but have enough milk. Hope this makes sense. Good luck!



answers from Miami on

I used to leave my bmilk out at room temperature for hours...most houses are airconditioned to atleast 70.....also you don't have to warm breast milk at all. But if you are more comfortable doing so tell your husband to split that 2 bottle so he is only warming half and replacing the other half in the fridge to be warmed later. Good Luck!



answers from Miami on

When a baby drinks breast milk from a bottle the saliva mixes with it an will then cancel out the nutrients if reused.
Try making one extra bottle with a few ounces that can be divided and poured into another bottle for those extra feeding times.
It is a shame to throw away breast milk.


answers from Miami on

Good Day,
I too breast fed my son; and I saved the pumped milk-frozen for up to 3 days; and I did warm the bottles up and we never had any problems. Again, I was told 3 days frozen is fine. Since we usually produce more milk then what is consumed, any unused milk should be discarded. God bless you and your precious angel!
Kathy N.



answers from Port St. Lucie on

I had a similar situation with my daughter when I was working and breastfeeding.

What we did was this: in the a.m. before work, I thawed out the breastmilk I thought I would need for that day at daycare, based on the usualy amounts. I asked the daycare specifically NOT to heat the milk and to always immediately refridgerate any remaining milk to sue for the next feeding. (When I approached them with my request, they thought I was a little wonky, I think, but they did as I asked.)

Pretty quickly she adapted to the idea that milk from bottles is cold and milk from mommy is warm. When I was expressing milk, it really felt like liquid gold to me. I didn't want any to go to waste. And this worked very well.

It also had a couple added benefits. #1 I didn't have to worry about nutrients being lost through re-heating. #2 Since she preferred warm mommy to cold bottles, she weaned herself from the bottle and switched to a cup of breastmilk at about 8 months.

Try for specific info about freshness guidlelines. There is a LOT of info there.



answers from Miami on

My suggestion is to freeze it in smaller quantities or at least a few servings of milk in smaller quantities (2 oz portions). That way, when she needs just a bit more, you can just heat up that portion in warm water.

If you see that she consistently needs more (which she will) then you can just start freezing each bottle in larger quantities.

As she gets older, your supply will increase with her demand. Having her nurse as long and often as possible while you are together will insure your supply increases as her demand requires.

God sure created mothers to be amazing ... this just more proof of that!!

God's blessings and best of luck.



answers from Miami on

try freezing some in smaller amounts, like have a few bottles/packs of just 2 oz for when she needs a little extra. I used to freeze mine in ziploc bags which lay flat in the freezer and take up less space.

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