26 answers

Combining Breastmilk

I exclusively pump my breastmilk for my one month old, however I had a breast infection and my milk supply decreased significantly. For the time being I supplemented with formula while I continued to pump. Since I combine my expressed milk from the fridge for her feedings, sometimes she does not finish the full 4 ounces I prepare for her. I hate to waste my breastmilk since it is not in an abundant supply yet. My question is, can I take the one ounce she did not finish and put it back in the fridge and add more to it later when she is hungry again?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

The 'official' line is no you can't save it. I have done it many times. My personal rule was not to heat it more than twice. What my nanny has done is to warm the second bottle (smaller amount) and add that to the leftover bottle so that the leftover milk wasn't re-heated. If he hadn't finished that combo bottle she would have tossed it. However, since that bottle was always smaller I don't think it ever happened :)

K.
You can definitely refridgerate the unused breastmilk and use it again for the next feeding, but I wouldn't combine "used" and "unused." You can just warm the one ounce and give it and then give an additional 3 ounces. And to make it easier, I would have that 2nd bottle all warmed up and ready to go so you can just pop it in when the 1st bottle is done.
Good luck and feel better soon. From what I've heard breast infections can be so painful and exhausting. (as if motherhood and breastfeeding didn't take care of the exhaustion thing by itself!)
J. M.

Congratulations for breastfeeding. Even if the baby is not geting it from you keep pumping and you will express as much as you pump. I breastfeed my baby for more than six months and I had to pump it because my baby could not suck. Do not give the baby the same liqued she had before.

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Check with kellymom.com or your local La Leche League leader (http://www.lllusa.org/IL/WebPalosIL.html) but breastmilk lasts 7 days in the fridge. It's great stuff! I would think you'd be OK,especially if you use it by the next day.

I admire your commitment to breastfeeding through challenges. It is very rewarding.

No, once the milk is used if she does not finish it within an hour it has to be dumped. The bacteria in her mouth will cause it to spoil if re-used.

Agree with Courtney. Also if you want to get your supply back, I would feed from the breast directly. The pump is not the same as direct nursing and if you are having trouble now when your milk supply regulates in a couple months you will probably have more. Nothing will build up your supply more than nursing as much as possible. It will also help get rid of the infection more quickly and it is completely fine to nurse while you have mastitis.

Yes, K., I think you can put it back in the fridge. However, I would make sure she finishes it within the next day or two. I might also suggest only putting 2-3 oz. in the bottle (I think that's what most one-month-olds eat). You can always add more if she finishes it, and that way you can avoid this issue entirely.

As an OB nurse, once a bottle is fed you have one hour to use it or toss. So, feed the breast milk first, then give formula. Are you putting baby to the breast? I agree that the baby breastfeeding will increase your supply better and faster that pumping. You need to take a day, put your feet up, and nurse your baby on demand. Forget about everything else, increase your fluids (preferably no caffiene). The next day you will have more milk. Good Luck!

I would say no but you can put the breast milk in 2 bottles to begin with.

K.,
First of all - good for you that you are nursing - it is the best gift you can give your newborn baby girl!!! Breast Infections can be difficult, stick with pumping and don't be discouraged!
I nursed my son for 1 year and my daughter for 2 1/2 years - phew! I've gone through several bad infections and have mixed milk w/formula. I think as long as you don't let the temperature of the formula get too warm, you should be fine. They say that breast milk can sit at room temperature and be fine much longer than cow milk.
Breast milk is precious and every ounce is like gold when you are the one making it.
Try making smaller mix bottles in anticipation of your daughter not drinking all of it - it is easier to make more mix when you need more.
Best wishes!!!! Hang in there!

The official answer is "no" because the milk could be contaminated after she drinks out of it and theoretically make her sick. My answer is "I would save it and feed it to her" though so I guess it depends on what you are comfortable with.

Have you tred anything to up your supply or getting baby back to breast? The website www.kellymom.com has some great info on increasing milk supply and getting baby back to breast if you are interested in that. Exclusive pumping can make it harder to keep up your supply so you might find some good advice on that.

YES - you can combine for the next feeding - your mommy's milk is too precious to pour down the drain! However this is not the same for formula or breastmilk mixed with formula. MM is filled with all kinds of goodies that prevent bacteria growth after a feeding, unlike what happens with formula. Check out kellymom.com for some great info on everything breastmilk related: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/milkstorage.html I also EP and had many questions about handling MM in the beginning. The above website was very helpful. Happy pumping!!

Agree with the others -- make only 2 or 3 ounces (You can do this with breast milk!) and make more if she wants it, ounce by ounce.

I never wasted that stuff. :)

The way I look at it is that breast milk is Liquid Gold!! I have 2 kids and I never wasted my breast milk. I know books say disgard the remaining after feedings. I just could not do it. I aso had a friend who felt the same way. I hope this makes you feel more at ease.

I don't think it probably matters, but I don't know why you are not feeding your baby from your breast. That is the best way to get your supply up. Nurse often and don't supplement. I hope that helps. Babies sucking is stronger than a breast-pump

I am an L&D nurse and I agree with M R. I breastfed my 2 1/2 yo until she was a year old and am currently BF my 1 mos old. I would definetely recommend you but her back to breast as often as you can to help increase milk supply. Try eating sesame seeds also ( that is known to increase supply). Hope this helps. keep up the good work.

Congratulations for breastfeeding. Even if the baby is not geting it from you keep pumping and you will express as much as you pump. I breastfeed my baby for more than six months and I had to pump it because my baby could not suck. Do not give the baby the same liqued she had before.

I did that and my children are alive, 23 and 18 respectively. The second wouldn't hardly nurse and I kept trying so that was what I did. However if you are worried then you of course always check with your doctor. And of course there was the LaLeche league who seemed to have a separate line for me because called so much! I wonder if they are still in existence. You can always call the newborn section of the hospital, I'll bet they still have some very nice nurses who would answer that question if they are not busy...

I also suggest kellymom or the La Leche websites. They have consultants who answer questions on their message boards. I think that some consultants say you can now. I remember with my son 4 yrs ago it was a no-no. Now I have read every type of answer as far as combining bottles before and after feedings.

My lactation consultant said that you could use leftover breast milk but the place where bad bacteria grows is on the used nipple, not in the milk. So, I would combine unfinished milk with more expressed milk in a whole new bottle or finish the previous bottle but with a fresh nipple. Good luck!

The 'official' line is no you can't save it. I have done it many times. My personal rule was not to heat it more than twice. What my nanny has done is to warm the second bottle (smaller amount) and add that to the leftover bottle so that the leftover milk wasn't re-heated. If he hadn't finished that combo bottle she would have tossed it. However, since that bottle was always smaller I don't think it ever happened :)

I exclusively pumped my breast milk too. You are not supposed to reuse breast milk, especially if it has been warmed up. However, there were a few times when I had to do it. I couldn't give my babies formula, so when I was low on supply..I did mix it a couple of times. My kids were fine, but it isn't something I would recommend unless it is an emergency.

Breastmilk is more stable than formula, meaning it will take longer to go bad. That said, from what I've heard, once a baby has taken some from the bottle there's bacteria that can grow from the introduction of his/her saliva. So the lactation consultants told me to throw away bottles he'd started after an hour.

I was in the same state as you though. I didn't have enough milk so my son got both breastmilk and formula and I never tossed a bottle that he started. I just put it right in the fridge and used it next time. My son was fine so it's really your call.

An idea if you're worried about it is to feed him a bottle with just breastmilk first to ensure he drinks all of that and then give him formula. If he doesn't finish that you won't feel as bad about tossing it (although that isn't cheap either).

(Oops and I keep saying him because my child is a boy, you have a girl...sorry, you get the idea.) :-)

Just sharing my experience, obviously it's your call.

I used to EP and as inconvenient as this is I would make two bottles if we were low: one of breastmilk and one of formula. I fed the breastmilk first then switched to formula. I didn't care if the formula didn't get finished and I had to throw it out.

Personally, I wouldn't re-use anything that was in a bottle because bacteria from the baby's mouth comes in contact with the nipple and mixes with the liquid. However there are many babies who took a bottle, didn't finish it, and were given the same bottle at a later time and still somehow managed to survive :) It's all about what you're comfortable doing.

Again kellymom is the place to go. I personally would probably save the extra and start the next feeding with it, but then woud finish that feedig with a fresh bottle (instead of mixing). That way you know it's only one feeding old, so to speak. Also try fenugreek. It has help me with milk supply twice now. Kellymom should have instructions for using it on their website and you can get it a GNC or other health food places.

Absolutely! Do not waste your precious breastmilk! (It's heartbreaking when you've just finished nursing your baby and he/she throws it all up - how frustrating!!)

However, for safety's sake I would feed the leftover milk first, and then more if she wants it. Say you have one ounce left after a feeding Monday evening and you put it in the fridge. Tuesday morning you add 3 ounces to it for the next feeding, and she only drinks three ounces of that combined bottle. Then you put that leftover one ounce in the fridge for later, and so on. Since you've combined it, essentially you'd be feeding Monday's leftovers Tuesday evening. Since breastmilk does last fairly long, that wouldn't be bad, so long as it was refrigerated the whole time and only reheated once. You just have to be careful combining milk again and again, to avoid the same milk being heated repeatedly and potentially lasting for days.

Yes, you can re-refridgerate so you dont waste it, but I only re-refridgerated one additional time. Try giving her a little less & then just adding some if she wants more, but I rarely wasted any expressed milk--I used a pump for 15 months, so I tried to always use the milk. You have to be much more careful when your using the defrosted milk & mixing with fresh--but using just the fresh, you can definately re-refridgerate & it could stay out more than regular milk & formula & still be re-refridgerated--my best tool was my nose & it never steered me wrong. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

K.
You can definitely refridgerate the unused breastmilk and use it again for the next feeding, but I wouldn't combine "used" and "unused." You can just warm the one ounce and give it and then give an additional 3 ounces. And to make it easier, I would have that 2nd bottle all warmed up and ready to go so you can just pop it in when the 1st bottle is done.
Good luck and feel better soon. From what I've heard breast infections can be so painful and exhausting. (as if motherhood and breastfeeding didn't take care of the exhaustion thing by itself!)
J. M.

I would call the lactation consultant at the hospital where your baby was born. YOu hate to waste any breast milk, but there are certain rules for safety as far as thawing breast milk, keeping out of fridge for so long etc. They can also tell you what is an appropriate amount of milk to be drinking at this age etc. Kudos for the breastfeeding. I nursed all three of my children as well ...good for you!

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