Proper Breastmilk Storage and Serving...

Updated on July 07, 2008
S.C. asks from Firestone, CO
10 answers

My 5mo old son is exclusively breastfed. I try to use a bottle of breastmilk to feed him every so often so that he will be comfortable with it if I should ever need to leave him. My question is this... Is it normal for refridgerated and thawed frozen milk to leave a gritty residue in the sides of the bottle? I know that seperation in milk is natural but am I not mixing it back up enough before serving it to him? Or am I not storing it correctly? He doesn't seem to mind it.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Hi S.,

My breast milk did the same. I stored my milk in bags and would massage the bag before giving my daughter any! It is completely normal even though it looks gross!


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answers from Denver on

Yes that is how it is. It is like cow milk in that way because the ceream separates to the top. Just shake it the best you can to mix it back together.
C. B



answers from Salt Lake City on

Le Leche League International, which is pretty much the world's authority of breastfeeding, has recently published updated information about storing human milk. You could access it on their Web site at, if you type "milk storage" or something similar into the search bar. You could also find a local La Leche League Leader to call and ask her any other storing/pumping/nursing questions you may have; all their services are free and their meetings are a fun and casual way to meet other nursing moms and get concerns resolved.
Since your milk is fresh and not pasturized (like cow's milk you'd buy at the supermarket) it seperates. The "grit" you describe is bits of fat that has solidified when the milk was either refigerated or frozen. It is normal, and even healthy. Some moms notice this more than others. If you *really* warmed up the milk again, that fat might melt back into the rest of the liquid, but since re-heating human milk to high temperatures destroys some of the immunities it offers and babies typically don't mind the occasional bit of "butter" in their mama's milk, it's not really worth the hassle.
Seeing pieces of cream and fat in your pumped milk should make you feel good about your milk supply, and also about nursing your growing baby! Breastmilk (as you may already know) changes in composition during each nursing. The foremilk comes first and is thin and watery. It is high in water and protein and comes out with the initial milk-ejection reflex, or "let-down," to immediately satisfy Baby. As Baby keeps nursing, the milk gets creamier and becomes the hindmilk, which is the high-fat, weight-gaining rich stuff. This is why recent research supports the idea of "finishing the first breast first" before offering the second breast, or perhaps just waiting until the next nursing session to start with the other side if Baby is satisfied--then Baby is sure to get lots of creamy hindmilk and not just two doses of foremilk.
Since you see bits of fat in your pumped milk (and of course, your baby is healthy and growing well) you know you are nursing often enough and long enough to allow your body to have this shift from foremilk to hindmilk. Obviously, when offered in a bottle, the milkall comes together, but the balance is still in there and it's total perfection for your baby.
Hope this is useful. Good for you!



answers from Boise on

Yes, mine always left grit also. It's weird, but the babies didn't mind.



answers from Pocatello on

Yes, it is normal to have the seperation that you are seeing in the breastmilk that has been refrigerated. I pumped for 4 months while my 2 lb premie was in the hospital. They told us that you need to use fresh milk that is being stored in the fridge within 24 hours. If you freeze your milk, you can store it in a deep freeze for up to 6 months and the freezer conneceted to your fridge for only 3 months. Also, never microwave breastmilk. Always defrost or warm in hot water.



answers from Omaha on

same thing happened with me, don't know if it's normal though



answers from Boise on

I just had a little boy and he was 2 months early. I had to pump breast milk the whole time he was in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. The nurses there told me that breast milk was good for 6 months when frozen and when it was thawed it was good for only 24 hours from the thaw time. Fresh breast milk is good for 48 hours if kept in the fridge. I noticed that my frozen and then thawed milk tended to separate easier than the fresh stuff. It didn't bother my son either. I hope this helps!!
M. M.



answers from Fort Collins on

I just wanted to respond to the last comment. First of all, it is normal. I am pumping quite often for my 6 week old daughter. However, it isn't advised to shake it as this can somehow disrupt the delicate cellular balance of the milk. It is better to "swirl" around in a circle instead of shake up and down. Hope that helps!! Pumping has really allowed me to get some things done with the help of others.



answers from Provo on

Perfectly normal. That's the cream. Good job!



answers from Denver on

As far as I know it is normal that happened with both of my children. Also a great idea for easy storage and quick thawing....get the milk bags that zip up, lay them flat to freeze. This takes up little room and there is more surface area so when you though it out it thaws out much quicker. Good luck!

Full time working mother of 2 a 21/2 yo and a 15 mo.

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