Thawing Breast Milk and Nursing

Updated on April 21, 2014
T.D. asks from Roseville, CA
11 answers

Happy Easter! Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this.

My daughter is 2 months old and I have been pumping since she was born. We tried nursing but my daughter wouldn't latch on. My nipples would crack, bleed and I would be in so much pain so I decided to strictly pump. I pumped so much every two hours even through the night to build up my supply. I figured if I could nurse at least she can have my breast milk. Well now I have over 300 bags of frozen milk stored. I stored them all in 6 oz increments so I can fill the bags up. My daughter only drinks 2-3 oz per feeding. I know I can thaw out the milk and give to her with 24 hours if it stays in the fridge and only one hour if it stays out. My question is once the milk is thawed can I keep reheating it?

About nursing...Five days ago my daughter latched on. It's still painful my nipples are not cracked afterwards so I decided to give nursing another try. Can you offer tips on nursing? I've tried giving her all the breast like nipple bottles to help her nurse but she hates those. Now that I started nursing again, the transition from breast to her crib is really hard. She would wait up and just cries until I hold her. I used to give her a bottle, she would eat and fall asleep and I would put her down with no problems for her naps. Now she would cry and I have to hold her all day long. Any advice on that? Thanks!

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answers from Sacramento on

I used a nipple protector similar to the NUK Barely There Nipple Shield which can be found on Amazon or other stores. It was a life saver in the beginning. Good luck and congratulations.

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answers from Washington DC on


Congratulations on your baby girl!!

I'm sorry you are having problems and pain breast feeding! Have you talked to the breast feeding consultant with your pediatrician? If not, I would.

I didn't reheat the breast milk. Although my son was a butterball turkey and and more....and like you - I pumped and stored...I gave my breast milk to several friends who were having problems breast feeding...and even wet nursed two friends kids!

Personally - I would NOT reheat it. I would let it set for a maybe an hour...the Le Leche League would know that's been over a decade since I breast fed!! I'm sure the rules have changed! :)

The holding? It's could be the age. They grow and change...she could be having constipation or gas...that could cause the crying...there's a lot that happens in the first year of life...they grow more in the first year than they do any other time.

When she wakes up? Hold her. She needs to know you are there and for her. Try one of the baby wraps or slings. That has helped MANY women as their babies grow and go through a "clingy" stage. She might not be getting as much milk because she's not latched on properly so she still might be hungry. I STRONGLY suggest you talk to a lactation consultant (most pediatricians have one one staff) and either try and get her latched on properly....breast feeding should not hurt. Promise.

It sounds like you are doing a great job!! How great that you pumped and have such a great supply!! YOU GO GIRL!!!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on


I nursed for about 2+ years and did pump a lot at the beginning. In regard to your question about re-heating: my suggestion is to thaw the bag in the fridge overnight (or for however long it takes) and then ONLY reheat the amount you will use, say the 3 oz. Toss whatever remains in the bottle after that feeding.

In regard to nursing/transitions-- can't help you. Co-slept until he was three. I hope someone else has some good help for you. You have changed her routine, so give her some time to adjust. Also make sure she's getting burped well and you are eliminating as much air in her belly when she nurses as you can through adequate support of her head nice and close to the breast. Good luck, and congratulations on your new little girl! It's a tiring but very exciting time, and new babies...don't they smell so good?:)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

If you have not gone to a lactation consultant, I would. Or even LLL. They will asses how she is latching, and make it so it will not be painful.. You are lucky that she finally latched.. Mine did not.

For the milk, I saved it in 3-4 ounces I figured I could always do 2 , but I did not want a lot of extra. Yes, you can use it with in 24 hrs if it is in the fridge.

Sleeping, do what is natural for your two. Today she will do X tomorrow it will be Y..


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answers from Dallas on

Pretty much the same thing as Nervy Girl. I always sent my frozen milk with my parents whenever I had to be out of town. They would stick a couple of bags in the fridge each night and morning to use for the feedings and only take as much out of the fridge pack as was needed for that feeding, so there was never a worry about reheating.

Co-sleeping is awesome for nursing. Any way you can put up rails on the bed and lay down and nurse her before the nap? I had to put him in a crib or Pack N Play when he started rolling and crawling, but if I moved him after he was asleep for a few minutes, he wouldn't wake up and eventually I could just lay him down in there after nursing and he would fall asleep. My son started daycare around that age too, so that helped him getting comfortable with sleeping in different places.

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answers from Toledo on

I also co-slept, so at night I would nurse lying down and usually fall asleep as soon as baby was latched on. During the day I would lie down with baby in the middle of my bed and nurse to sleep. Then I would slowly role away and let baby nap.

You could also try a swing or a bouncy seat for naps. Some babies respond very well to those.

If you ever go back to bottles only for any reason, temperature doesn't matter. I mean don't burn baby, but baby can drink cold bottles. The reason we often heat bottles is really for babies who do nurse and are used to milk being at body temperature. But if baby only gets bottles, cold is just fine. Honest!



answers from Washington DC on is a great resource! And also talk to a lactation consultant or a La Leache League leader. If your nursing is painful and your nipples are cracked, you may have a bad latch problem or a minor infection or both.



answers from Miami on

While latching and nursing might feel different and strange - it should not hurt once you and your baby get the hang of it. Please, please see a lactation consultant or at the very least go to and read some there.

I pumped exclusively for a year for my first baby and then nursed my second. Nursing is so much easier!!!!! I actually really miss nursing and would nurse any other children (although none are planned).

All babies, whether they nurse or not, like to be held. Try wearing your daughter. At 2 months old either a sling or an infant carrier like a Baby Bjorn with infant insert should work. Babies like the comfort of being physically close to you. The carrying devices help because then you have your hands sort of free:)

Enjoy this time! It will go by so quickly.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Thaw the milk in the fridge overnight. Then only heat up as much as you need for 1 feeding at a time. No need to keep reheating.

As for nursing, at this point I think you should call your local Le Leche League. You can often go to a meeting and the ladies will help you get the latch right. Or, ask those ladies for the name of a lactation consultant in your area. They always know who the best LCs are.

I'm not sure what to tell you about the transitions. Her newfound clinginess might have nothing to do with breast/bottle, but just a new developmental phase. Happens all the time. During the phases where my babies wanted to be held more, I learned to use a front pack and and moby wrap.



answers from Albuquerque on

Where to start... :)

How often is she taking the 2-3 oz? It sounds like she may not be getting enough? How long does it take you to pump the 6oz you're bagging? If she doesn't have a successful latch, she may not be getting enough from you, either.
I was given a nipple shield (never used it), but the lanosin cream was wonderful those first couple of months! It's safe for baby and keeps the skin lubricated and comfortable. BF shouldn't *hurt* but it is an awkward and sometimes (very) uncomfortable feeling. You really should consult with a lactation specialist (look up your local La Leche League chapter)! I met with ours once, but was a little weirded out by the "touchy-feely" openness... :) If I had had difficulties, they would've been an excellent resource for information and help!

Now, for stored breastmilk...

Pump, freeze directly, thaw in fridge, transfer amount for feeding (warm it up), use within a few hours.
Amount remaining in fridge can be saved for 24 hours. Only heat any amount for a feeding ONE time. Once thawed, milk cannot be refrozen.
Pump, place in bottle, fridge for up to a week, counter (room temp) for up to 6hrs.
In the freezer: (fridge/freezer) up to 6 months; deep freezer (up to 1 year).

I wish you luck with the breastfeeding--it's an amazing bond and comfort to provide that to your baby!

If she is having a hard time sleeping, consider other sources: growth spurt, seasonal illness, etc. It may not be *all* about you, the feedings, or BF. Talk to her pediatrician. (My dd is 5 and still has "phases" where she has a hard time sleeping!)
Finally, my brief PSA:
If, at the end of your breastfeeding experience, you find that you have lots of extra (not-yet-expired) milk, please consider donating! I had a wonderful experience with BF and ended up donating about 800oz to the Mother's Milk Bank of North Texas. They provide homogenized human milk to babies in the NICU!

Good luck, mama!



answers from Santa Fe on

Not specifically an answer to your question, but a website with a ton of breastfeeding questions/answers is they are a great resource.
Part of the trick is that things vary for each person/baby. :)
My first was happy to drink breast milk from a bottle, straight out of the refrigerator. My next two would not touch it if it was not warmed some. (All three of them would go back and forth between bottles and breast without issues, although it took #3 longer to get the hang of breast - due to being a preemie.)

One thing to watch the milk for is if it starts to look/smell soapy. I seem to produce an enzyme that makes it go sour faster than all the websites would lead you to believe is normal. You just have to get the hang of what works for you and your little one. :)

In terms of sleeping and naps? All I have found is that it changes over time. It can be totally independent of anything that you can see from the outside. I always blame teeth if I don't see anything, just can tell something is 'off'. That is the hardest part to me, what works one week does not necessarily work the next week. :)

Congratulations on your little one. :) You'll get the hang of it. Figure out what works for you, trying suggestions from others. If they work, awesome, if not, move on. :)

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