Nursing moms often need a good supply of breast milk ready for baby when they are away. Freezing breast milk helps keep the milk fresh for months at a time.
When I was nursing my sons, I had to freeze breast milk for times when I had to go to work or would otherwise be away from my baby longer than a couple hours. One thing that drove me crazy was having to pour unused breast milk down the drain after it had passed the five day rule in the fridge. Freezing the milk made it easier to ensure I had a good supply of breast milk in case I was unable to pump for a day or two.
My how to freeze breast milk method
After trying several ways to freeze my milk, I developed this method that worked well for me. I stood Playtex bottle liners (labeled with the date) in a cup and measured four ounces of milk into the liner. I then folded the top of the liner over twice and secured with a piece of tape. I used a wooden clothespin to stand this up in an empty baby wipes bin. I was able to fit at least six of these in the wipes bin.
It does take up some room in the freezer, but these containers were much easier to defrost than bottles, and because I had a limited supply of bottles, it allowed me to use the bottles for pumping and feeding only. After the milk was frozen, I used sandwich or quart freezer bags to hold the individual portions together. Breast milk is safe in the fridge for up to 5 days, so every 4-5 days, I would freeze any milk in the fridge.
Safe storage information for breast milk
Breast milk is safe for up to six hours at room temperature, and then can be put into the fridge for up to five days. Depending on the type of freezer you have, breast milk can be kept frozen for three to six months. The fat may separate from the liquid, so gently shaking the bottle will recombine your milk. Also, your breast milk may have a blue tint to it. This is normal.
Freeze breast milk in small amounts, such as between 2-4 ounces. This is so you can defrost only the amount you need and because it helps to reduce defrosting time. Breast milk should be used within 24 hours of defrosting.
How to defrost frozen breast milk
I defrosted the milk by putting the frozen breast milk container into a coffee mug with warm water, changing the water when it got cold until the milk was thawed. I usually was able to defrost a bottle within about five minutes with this method. Gently tap the bag to help the fats mix back into the milk. Never use the microwave, and don’t use very hot water, as heat destroys some of the nutrients in breast milk. Breast milk can also be thawed overnight in the fridge.
Always use a first in, first out rule when using the frozen breast milk, and take care to not use any milk that has been frozen too long. Use the oldest milk first, and toss any that has gone past the safe storage mark.
Tips for Successful Breast Pumping
CDC- Proper Storage and Handling of Breast Milk
Great Beginnings- How to Collect, Store and Freeze Breast Milk