What Is The Best Way To Thaw Frozen Breastmilk?

What Is The Best Way To Thaw Frozen Breastmilk?

There are several reasons why a mother may express her breastmilk.

For example, she might have a premature baby, returned to work or be going out without her baby for a period of time.

When it comes to expressing, often many questions come with it such how to store expressed breastmilk (EBM), what sort of pump should be used or would hand expressing be a good option?

Another common question is, what is the best way to thaw frozen breastmilk?

Before this question is answered, the first thing to know is that fresh breastmilk is better than frozen breastmilk.

Remember that freshly expressed breastmilk can stay at room temperature (up to 26 degrees Celcius) for 6-8 hours.

So, if your baby is most likely to consume the EBM within this period, there’s no need to put it in the fridge or freezer and hence there’s no need to warm it up.

The other thing to know is that a baby may drink EBM cool, at room temperature or warmed. Your baby may demonstrate a preference.

How Should I Thaw Frozen Breastmilk?

When it comes to thawing EBM, it’s best to either do so:

#1: In the fridge overnight or for about 12 hours. Thawing EBM in this way will reduce the length of time needed to warm it up. This can be helpful if your baby likes to be fed without delay.

#2: By running it under, or placing it in a bowl of warm water. In order to help maintain as much of the nutritional and immunological properties of the EBM as possible, it helps to avoid overheating it. Hence, warming it in luke warm rather than hot water can help.

If you defrost EBM in the fridge, you may notice that it separates into two distinct layers – with the creamy or fatty layer on top. For this reason, you can gently swirl it to mix the layers together.

It has been suggested that shaking EBM, as opposed to swirling it, might cause proteins in it to ‘unfold’. This has not been tested scientifically however.

One way of defrosting EBM that should be avoided altogether is doing so in a microwave.

Don’t Use The Microwave To Thaw Or Warm Up Breastmilk

It’s important to not defrost or warm breastmilk in the microwave.

This is because the temperature is difficult to control and this can cause the breastmilk to heat unevenly which could result in scalding the baby.

Microwaving breastmilk also significantly reduces the anti-infective properties of breastmilk.

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Renee Kam IBCLC CONTRIBUTOR

Renee Kam is mother to Jessica and Lara, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a physiotherapist, author of 'The Newborn Baby Manual' and an Australian Breastfeeding Association Counsellor. In her spare time, Renee enjoys spending time with family and friends, horse riding, running and reading.


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