freezing breast milk

Rachel - posted on 03/26/2009 ( 7 moms have responded )




I'll be going back to work in about a month, when my son will be 6 months old, and am starting to think about the whole pumping business. One thing I'm wondering about is freezing the milk. I tried that with my daughter when she was nursing, but every time I thawed frozen milk, it smelled awful and I wound up throwing it out. It didn't make a difference what sort of container I used to freeze it. I never had a smell like that with milk that was just refrigerated, even if it was old, so it definitely wasn't normal spoilage.

At that time, my father-in-law said that the smell was to be expected because freezing changes the structure of proteins, and that it was overall a bad idea to freeze milk. But I know that lots of people do it. What have your experiences been with freezing milk? Has it worked out? Did your milk get that funny stink? Did your baby do ok with the thawed milk?


Tounine - posted on 03/27/2009




I freeze all the time, there is no reason you can't.  Mine changes color, becomes a little yellowish when it's frozen then thawed, but our pediatrician said that's normal.  And the babies have never had a problem from frozen milk.  I keep mine in a fridge during the day at work and then freeze it as soon as I get home.  I use Lansinoh breastmilk bags for freezing, but have used gerber and medela bags too.  They all work well.  Be sure to date the bags and use the oldest first, I try to use it within a month or two.  And try to squeeze as much air as possible out before freezing.  We never store them in the door, but we just keep them in our regular freezer, and I've thawed both in warm water or in the fridge.  If you're really worried talk to you OB or your pediatrician, they are there for you!!


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Anne - posted on 04/11/2009




I have had no problems freezing my milk.  I use lansinoh bags and squeeze the air out of them before I put it in the freezer.  Make sure it's at the back and the bags are well sealed.  I have had no problems after thawing and although it's not QUITE as good for baby as fresh stuff it's still better than formula when thawed and heated slowly.  Dont use a microwave as this destroys the enzymes in the milk.  Good luck!

Robin - posted on 04/04/2009




I have had the same issue.  I had already saved up about 50 bags of frozen milk during my maternity leave before I thawed any and realized the wierd smell.  After my initial freak-out that I'd spent all this time and energy pumping and storing only to end up with 50 bags of spoiled milk, I read about the lipase and breathed a huge sigh of relief that I could still safely use the milk.  My son didn't hesitate a bit with the frozen stuff.  Still, I usually mix about half thawed milk with half refrigerated milk from the previous day's pumping.

Jaime - posted on 04/01/2009




I spoke to a LC about this. She said in a regular freezer 6 months, deep freezer 1 year. Do what you feel comfortable with. The smell is most liekly from a higher amount of lipase in your milk. It will not harm your baby. If the baby doesn't like the smell, you can scald it (nstructions are in the previous post I belive) this will get rid of the smell. Try it out, because as you know, breast milk is the best, and you have come this far!

Laura - posted on 03/29/2009




I got this from La Leche League website. I am returning to work this wednesday and have frozen several bottles of milk in preparation. I'm hoping that they thaw ok and that my daughter doesn't have a problem with the milk! Otherwise, it'll be a nightmare at daycare! (I'm sending formula as backup just in case) However, I have pumped and refridgerated milk up to this point, and my daughter always did fine with it with no odors.

Storage Guidelines


All milk should be dated before storing. Storing milk in 2-4 ounce amounts may reduce waste. Refrigerated milk has more anti-infective properties than frozen milk. Cool fresh milk in the refrigerator before adding it to previously frozen milk.


Preferably, human milk should be refrigerated or chilled right after it is expressed. Acceptable guidelines for storing human milk are as follows. Store milk:


    * at room temperature (66-78°F, 19-26°C) for 4 hours (ideal), up to 6 hours (acceptable) (Some sources use 8 hours)

    * in a refrigerator (

Amanda - posted on 03/28/2009




I froze everything I pumped for 11 months, in BM storage bags, and my freezer ended up smelling like milk, but the milk was always fine. The most important thing, for me, was to make sure I got all the air out of the bags before I sealed them up. Oh, and it's also important how the milk is thawed.  It should be thawed in the fridge overnight or under warm running water.

Laura - posted on 03/26/2009




My husband and I bought a separate freezer just for my breastmilk! Everything I've read says to use or freeze within three days and to be sure it cools in the fridge first. I pump at work and store everything in a minifridge, bring it home, and pour the milk into freezer bags for breastmilk (I prefer First Years, but I've tried them all and they've done just fine). I usually put it into the regular freezer first and then transfer it to the stand-alone freezer in the basement, because the stand-alone is supposed to be colder. Then be sure to use the frozen milk within three months. Never let thawed milk sit for more than 24 hours, and you're not supposed to let it sit on the counter for more than an hour. That's what I've read and done through two children and have never had any problems with smell or color. Well, sometimes it sits on the counter for more than an hour, but never until it's fully thawed. I tend to put it in a bowl of warm/cool water as I eat breakfast and it's ready to go.

I have read that the milk of some women does have an odor or color, just the way their milk is. If you can, talk to a lactation consultant (although insurance probably doesn't cover it). Otherwise talk to your pediatrician or your OB and they might have some advice. Both of mine have been pretty helpful with breastfeeding questions.

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