There is always one question that anyone who pumps breast milk will ask at some point or another.
Can I refreeze my breast milk?
And the answer is…maybe!
If you have breast milk that is partially defrosted, you can definitely refreeze it for later. If there’s even just a few ice crystals left, it’s generally acceptable to refreeze for later use.
This is a situation some people encounter if they’ve discovered their freezer has gotten unplugged or the power went out, and they find a freezer full of partially defrosted milk.
It is important to note that if your baby has drank from the milk – it should NOT be refrozen (even if it happened to have ice crystals in it still when you fed it to them). Breast milk that has been drank from should generally be used within about two hours.
Have you ever wondered if you could refreeze your breast milk? In this post, you’ll learn what the research says so you can make an informed decision.
As any mom will tell you, pumping your breast milk is hard work. Oftentimes, you may get milk
Refreezing breast milk is not advised. Once you’ve defrosted breast milk or formula, you should never refreeze it. Some older reports suggested that refrozen thawed breast milk was okay but most experts now agree that there isn’t enough research to support this view and they, therefore, say it’s best to use defrosted breast milk within 24 hours.
“Using thawed milk: Once frozen milk is brought to room temperature, its ability to inhibit bacterial growth is lessened, especially by 24 hours after thawing.52 Previously frozen human milk that has been thawed for 24 hours should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.44 (IIB) 7. Refreezing: There is little information on refreezing thawed human milk. Bacterial growth and loss of antibacterial activity in thawed milk will vary depending on the technique of milk thawing, duration of the thaw, and the amount of bacteria in the milk at the time of expression. At this time no recommendations can be made on the refreezing of thawed human milk.”
So, unfortunately, there really just isn’t a lot of research that has been done on this topic (much like that of whether or not it’s okay to mix together cold and warm breast milk). However, since the CDC and ABM do not recommend this practice, I would tell you not to efreeze your breast milk
With this said, if there are ANY ice crystals left in the milk bag, you can refreeze the breast milk.
The CDC states, “Frozen breast milk that has started to thaw but still contains ice crystals can be refrozen.”
So if you see ice crystals, throw that bag back in the fridge!
No one ever wants to waste any drops of breast milk, but there are times where it might be necessary to discard of the milk to make sure your baby is being fed milk that is as safe as possible. This is one of those situations
- Place frozen bag of breast milk in the refrigerator to defrost
- As soon as enough of it has defrosted to pour into a bottle, pour that milk into the bottle, and then, ensuring it is still slushy – you can refreeze it.
- If the bag has been damage, you need to make sure you pour it into a new storage container.
For more information on breast milk storage, check out our article on breast milk storage guidelines. You can also print out the FREE printable below for handy reference in the future.
More Articles You May Enjoy:
- How to Hand Express Breast Milk – and the Amazing Reasons Why All Moms Should Know How to!
- How Much Breast Milk in a Bottle – Baby Milk Intake Calculator
- High Lipase Breast Milk: Why Your Breast Milk Tastes Gross (and What You Can Do)
Katie Clark is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.