Breast milk is called "white blood" for a reason; it's a living substance with antibodies and nutrients that constantly change to fit your baby's needs. When you pump and freeze your breast milk, the majority of those nutrients stay intact, but the way you thaw your breast milk has a big impact on the quality of your milk after it's been frozen. There are a few great (and a few not so great) ways to thaw frozen breast milk that do all of the above and ensure that it reaches the perfect temperature for your baby — not too hot and not too cold.
Of course, pumping requires a lot more organization and forethought than exclusive breastfeeding, but with a little extra effort, your baby will get all of the nutrients of breast milk.
There's nothing worse than putting so much time and energy into pumping only to realize the milk you've set out to thaw on the counter isn't useable, or that you shouldn't have thrown it in the microwave after all. Learning a little bit more about the proper storage, thawing, and warming of breast milk will save you (and your boobs and baby) from the unnecessary heartache of wasted milk.
1Do Thaw In The Refrigerator Overnight
According to Medela, thawing your milk in the fridge overnight is the best way to safely thaw it while maintaining the nutrients originally in the milk.
2Don't Use The Microwave
La Leche League International (LLLI) cautioned against heating your milk in the microwave or on the stovetop as it can cause the milk to heat unevenly and potentially burn the baby.
3Do Hold The Bag Under Warm Water
Most sources recommend holding the bag of frozen milk under cool water and then gradually increasing the temperature until it's the proper temperature. LLLI suggested placing it in a bowl of warm water and replacing the water until the milk reaches room temperature if you're concerned about wasting water.
4Don't Thaw In Boiling Water
If you're looking for a quick method, putting your milk into boiling water isn't the answer. According to Breastfeeding Place, boiling your breast milk will destroy the essential antibodies and run the risk of overheating it, just like microwaving.
5Don't Let The Milk Sit At Room Temperature
According to Very Well, letting your milk sit out runs the risk of it spoiling, so it's best to let it thaw in warm water, or in the fridge.