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How Do You Know When Your Breast Milk Has Gone Bad?

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Whether you are breastfeeding straight from the boob or feeding your baby breast milk from a bottle, there will likely come a time when you will need to store your extra milk. And, even after following proper storage guidelines, it's possible for the breast milk to spoil. Yeah, not good. And unlike milk form a bottle, you don't want to play fast and loose with your baby's nourishment. Which leads to the question, how do you know when your breast milk has gone bad?

The rule of thumb with any suspect food item is that if you’re ever in doubt, throw it out. The same applies to breast milk, which can be heartbreaking for a new mom who is running low on sleep and sanity. As any breastfeeding mom will tell you, stored breast milk is invaluable to a mom who has to go back to work or when she needs to leave the baby in someone else's care. It's also important to have a supply of expressed milk so that your partner can take turns feeding and bonding with the baby.

By following the storage duration guidelines for fresh human milk found on the Centers for Disease Control's website, you can easily extend the life of your breast milk and keep it safe for baby. But if they day comes when you're questioning the freshness of your supply, here are some ways you can check to make sure your stored breast milk hasn't gone bad.

1. Check The Date On The Container

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Always write the date on the storage container and count forward from there. As the CDC notes, breast milk will stay fresh in a deep freezer six to 12 months, in a regular freezer for three to six months, and a freezer compartment inside the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If your milk's been in there even a day too long, toss it.

Forget to put the milk in the fridge? The CDC guidelines state that room temperature breast milk  is good for as long as six to eight hours.

2. Smell The Breast Milk

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GlobalPost warned that spoiled breast milk will have a rancid or sour smell and should not be consumed. Breast milk can also smell soapy due to fat breaking down during storage. Breastfeeding Today notes that it is still safe for baby to consume the milk when this happens, according to Nancy Mohrbacher IBCLC, FILCA, author of Working and Breastfeeding Made Simple.

Although it is still safe to drink, Mohrbacher warns that babies may reject the soapy-tasting milk, and recommends that moms freeze a small batch to test out before storing a large supply that will have to be discarded.

3. Taste The Breast Milk

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According to GlobalPost, fresh breast milk tastes sweet. Milk that tastes sour is spoiled and should be thrown out. Like with the smell, if the milk tastes soapy, it should still be safe to consume. Always use your best judgment, and remember: when in doubt, throw it out.