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Breastmilk is touted as being ‘liquid gold’ that can seemingly do no wrong. But can breastmilk be reheated twice? It’s so valuable, so if your baby doesn’t get to drink it before it cools, can you warm it back up again?
You can only reheat breastmilk once. When you reheat it, the bacteria can increase and make the milk unsafe. The nutritional value of the milk may also be diminished. Once you have reheated breastmilk for the first time, dispose of unused breastmilk after 2 hours.
Being a parent is one of the most rewarding things and also one of the most stressful, particularly when it comes to all the advice you get given every day. Here’s the low down on safety around reheating breastmilk.
Reheating Breastmilk More Than Once: Is It Safe?
You’ve reheated some breastmilk and your little one doesn’t end up finishing it. What then? Should you leave the bottle on the side for your full baby to finish later?
The answer to this is a firm no. in order to keep your child safe, it is very important to throw out any wasted breastmilk as this would not be safe for them to consume in the future.
Once you heat up that milk for your baby, that should be the only time they touch their milk. Whether or not they choose to finish the bottle is down to them.
Of course, you cannot force them to finish it and this can be a pain as that means a bottle wasted, however it is not worth risking your baby’s health for the benefit of yourself.
What Happens If You Reheat Breastmilk?
Although there is no hard evidence or data, it is much safer to not take the risk when it comes to the health and safety of your baby.
Loss Of Nutrition
It is known that with any milk, once it has been reheated it loses plenty of nutrients which can benefit the baby. Without the nutrients, your baby will not be gaining any health benefits from the breastmilk and have an impact on the baby’s growth and development.
Another major consequence of reheating breastmilk is the formation of bacteria. Babies naturally have a lot of saliva and that saliva will be resting on that half-drunken bottle.
There is a high risk of that saliva becoming contaminated with bacteria so it is better to avoid the chances of allowing your child to resume drinking.
Expressing breastmilk is a term used to indicate the process of squeezing breastmilk from the female breast. There are a number of reasons a mother chooses to express milk:
- They and their partner are both involved in feeding the baby breastmilk (from both nipple and bottle).
- They are going away and need to stock up for family member/babysitter/friend.
- Their breasts feel uncomfortable and the breastmilk needs to be released.
There are many women out there who choose to express milk for their own reasons, and they can do this in two ways. They can either use a breast pump (electric or manual) or express using their hands.
It is important to make sure that your hands are clean when expressing the milk by hand, and to make sure that the pump and container are cleaned too. This is to prevent any contamination and to protect your baby from any germs and bacteria.
Once a mother has expressed her breastmilk, it is very important for them to put this in a cool environment instantly. The mother has the choice of either the fridge or the freezer.
- Refrigerator – For this option, it is important to keep the breastmilk at the back of the fridge and not on the refrigerator door. This is to keep it as cool as possible and to stop any potential warm air coming into contact. Refrigerated breastmilk can last up to 4 days.
- Freezer – Some choose to keep their breastmilk in the freezer. It is recommended to keep this in the freezer for no longer that 6 months, however 12 months is doable if necessary. There are no exceptions when it comes to refreezing already thawed breastmilk.
The refrigerator and freezer are options for those storing long term and in bulk, however you may find that you are wanting to express milk for short term reasons.
If this is the case, you are able to leave breastmilk out on the counter at room temperature but for no longer than 4 hours. Any longer is dangerous for the baby to drink.
Tips For Storing Breastmilk
- Always label your bottles – It is essential to label all of your bottles of expressed milk; on the label should be written the date it was expressed. By doing this, it will help you to remember when it was expressed and prevent any risks of giving your baby out of date milk.
- Do not place bottle in refrigerator door – Make sure to have your milk in the fridge and not in its door. Refrigerator doors are constantly being opened and closed and as this happens this is affecting the temperature. In order to ensure the milk temperature is regulated, avoid the door at all costs.
- Don’t be afraid to move from fridge to freezer – There may be a scenario where you have put your milk in the refrigerator just to find out it won’t be used within the 4 day period. If this happens, do not be afraid to place this milk in the freezer within these 4 days. Do this as soon as possible.
The most important thing to consider when it comes to breastfeeding is the health of the baby. Although there is the option of feeding straight from the nipple, there are many mothers out there who choose to express their milk and bottle feed.
It is very important to make sure that you do this in the safest way possible – this means no reheating more than twice, correct storage and staying sanitary. As long as these steps are taking you will be feeding a happy and healthy baby.