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HOW TO USE STORED BREAST MILK (Guide for Nigerian Nursing Mothers)

Courtesy of Keerati at
Your breast milk is a unique gift only you can give to your baby. It is the normal food for your growing baby. Breastfeeding also protects your baby from illness and infection. Even a small amount of breastmilk provides important nutrition and health protection for your baby.
Almost every week, I see many Nigerian nursing mothers preparing their expressed breast milk for use in ways that seem great but unhealthy for the baby. In this post, you will discover the right way to heat expressed breast milk and still preserve its nutritional values. You will also discover the wrong ways of warming breast milk, and why you should stop practicing them or not even try them. Read on.

So, what is the right way to store breast milk?

Once you take out breast milk stored in the fridge, you should not use it right away. First heat or thaw (defrost) it, to make it comfortably warm for your baby. But there’s a right and wrong way to warm breast milk. In case you don’t know how to store expressed breast milk, click here to learn how.

How To Defrost or Warm Expressed Breast Milk

Doctor’s advice you label breast milk and ensure you use oldest milk stored. You can do so by following the below steps to defrosting frozen breast milk.

If the milk is frozen, defrost/ thaw it overnight by taking it out of the freezer a night before – and putting it in the fridge area or your refrigerator. In the morning, the milk would be in liquid form.
Once you’re ready to use the milk, take the milk bottle out of the freezer and use any of the following methods to heat your breast milk before feeding your baby:
  • Method 1 - USING HOT TAP: Turn on hot water nozzle of your tap and hold the milk bottle under the  warm running water.
  • Method 2 - IMMERSING MILK CONTAINER IN WARM WATER: Boil some water and put into a bigger bowl or cup, and then dip the milk bottle in the warm water.

The Don’ts and Wrong Ways of Warming Breast Milk

  • Never heat breast milk to a boiling point – either on the stove, cooker, microwave or anywhere at all. Simply “warm” (not boil) breast milk.
  • Avoid heating breast milk in a microwave or oven. I see many nursing mothers using the ‘thaw’ setting on their microwave to heat their baby’s milk. This is wrong and unhealthy, according to Paediatric health experts.
  • After defrosting thawing frozen milk, it should not be frozen. It is safe to store defrosted breast milk in the fridge within the next 24 hours.
  • Expressed breast milk does not require special handling or storage in order to be safe. Simply putting/ storing it in a tightly closed container, expressed breast milk is safe when stored in any type of fridge, whether at your home, at your workplace, your baby’s crèche /day-care centre (according to the US Centre for Disease Control).
  • Throw away any remainder: do not refreeze
  • You could use an electric bottle warmer to defrost breast milk.
  • Do not shake or stir the defrosted milk before feeding your baby. All you need do is swirl the breast milk gently to mix separated fat.

Related Topics: 

How To Store And Preserve Breast Milk Safely For Later Use: (Guide for Nursing Mothers in Nigeria)

Safety Note: When Using Stored Expressed Breast Milk

Now, you could have several bottles of stored expressed breast milk in your fridge, and may just feel like picking any one to feed your baby when s/he starts crying hungry. But not so fast, follow these steps:
  • Check for the dates on the breast milk containers in your fridge
  • Pick the milk with the oldest date – that’s the one to use first.


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