The breastfeeding experts at La Leche League International urge you to take good care of the breast milk you pump or hand-express. Think of it as a fresh, living substance – not just food. How you store it will affect how well its nutritional and anti-infective qualities are preserved.
Consider these helpful tips from La Leche:
• Human milk may separate into a milk layer and a cream layer when stored. This is normal. Shake it gently to redistribute the cream before giving it to your baby.
• Thaw and heat human milk with care. Just as freezing destroys some of the immune properties of the milk, high temperatures can also affect many of the beneficial properties of the milk.
• Frozen milk: Containers should be thawed under cool running water. Gradually increase the temperature of the water to heat the milk to feeding temperature. Or immerse the container in a pan of water that has been heated on the stove. Take the milk out and reheat the water if necessary. The milk itself should not be heated directly on the stove.
• Refrigerated milk: Warm the milk under running water for several minutes. Or immerse the container in a pan of water that has been heated on the stove. Do not heat the milk directly on the stove.
Do not use a microwave oven to heat human milk.