The Complete Breast Milk Guide: Basics, Pumping, Storing, and Feeding

Before I had my baby, I had no idea that breastfeeding would dominate my life. I didn't read about it in advance and always felt like I was barely keeping up.

In this article, I'll share everything that I've learned, including breastmilk basics, how to pump it, store it, and prepare it for your baby.

Covered in this Guide (Quick Links)

1. Breastmilk Basics: Commonly Asked Questions
2. Creating a breastfeeding and pumping schedule
3. Pumping breast milk
4. Tips for pumping breastmilk at work
5. Taking care of your breastmilk pump and bottles
6. How to store breastmilk
7. Breastmilk storage guidelines
8. Freezing breastmilk
9. How do I fly/travel with breast milk?
10. Feeding your baby stored breastmilk
11. Reheating breastmilk
12. How to tell if your breastmilk is spoiled
13. When to stop breast feeding
14. Stress and Breastfeeding

Breastmilk Basics

First, let's go over some of the basic questions about breastmilk.

What's in breastmilk?

Your breastmilk production will change over time. Initially, your breasts produce colostrum. This is nutrient-dense and packed with antibodies.

Colostrum supports your little one’s immune system right after birth. After a few days of breastfeeding, your body starts making transitional milk as your mature milk starts to come in.

Mature milk nourishes your child for the rest of the time you'll be breastfeeding. Mature milk is mostly water with a balance composed of vitamins, fat, and lactose.[1]

What does breast milk taste like?

The taste of a mother's breastmilk will vary from woman to woman. The taste differs do to multiple factors including genetics, diet, time of day, and stage of milk creation.

For example, watery breast milk will have a different taste than thicker milk. Common descriptions for the taste include sweetness, nuttiness, and even a hint of vanilla.​

What does breast milk look like?

The short answer is that it depends on multiple factors. It can have different consistencies and colors. It can be thick or even watery at times.

The human body is amazing in that milk production will vary depending on your baby's needs. It's not just one texture, one color, and one consistency.

Breast milk color

What color should breastmilk be?

Breastmilk may come in a variety of colors. The color of breast milk varies due to the mother’s diet, medications, and other factors.

Various foods may cause yellow, green, or orange tints to breastmilk. You might experience green breast milk depending on your diet.

Clear Breast Milk

Breast milk can look clear when you first start to nurse your baby. Sometimes, breast milk looks watery too. This thinner milk has less fat and is called foremilk.

Blue Breast Milk

Why is my breast milk blue? Sometimes foremilk, or the milk that comes out when you first start nursing, can appear blue. This is normal.

Blood in breast milk

Bloody breast milk can cause a red or brown coloring to occur. Blood may appear in breastmilk due to conditions like cracked nipples. You should have yourself checked out if you suspect that there is blood in your breastmilk.[2]

Lipase in breast milk

Lipase is an enzyme that breaks down fats in your breast milk, making it easier for your baby to digest. If there's too much lipase in your ​breast milk, it can change the taste, causing your baby to refuse milk.

Does breastfeeding ruin your breasts?

Breastfeeding will not ruin your breasts. It will change them, but not ruin them. This is a common worry among mothers, so you're not alone.

When do breasts start producing milk?

Your body will start producing milk before you even give birth. ​It happens weeks or possibly months before the big day.

Don't worry about this as your body will take care of everything.

What does it feel like when milk comes in?

The most commonly described feeling is that your breasts will feel engorged. This usually occurs within the first 5 days; however, not all women will experience this.

How much breastmilk should I be producing?

Overall, how frequently and how long you pump will vary from woman to woman.

Some moms easily make enough milk with just a couple of pumping sessions a day. While that is the hope, do not feel bad if it does not work that way for you.

Some moms simply do not make that much milk or have a hard time with pumping. Additionally, some moms struggle to keep up with babies who eat frequently.

These moms may pump much more frequently or for longer periods. You may need to pump immediately after breastfeeding in addition to your other pumping sessions.

How much breastmilk at 2 weeks is normal?

Your body will ramp up breast milk production during the first few weeks.

A typical average you'll find online is to expect only about one ounce of breast milk on day 1. However, that will ramp up to 30 ounces typically by day 40.

At a couple of weeks, or around day 14, you'll be somewhere in between 1 and 30 ounces per day.

As long as you're continuing to breastfeed and pump, your body will continue to produce more. There is no ideal amount to be producing as there's many factors that contribute.

How long does it take for breastmilk to refill?

Your body will constantly be making breastmilk. Typically babies are better at sucking milk out vs a pump.

So even if you think "you're empty" after pumping, your baby will still probably be able to get milk.​ This shouldn't be a worry.

Is there enough fat in my breastmilk?

A common concern for new mommies is the amount of fat in their breastmilk. Check out this great guide on how to increase the fat content, if this is a concern.​

Does breast milk stain?

This question is one that most mothers know the answer to through experience. It does not take long to spill breastmilk.

You probably have a pile of clothes sitting in the laundry room that need to be cleaned because of dreaded breast milk stains. Here are some pointers to try to make this clean up as easy as possible:

Tips for removing breastmilk stains:

1. As soon as you can, soak the stained clothing in cold water.

2. Treat with pre-wash stain remover.

3. Use soft bristled brush to work stain remover in stain.

4. Wash in hot cycle

It is also important to take preventative action by keeping some burp cloths nearby.

What is prolactin? What does prolactin do?

Prolactin is one of the lactation hormones in your body. It is the hormone that stimulates milk production.​

Is it dangerous to smoke and drink while breastfeeding?

It's very wise to be cautious about what you put into your body while breastfeeding. Certain substances can be toxic for your little one. Check out this guide to find out the breastfeeding risks with smoking, alcohol, Xanax, and marijuana.

Breastfeeding and Pumping Schedule

Your breasts will respond to the demand you put on them. In essence, the more breastmilk demand that you create, the more breastmilk your body will produce. This is why having a great pump and breastfeed schedule is so important.

It's best to start a consistent schedule as soon as possible. This will allow your body to adapt to the demand you create, allowing you to pump and store enough breastmilk to meet your lifestyle needs.

For example, if you're working, have childcare, etc., following a good breast pumping schedule to be able to store breastmilk is invaluable, as it gives you lots of flexibility.​

When is the best time to pump breast milk?

The best time to pump will depend on your situation. However, lots of mommies say that pumping in the morning is the best time.

In addition, it's common advice to pump in between breastfeeding sessions, at least an hour before the next time you will be nursing.

Pumping Breast Milk

Breastfeeding and pumping breast milk can seem complex, but once you get the hang of it, it's easy.

Moreover, pumping allows you to manage and store your breastmilk. I can't emphasize enough how this can be a super-power.

It gives you so many options to make sure your baby is getting the best nourishment possible.

There are so many great products out there that make pumping and storing breastmilk much easier. These include breast pumps, breastmilk storage bags, bottles, bottle sanitizers, which we'll discuss throughout this article.

How to pump breast milk

If you're curious how to pump breastmilk, I highly recommend watching videos on youtube. Trying to read about it is very challenging, as it's one of those activities you need to see.

Here's a great video explaining breast pumping basics...​

Options for pumping breastmilk

There's really 3 options for pumping your breastmilk:

1. Hand expression of breastmilk
2. Manual Breastmilk Pump
3. ​Electric Breastmilk Pump

With these three options for breast pumping, the cheapest is manual expression (it's free!). The most expensive breastfeeding pump is electrical, but it's also the fastest and most efficient.​

You're going to be doing a lot of pumping (that's why you're here!), so manual expression is going to take a lot of time. Believe me, it's not worth it. It is a great backup though.

Manual expression is a great skill to have if you're away from your pump(s). However, I highly recommend investing the money in an electric pump. It will make your job so much easier and save a tremendous amount of time and frustration.

Also, having a manual pump as a backup is awesome. I know it seems expensive to have both, but it's worth the money. ​Or you could just use a manual pump.

When to start pumping

It's best to start pumping as soon as possible. This will allow you to build up a supply of stored breastmilk. It will also encourage your breasts to produce more milk, so it's a win-win! Pumping before birth is also possible.

Can I pump colostrum?

Yes, but it's highly advised to consult your doctor or nurse when giving birth about the best way to do this. It's best to breastfeed colostrum, however, there are options to ​pump colostrum as well.

How much milk should I be pumping?

So, how much should I be pumping on a regular basis? And how much milk should I be able to pump?

Wondering how much milk you should be pumping is a very common concern. It's only natural to worry if everything is working correctly.

The secret about breastmilk production is that it's based on demand. The more you demand of your breasts, the more they're going to produce. The key is accepting this and then "training" your breasts to produce what your baby needs.

To alleviate your concerns, check out this great blog post by Nancy about how much milk you should expect to pump.

Hand expression of breastmilk

There's a small learning curve to hand expressing milk. There's lots of videos on youtube that show you how, but keep in mind that it's a very slow process. It can be invaluable if you don't have a pump though.

You'll need a lot of patience to be effective at it. I highly recommend using a manual or electric pump instead.

How to increase breastmilk supply

Your breastmilk supply depends on a lot of variables. However, your body will produce more milk if you increase the demand through pumping.

A common misconception for new mommies is that they're not producing enough milk. It's easy to worry about having a low milk supply, and it's only natural to wonder how to increase milk production.

However, is your baby healthy and gaining weight? If so, then you're fine. Don't worry.

Breastmilk supply is one of those situations where you either use it or lose it. If you stop breastfeeding and pumping, your supply will decrease and dry up.

But, the more you pump, the more your body will continue to produce, even increasing your supply. If you get yourself in the habit of pumping more, your body will start producing more.

Can I pump while breastfeeding?

Yes! However, breastfeeding and pumping at the same time is an acquired skill.

The more you pump and breastfeed, the better you'll get at both. Don't try to do both at the same time as you're learning. Figure out both separately, then you can transition to doing both effortlessly.

Expert Tips for Pumping Breastmilk At Work

If you are working, your pumping schedule will be dictated by your work schedule.

You have to plan around your commute, work activities, and the availability of spaces to pump. This can be really stressful if you're breastfeeding and going back to work.

Even if you are not working, you may need to schedule pumping sessions around activities. It can be helpful to think through your pumping and breastfeeding schedule. Then, you can make sure you are prepared for the day or week ahead.

The following breast pumping tips will apply to most women that will be pumping at work:

1. Create a pumping schedule and routine

Figure out a schedule that works for you and communicate it to those that need to know. Enforce your schedule with others.

Try to set a daily schedule and stick to it. One pumping session often takes between 10 and 20 minutes of pumping plus time to set up and clean.

Let others know that you need some breaks during the day to feed your child. You may have an employer and coworkers that understand.

Do not feel bad about standing up for yourself. Many resources support you in setting a workplace pumping routine, including the United States Breastfeeding Committee website.

2. Relax. Find a good environment to pump

It's critical that you relax while pumping. Many people find pumping frustrating or uncomfortable. If that is true for you, it is important to find ways to make the process more pleasant.

You may want to look at pictures of your baby, listen to music, or watch some TV. You might settle in with a pillow or a comfy chair.

I found that I pumped best when I used a hands-free pumping bra and answered emails. Distraction was my tool for better pumping.

It's also great to have a pump bag for work, which you can have all of your stuff in. It makes it easy to keep it separate from work stuff and gives you some privacy if you need to go somewhere else to pump.

3. Hands-free pumping bras are amazing

Try a hands-free pumping bra. I loved my adjustable pumping bra. It was the easiest way to pump at work.

One of my friends made her own pumping bra by cutting slits in an old sports bra. She found this much more comfortable than any other pumping bra.

4. Try a manual pump

Consider using a manual pump. This type of pump will allow you to manually pump breast milk in situations in which you can't access your electric pump. My main pump was a double electric pump that I used at work and at home.

In addition, I had a manual pump that I kept in the car in case I forgot my electric pump. I also brought it with me when I went to unfamiliar locations. It's a great backup.

5. How often to pump at work

So, how often should i pump at work? It really depends. Overall, you want to figure out a good frequency for pumping at work that matches your unique circumstances.

Each woman will have a different need and will be in a different situation. Try to find a balance so that it isn't disrupting your ability to do your job, yet you're still pumping enough milk for your baby's needs.

Taking Care of Your Breastmilk Pump and Bottles

If you pump daily, your pump becomes like another limb. It needs some special care to make sure that it gets the job done.

Different parts of the pump should be cleaned in different ways. Here's some great guidelines [3]:

1. Electrical unit

The electrical unit should not be washed. Instead, you should regularly wipe it down with a clean cloth.

2. Tubes

The tubes connecting the electrical part to the part that touches the milk should not be washed. However, moisture can get in the tubes while pumping.

If left wet, the tubes become discolored or can accumulate mildew. Dry the tubes by letting the pump run for a few minutes with the tubes still connected. I usually let the pump run while I wash the rest of the pump.

3. Everything else

Anything that is exposed to breastmilk should be cleaned after each use. Hot, soapy water is the gold standard for cleaning your pump parts. Parts should be washed and rinsed in warm water and detergent then air-dried.

You need to wash your bottles and bottle nipples thoroughly. You can do this with warm, soapy water or in the dishwasher.

4. Don't use dishtowels

Dishtowels can harbor germs and should not be used. Alternatively, you can wash pump parts in the top rack of the dishwasher. You can purchase containers that are built to hold bottle and pump parts in the dishwasher.

You can buy microwave bags that will sanitize your pump parts. The FDA says these bags do not meet FDA standards for sterilization.

5. In a rush?

If you cannot wash your pump parts immediately, rinse them. Then, store them in a sealed bag in the refrigerator. Then, wash them in warm soapy water as soon as you are able.[4]

6. Watch for mold

Watch for mold or any other discolorations on the pump parts. They can be difficult to clean and may need to be replaced periodically.

How to Store Breast Milk

If you are pumping, you will also be storing breastmilk. Let's switch gears and talk about the ins and outs for how to store breastmilk.

Below, we'll discuss everything you need to properly store your breast milk and make it stay fresh and last.

Breast Milk Storage Options

There are a few types of containers for storing pumped milk. Let's discuss each one so that you can figure out which one is best for your situation.

Storage bags for breast milk

Storage bags are great for storing and freezing breastmilk. They can lay flat, allowing you store more efficiently in your freezer. You can also buy them in bulk. They're a must have if you plan on doing any serious freezing and storing.

Breastmilk bottles: glass vs plastic

There are two types of containers that can be used for storing breast milk. They are glass and hard-sided plastic.

Pros and Cons of Glass Containers

1. Glass containers are reusable so this makes them environmentally AND economically friendly.

2. Glass containers are stronger than plastic. Therefore, they are less likely to leak and spill.

3. Glass containers provide better protection against contamination.

4. They are awesome when it comes to long-term storage.

5. Unfortunately, with the high probability of glass breaking, they could be dangerous. If the glass shatters, the breast milk will be contaminated.

6. They are reusable, but that means more clean-up. This is not necessarily the best option for the busy mom.

7. Sadly, they are not always the best option for storage space. They do take up more room than storage bags.

8. They take longer to defrost, so they are a bit more time consuming.

Pros and Cons for Plastic Containers

1. Plastic containers cannot be reused. Therefore, they are not as beneficial for the environment or your pocket.

2. They CAN be directly connected to your breast pump. That leaves more time for other things, like kissing your little one, or taking a long shower.

3. Make sure if you are using plastic its BPA-free. BPA is a chemical found in certain plastics and is known to cause health concerns. Therefore, it is very important to buy plastic bottles that say BPA free. You would not want your little one consuming this chemical.

Additional tips on breastmilk containers

Whichever container you use, they should not be filled to the top. Leave at least one inch of space above your milk for expansion while it freezes.

In addition, using disposable liners is a no-no. They tend to be less durable and can leak. This could lead to contamination.

Damaged breastmilk containers

If a container storing fresh or frozen breastmilk becomes damaged, discard the container and the milk. You do not know whether the milk is still safe to drink.

It's not worth the risk to your baby, so throw it away.​

Breast milk storage trays

Storage trays are plastic trays with compartments to store breast milk in.

They make it a lot easier to store in smaller portions. In addition, you can defrost only what you need and not waste any of that precious life source.

Storage trays are convenient when it comes to storage space, as they can be stacked on top of each other.

Unfortunately, you cannot pump directly into the storage trays. However, they defrost a bit faster than other types of storage.

Whether you use plastic or glass, remember that labeling them properly is extremely important. You would not want your little one to drink spoiled milk. Make sure you appropriately write the date on the label.

If your child is in daycare, writing their name on the label is important so bottles are not mixed up. You can purchase a label maker to make your own.

Storing breast milk tip: date your breastmilk!

Write the date and time of pumping on all bottles or bags. This makes breastmilk management a breeze!

This will help you keep track of whether the milk is still good. When you use stored milk, use the oldest milk first. Just be sure it is within the suggested timeframe.

Breastmilk Storage Guidelines

Below are some cdc breastfeeding guidelines for using breastmilk stored at different temperatures:[5]

How long is breast milk good for?

1. On a countertop at room temperature – use within six to eight hours (max). Use within 4 hours to be on the conservative side.

2. In an insulated cooler bag with ice packs – store here up to twenty-four hours. Limit opening the cooler bag to keep the milk cold.

3. breast milk in fridge – store here up to five days in the back of the fridge

4. Freezer compartment of refrigerator – store here up to two weeks. However, some sources say frozen breast milk is good up to 1 month. It depends on your freezer and how often you open its door.

5. Freezer compartment of refrigerator with separate door – store here up to three to six months.

6. Chest or upright deep freezer – store here up to six to twelve months. This provides the longest breast milk shelf life.

7. For all freezers – store the milk toward the back of the freezer where it stays the coldest. The quality of the milk stored in the freezer may degrade over time.

Keep in mind that different organizations offer different guidelines. With so many breast milk storage guides, it's recommended to stay on the conservative side to keep your baby healthy.

La Leche League International recommends leaving breastmilk at room temperature for no longer than six hours. They state that milk may last up to eight days in the refrigerator but is best if used in less than seventy-two hours.[6]

How long can breast milk stay out?

So, how long can breast milk sit out at room temperature? If you leave breast milk out on the counter, it needs to be used within 4 hours.

The max time that it might still be safe is 6-8 hours, but be conservative so that your baby doesn't get sick.

How long can refrigerated breast milk sit out at room temp?

Since it's refrigerated, it can last longer on the counter than freshly expressed breast milk.

However, to prevent confusion, follow the same rules for fresh breast milk: aim for a max of 4 hours, knowing that even 6-8 max might be okay. Always be conservative so your baby doesn't get sick.

Can you re-refrigerate breast milk?

Yes, but only if it wasn't in a bottle and drunken from and it didn't sit out longer than the 4 hour rule.

If it was in a bottle and your baby drank out of it, then the "backwash" that got into the bottle will have bacteria in it. That bacteria just needs a little time to get to the point of not being good. So if baby drank from it, putting it back in the fridge is not recommended.

How long can breast milk stay in the fridge?

Breastmilk can last in the fridge up to 5 days max. Always store it in the back of the fridge where it's the coolest.

Freezing Breastmilk

If you freeze your breastmilk, here are several things you should keep in mind.

How to freeze breast milk

1. Freeze your breastmilk in relatively small portions (two to four ounces). This reduces the chances that you will waste milk.

2. Once frozen milk is thawed, it should be used within twenty-four hours.

3. Frozen breastmilk may separate when it thaws. If this happens, you should swirl it to mix the fat and liquid. Do not shake it.

4. Remember that frozen glass bottles could crack in hot water. Be very careful if freezing milk in glass bottles.

5. You should leave some room at the top of the container for expansion while freezing.

​6. Frozen breast milk smells funny sometimes. The most common frozen breast milk smell is described as "soapy." However, you should always check to make sure it's not sour. It will have a distinctly bad taste if it is.

Here's a great trick to try: cool your fresh breastmilk in the refrigerator before putting it in the freezer. This helps slow the decomposition of the enzyme Lipase that leads to the soapy smell if it's frozen immediately.​

What temperature does milk freeze?

Typically, breast milk will freeze around 31 degrees F, or around -0.5 deg C. So make sure your freezer has a set point below this temperature.

How long can you freeze breast milk?

It depends on your freezer and how often you open its door. If you have a freezer with a separate door in your fridge, you can freeze milk up to 3 to 6 months.

However, some sources say it's only good for 1 month in the freezer. Again, there's a lot of variability due to different freezer units and how often they are opened.

Can you refreeze breast milk?

Refreezing breast milk is not recommended. It should not be refrozen or saved for later use.

How much milk should I store?

This answer differs and depends on your child. Typically, 1 to 2.5 ounces in each container seems to be sufficient. Just make sure you are pumping and freezing as much your little one eats.

I am pumping at work, what do I do?

Storing milk at work can sometimes be a sticky situation. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of a few guidelines.

1. Make sure you appropriately label your containers. Write your name, the date, and that there is breast milk in the container. You would not want your milk being confused for milk to put in coffee.

2. Store your milk in the back of the fridge to make sure that it is out of the way of the regular milk.

3. If your journey home is longer than thirty minutes, transport it in a cooler with an ice pack.

My frozen breast milk smells soapy

A common complaint is that sometimes frozen breast milk will smell soapy.

This "frozen breast milk smell" a sign that there's a higher content of lipase in your breast milk, which is an enzyme that breaks down fat. It's still okay for your baby to drink; however, some babies will not like the taste.

If your baby won't drink it, you can mix that batch of milk with fresh milk to make the taste more enticing for your little one.​

Travel

So what do you do if you have fly somewhere with your baby and breast milk? Here's a complete guide on tsa rules and expert tips on taking breastmilk with you while flying.

Feeding Your Baby Stored Breastmilk

You know how to successfully pump your breast milk and store it safely. What's the best way to feed it to your baby?

Let's walk through everything you need to know.

Do I need to warm up my milk?

Your milk does not need to be warmed, although some moms like to take the chill out a bit.

Can babies drink cold breast milk?

Yes, you can give baby cold breast milk, as long as your baby likes it.

How to warm breast milk

When warming breast milk, thaw it under warm, running water first.

Make sure to swirl the milk before testing the temperature. Doing this allows the warmer milk to mix properly and redistributes the cream.

Tip: It's important that you do not shake it too hard as that could damage the live components in your milk.

Can I microwave breast milk?

Microwaving breast milk is a no-no. Never boil or microwave breast milk as doing so can harm or destroy some of the nutrients.

How long can warm breast milk stay out?

Fresh milk - Six to eight hours at room temperature

Help! My baby won't drink my breastmilk

There can be many reasons why your baby turns away your breastmilk. Common issues include a temperature they don't like (is it too hot or too cold?), being too tired to eat, or being upset. In addition, the amount of lipase might be high.

If it happens only occasionally, then there's nothing to worry about. However, if it's happening often, your baby might be experiencing a deeper issue. Check out this guide to learn more about aversion to eating and what to do about it.​

Reheating Breast Milk

No mommy wants to waste breastmilk. It's pure gold to your little one, so we want to preserve as much as possible. Let's talk about the ins and outs of reheating breast milk.

Can you reheat breast milk twice?

So, can breast milk be reheated? The basic rule of thumb is to limit how much heating you do, as heat can damage or destroy the nutrients in it. So, yes, but be conservative.

Can breastmilk be reheated more than once?

There is much controversy on how many times breastmilk can be re-heated. From what I have gathered, it can be reheated once after it has been thawed. The more it is heated, the more damage you do to the milk.

To be conservative, it's best to avoid reheated breastmilk.

My milk smells soapy, what is up with that?

When your milk smells soapy it means that there is a higher than average level of the enzyme lipase in your milk. Lipase is what breaks down the fat in milk.

This process can cause cooled or frozen milk to get that soapy smell to it. Do not be alarmed!

This does not necessary mean that your milk is spoiled. It might be safe for your baby to drink it. However, some babies will not drink milk that has a lot of lipase in it.

If this happens, try boiling the milk before you freeze it. This is not usually recommended, however, in this case deactivating the lipase and preventing the breakdown of fat is necessary.

You could also try mixing this soapy-smelling milk to fresh milk to try to dilute the taste for baby.

Can you microwave breastmilk?

Microwaving breast milk is a bad idea.

Breastmilk should never be microwaved or heated on the stove. Here's why: It can destroy nutrients in the breastmilk and may cause uneven heating that could burn your baby!

The best ways to thaw breastmilk are leaving it in the fridge, running it under warm water, or standing it in a bowl of warm water on the countertop.[7]

Can you mix breastmilk?

Recommendations vary on whether you can combine thawed and fresh breastmilk. The CDC recommends that you not mix the two. However, La Leche League says it is okay.[8] You should ask your doctor or a lactation consultant if you are concerned about this.

Can you mix breast milk from different days?

If you do decide to mix breastmilk from different pumping sessions, be smart about it.

For example, you should cool the fresh breastmilk to the same temperature as the stored milk before mixing it. In addition, you should then re-label the new mixture with the oldest date.

Sending breastmilk with your baby

If you are sending milk with the baby, put the child’s name on the bottle! You do not want it getting mixed up with someone else’s milk.

How to Tell if Breast Milk is Bad

So how do you know if your breastmilk is still good? Let's discuss the best ways for how to tell if you have bad breast milk.

How do I know if my breastmilk is spoiled?

First, understand that good breast milk does not really have a smell. If your breast milk smells sour or has a bad taste, it is spoiled.

Another sign of spoiled breastmilk is that it will not mix when swirled. Good breastmilk separates in layers but mixes when swirled. Sour breast milk can make your baby sick, so don't risk it.

Also, pay attention to how long it was in the fridge. If it was more than three days, it is probably spoiled. It is important to make sure to seal containers properly to assure that spoiling does not happen in that way.

What do I do if my baby drinks spoiled breast milk?

Do not worry too much; spoiled milk does not typically form foodborne illnesses.

It may induce vomiting, though. Make sure to seek medical attention immediately if your baby develops diarrhea, a fever, prolonged vomiting, or blood in their stool.

Breastfeeding food poisoning

Can you still breastfeed if you have food poisoning? Yes, you certainly can! Food poisoning cannot generally be passed to the baby. Your symptoms are confined to the gastrointestinal tract.

As hard it might be to breastfeed while you are feeling so crummy, it is important to try to stick to your normal feeding routine as much as possible.

You can use bottles made of glass or BPA-free plastic with tight-fitting caps. If you are planning to use glass bottles, Evenflo glass bottles screw right onto Medela pumps.

You can also use plastic bags that are specially made for storing breastmilk. Some women even freeze portions of breastmilk in special trays. Bottles and bags can be used in both the refrigerator and freezer.

Stopping Breastfeeding

At some point you will want to stop breastfeeding. There are many reasons why you when you might stop, and it can happen quickly or after a long period of weaning.

Using Formula

If you're curious how to change to formula or even how to formula feed and breast feed at the same time, check out this amazing guide.

Weaning

It's easier to wean slowly over a long time. This helps your body adjust to the reduced need for milk production. Sometimes, however, you will need to wean fairly quickly.

Weaning quickly can be uncomfortable. You may need to release some milk to prevent pain and avoid things like mastitis. However, the more milk you express, the more you tell your body to keep producing milk.

You can discuss weaning with a lactation consultant or doctor to figure out the method that is best for you.

Expert Tips for Stopping Breastmilk Production

When you choose to stop producing breastmilk, I highly recommend doing some research to avoid common mistakes. Check out this awesome guide with expert tips on how to dry up your milk.​

Below are several additional suggestions for how to help yourself slow and stop your milk production:[9]

1. If your breasts hurt, use cold instead of heat to relieve your discomfort. You might use bags of frozen peas. Others say to use cold cabbage leaves.

2. Wear a very supportive, firm bra. This can help to reduce stimulation of your breasts and provide support if you feel sore or swollen.

3. Wear breast pads in your bra and keep extra clean items with you, especially at work. You will probably leak if you quickly reduce the amount that you are pumping.

Stress and Breastfeeding

Like everything else in life, stress can affect breast feeding. Try to reduce any stressors as much as possible so that your body can make the best milk possible.

Breastfeeding is very personal. You and your doctor know what is best for you and your baby. That may not mean long-term, exclusive breastfeeding, so don't stress about it.

Whatever choices you make, stick to your guns. Do not worry about other people’s opinions. Above all, remember to take care of yourself! Eat, sleep, drink enough water, take your vitamins – whatever helps you feel good and healthy. Your baby will thank you for it.

Conclusion

In this guide, we discussed several breastmilk tips.

I hope this guide gave you some great insights and resources for becoming Super Mom!

Please take a moment to share this guide with others on social media!​ Just click one of the buttons below the References. It helps us be able to write more articles like this!

References

[1] “Transitional Milk and Mature Milk,” HealthyChildren.org, November 21, 2015

[2] “Unusual appearances of breastmilk,” Australian Breastfeeding Association, July 2013

[3] “Cleaning a Breast Pump,” FDA, September 4, 2013

[4] Ann Dempsey, “14 Ways to Hack Your Pumping Routine,” Breastfeeding USA, 2015

[5] “Proper Handling and Storage of Human Milk,” CDC, June 9, 2016

[6] “What are the LLLI guidelines for storing my pumped milk?” La Leche League International, July 8, 2014

[7] “Breast Milk Storage: Do’s and Don’ts,” Mayo Clinic, April 7, 2015

[8] “Proper Handling and Storage of Human Milk;” “What are the LLLI guidelines for storing my pumped milk?”; La Leche League International, July 8, 2014

[9] See Linda Smith, “Guidelines for Rapid Reduction of Milk Supply,” Bright Future Lactation Resource Centre, 1998; “Lactation suppression,” Australian Breastfeeding Association, December 2015

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