Crying Over Spoiled Milk

Abigail Walston

Posted By: Abigail Walston

I'm returning to work as a teacher in September. I'm not a big fan of pumping and my son has rarely used bottles so I know that going back to work is going to be a big adjustment for both of us.

After realizing I was a little short on expressed breast milk, I decided to grab some milk out of the frozen stash. I was looking to thaw about three ounces, so I picked through the bags in the freezer. I suddenly realized that all of the expressed milk in my freezer was over six months old.

I’ve been using freshly expressed milk since I went back to work in September. Somehow, I never thought about rotating my reserves. I could have thawed milk from my stash to send with Joshua and frozen my freshly expressed milk. But I didn’t do that, and now it’s too late.

Both La Leche League International and the CDC guidelines for storing breast milk indicate that after six months in the freezer, the quality of the milk is reduced. I choose to err on the side of caution and not use expressed breast milk that has been frozen for more than six months, but I’m pretty annoyed with myself for forgetting. I’m frustrated about all time I spent expressing milk over the summer, which is now wasted time and wasted milk. I didn’t have a huge freezer stash, but now I have none.

So what can I do about it now? I’m expressing just enough milk for Joshua each day and there’s nothing left over to freeze. I’m hoping for no more wasted milk going down the drain. The good news is that Joshua will have his first birthday in just over a month, at which point I’ll be able to give him some cow’s milk if I haven’t expressed enough breast milk. I’ll probably begin to mix my own milk with cow’s milk after his first birthday and gradually decrease pumping until he’s taking all cow’s milk when we are separated. I just hope there aren’t any major milk disasters before he turns one!

I’ll be comfortable transitioning away from expressed milk to cow’s milk because Joshua still nurses frequently when we’re together and multiple times throughout the night. He’ll still have plenty of opportunities to get the good stuff from me.

Working mommas: At what point did you stop expressing milk, and what did you give in its place?

11:30am on Monday March 28


11:53am on Monday April 4

Did you thaw a couple bags to see if it was actually bad? I don't think there's a magic switch that triggers at 6 months, 1 day. (I'd feel comfortable using frozen milk that was 9mos old or more if it was immediately frozen in a deep-freeze and thawed OK).

Heather Dingman
2:11pm on Thursday March 31

I had about 2 months worth of breast milk saved in my freezer in my fridge and I put it in a bag and asked my husband to put it out in our deep freeze when he went outside (he was on his way out.) Well, I was very upset the next morning when I found the whole bag still sitting where I had left it when I woke up. I was very angry because it felt like such a waste of time and effort on my part! It turns out that my daughter never would have used that milk anyways. She has never taken a bottle yet and she is now 10 mos old. I am trying to get her to use a cup or a sippy cup so she can have cows milk when I go back to work. She really just likes my nipples and nothing else it seems!

Heather Bloechle
1:58pm on Thursday March 31

Our freezer stopped working shortly after I returned to work. We hadn't noticed until it was too late! Not only did we lose hundreds in food, I lost approximately 2 months worth of frozen breastmilk. My son was only 3 months old and I was not ready to stop or supplement with formula. I was devastated. I worked full time and had to double up my pumping; I used fenugreek supplements and nursing mother's tea to increase my supply. I stopped nursing when my son was 15 months old and started him off with rice milk before giving cow's milk. I think it was a good transition, but now I guard my supply like a hawk for my 6 week old!

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