Every mom knows that pumping breast milk for your baby is hard work. Oh! and LOTS of it! Almost everything comes to a standstill for you to effectively and safely pump that milk.
Often, as a mom, you are unable to breastfeed your little one with freshly pumped breast milk for various reasons. Freezing the milk is often an option you will consider for later use.
Imagine thawing your baby’s milk, only to find it with chunks and not as smooth as when it was pumped.
At this point, you may wonder if all your hard work has gone to waste, especially if you’re a first-time mom.
Before you pour that gritty milk down the drain, you need to know why thawed breast milk looks grainy what you should do about it.
Why Thawed Breast Milk Looks Grainy
Breast milk naturally separates in storage because it’s not homogenized.
The foremilk and hindmilk separate into a creamy layer (with fats and proteins) and a watery layer. The fat rises to the top and the water goes to the bottom.
When it thaws, it may take on a chunky or grainy consistency. Immediately, you might think you need to pour it down the drain but it’s completely normal for breast milk to change texture after freezing and thawing.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S National Library of Science, freezing breastmilk changes the physical appearance of its main components.
It ruptures the fat globule membranes and alters the casein micelles.
If you stored the breast milk correctly following all the recommended guidelines, it should be okay. However, to be safe, you will want to give your milk the smell test.
Sometimes, milk gets contaminated and separates. If the milk has a distinct sour odor, it has gone bad and should be discarded immediately. However, in most cases, you’ll find that the milk is just fine.
READ ALSO: Why Is My Breast Milk Foamy When Pumping?
What You Should Do With Gritty Looking Breast Milk
Now that we know that not all grainy breast milk is bad, what should you do about it? Not only do chunks in breast milk look unsightly for you to give your little one, but it also clogs the nipples of the bottle so feeding will be difficult.
Here’s how you can improve the consistency of your breast milk and make the chunks disappear, almost.
READ ALSO: Can You Overfeed a Breastfed Baby?
Warm and Swirl
Assuming your breast milk is thawed overnight in the refrigerator (highly recommended), you may need to warm it.
Simply mixing it with a spoon may not work. Warm the milk by putting the bottle in a container with warm water so that the chunks can dissolve. Then swirl the milk a bit to create a smooth consistency.
Shake the Bottle
You could try shaking the bottle gently so that the fat blends with the rest of the milk. Don’t be deterred by claims that shaking breast milk causes it to lose nutrients.
There’s no scientific evidence to prove that. If you shake too hard though, the air may cause gas in your baby so only shake for a few seconds.
Use a Blender
This should be a last resort as your blender may be multipurpose and you need to reduce the chances of bacterial contamination.
Put the milk in a clean container and use a sanitized immersion blender to give it a smooth consistency.
The best way to thaw frozen expressed breast milk is to place it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, warm the milk by holding the bottle in the kitchen sink under warm running water.
Alternatively, place the bottle in a bowl of warm water. Do not heat breast milk in a microwave because it causes loss of nutrients and hot spots which could burn your baby.
Avoid refreezing milk once it has been thawed as this may increase bacterial growth and cause further breakdown of nutrients.
Make sure your baby consumes the thawed milk within 24 hours maximum and toss the remaining milk.
It’s important to note that sometimes your thawed breast milk will be smooth without any chunks. There’s a higher chance of the breast milk going bad if it stays longer in the freezer.
Although you can store milk for up to six months, it’s advisable to use it as quickly as possible as this reduces the extent of graininess.