Does Breast Milk Separate When Refrigerated

Refrigerated breastmilk is maybe the most common storage method that mothers prefer to use all over the world. If you are tempted to try this storage method, you should understand as much about it as possible. However, does breast milk separate when refrigerated?

The main goal is to conserve the milk in the best condition while you are storing it so that your baby gets the most nutrients out of it.

One of the most essential aspects, when you refrigerate breastmilk, is knowing if it changes its structure by separating into different layers.


Does breast milk separate when refrigerated?

Breastmilk will separate into two layers if you let it sit in the fridge for more than 30 minutes.

This will be one layer of fat that rises on top of the milk and the rest of the milk that remains in the bottle.

Breast Milk Fat Layer

You will notice that the layer of fat that rises on the surface of the breastmilk will look different.

  • Sometimes it will be a thicker layer while other times, it might be very thin. This is not an indicator of the quality of the milk.
  • Variations depend on many factors, such as how long you stored the milk.
  • The more you let the milk sit in the fridge, the thicker this layer might be. It can also depend on your diet.
  • If you eat a diet rich in fruits and veggies but poor in fats that come from meat, this fat layer might be thinner as well.
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Shake/Swirl the bottle

It is important to shake or swirl the bottle before feeding it to your baby.

  • You want to mix this layer of fat back into the rest of the milk, so your baby gets all the nutrition from it.
  • If the fat layer doesn’t mix right, it might be an indicator that the milk went bad, and you shouldn’t use it anymore.
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Breast Milk Nutrition Level

Keep in mind that these two layers of milk don’t give any hints regarding the nutrition level of your breastmilk.

  • You might not even notice the layer of fat, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
  • Sometimes this layer, even if it is thick, might have a similar color with the rest of the milk, which makes it hard to observe.
  • Other times, it will be a lighter or darker shade of yellow or white. There are no set-in-stone rules when it comes to breastmilk.
  • All women are different, and so is their breastmilk. But as long as you store the milk in hygienic conditions and at the right temperatures, you shouldn’t have any concerns about it!
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Does Breast Milk Separate When Refrigerated? 1

Refrigerated breastmilk can stay good for anywhere between 4 and 8 days. The longer you keep it in the fridge, the easier it will be to notice the fat layer that rises on top of it.

Make sure to not add any warm milk over cold milk. Bring both containers of milk at a similar temperature before combining them.

Storing your breastmilk in the fridge can help you plan for future meals in advance and cut off the stress that comes along with breastfeeding.

Does Breast Milk Separate When Refrigerated? 1

Key References

  • “The Macronutrients in Human Milk Change after Storage in Various Containers – ScienceDirect”. Accessed February 19, 2020. Link.


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