If I have too much breast milk already in the refrigerator and I do not want it to go to waste, can I then place it in the freezer even if it's been in the refrigerator for five days?
The La Leche League provides detailed information about breast milk storage recommendations.
They don't actually discuss freezing after refrigeration specifically. However, the time limit on refrigeration is the following:
72 hours (ideal) up to 8 days (acceptable if collected in a very clean, careful way)
Five days is right in the middle of that 3-8 days "if collected in a very clean, careful way" -- so the answer to
is five-day-old milk safe depends on how confident you are in your pumping hygiene.
Also consider carefully what type of freezer you will be using.
Freezer (compartment of refrigerator) 5° F (-15° C) 2 weeks Freezer (compartment of fridge, separate doors) 0° F (-18° C) 3 – 6 months Deep Freezer -4° F (-20° C) 6 – 12 months
Try to freeze things as soon as possible and once something is frozen DO NOT thaw it and try to refreeze it because bacteria will grow.
And here's a reference (short and easy to read) on freezing food: Freezing and Food Safety
This doesn't give you a set number of days and I was hard pressed to find one for breast milk.
A couple of ideas:
- Make sure you know what fresh breast milk tastes like and dispose of anything that tastes off.
- Use old milk from the fridge first. If there's yesterday's milk in the fridge, give baby a bottle and pump so you're now storing fresher milk.
- Don't panic, just freeze it. If there's a tiny chance this milk won't be used right away, just toss it in the freezer. If you're wrong you just have to thaw the milk. If you put it in the fridge and are wrong you may have to throw it away.