Freeze Dried Breast Milk

Freeze drying milk is not a new concept. Powdered milk, also called milk powder, dried milk, or dry milk, is a manufactured dairy product made by evaporating milk to dryness which can then later be reconstituted to the liquid form by adding water later. The first modern attempts at drying milk started as early as 1802 with specific processes for drying milk being created by 1837. Powdered milk is frequently used in the manufacturing of infant formula, confectionery such as chocolate and caramel candy, and in recipes for baked goods where adding liquid milk would make the final product too thin. During the 1960s, commercial infant formulas became popular, and by the mid-1970s they had all but replaced evaporated milk formulas as the "standard" for infant nutrition.

Typically when we think of breast milk storage, freezing in either a standard freezer or a deeper freezer have been the go-to for years. Milk that has been frozen correctly and stored in a deep freezer is optimal for about 6-9 months before the flavor begins to change. Newer guidelines are saying that frozen milk may still be good about a year in the freezer. But freeze-dried milk which can last from 3 to 20 years on the shelf! So the while the idea and concept of freeze dried breast milk isn’t new, it’s taking the market by storm with many new companies popping up in recent months. So let’s do a deep dive into the world of freeze dried breast milk, the pros and cons, and the expense. 


Sublimation is the fancy term for the freeze-drying process which basically means all the water has been removed from the breast milk and turns it into powder. Low temperatures are used for a long time in the drying process to ensure the nutrients in the milk are protected. Freeze drying is different than dehydrating, which uses very high heat and is relatively faster. With freeze drying, 'low and slow' is the name of the game to protect precious nutrients.

Here is the basics of a freeze-drying process:

  • Deep freezing: Milk is deep frozen in a chamber at temps below -40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Pressure dropping: Air inside the chamber is removed via a pump, which drops the pressure to create a vacuum. The low pressure turns the solid to gas. The vacuum pumps out the water particles.
  • Drying: Ice crystals inside the frozen breastmilk is vaporized by drying the milk with alternating warm and cold air (without thawing the breast milk) leaving behind a breastmilk powder
  • Packaging: The powder is sealed in special airtight bags or packages that protect against air, light, oxygen, and moisture. 
  • Since everyone’s breast milk is unique, the company will send you specific directions for reconstituting your milk for baby to drink. This is NOT like standard formula where 1 scoop gets 2oz of water. Each bag of powdered breast milk will need specific amounts of water unique to your milk. 
  • You should expect that however much milk you send will equal however much you receive back. If you send in 200oz of your breast milk, your powdered milk will make 200oz of breast milk when you’re ready to use it. 

Breast milk powder should be stored and prepared properly in order to prevent contamination with Cronobacter and other bacteria that can cause serious illness if safe handling guidelines are not followed.


  • To preserve milk for longer than it would last in the freezer, especially if it is going to expire soon
  • For the convenience factor
    • It’s easy to travel with or to ship to someone else
  • Can help with high lipase
    • While freeze-drying doesn’t reduce the amount of lipase in the milk, by removing the water it reduces the enzyme activity that breaks down breast milk which can make the taste and smell much milder. For some whose baby rejected pumped milk in bottles because of high lipase may have a higher chance of taking it freeze dried
  • For those who are doing elimination diets, this may preserve the milk longer for when your baby outgrows the allergy or intolerance so you can offer your milk later in your feeding journey
  • In cases where breast cancer has been identified and a mastectomy would be life saving, freeze drying milk can ensure future children conceived after mastectomy could still receive mother’s own milk
  • Can add some nutritional value to your older child’s meals by sprinkling it in purees or on solid foods, or even baking with it for the whole family
  • Could be an option for surrogates or donor milk
  • Saves space 


The big concern medical professionals have is that freeze-dried milk has not been widely studied. Yet. Most current health care providers will stick with AAP guidelines, CDC guidelines, FDA guidelines, and they have not released a formal statement on the safety and the efficacy of freeze-dried breast milk. But I would anticipate as it gains popularity and traction that eventually studies will be down on it. Without sufficient studies, it’s unclear if freeze-dried milk has the right protein, fat, carb ratio that infants need. We don’t know exactly how freeze-drying impacts the nutritional composition of breast milk. Some research suggests that breast milk's natural carbohydrate and protein content remains intact for up to six months after freeze-drying. But other studies report that freeze-drying may lower the amount of key antioxidants, like vitamin C, that are naturally present in breast milk. There really is a lack of evidence in terms of the nutritional safety of freeze-dried human milk at this current moment in time. Another concern is that freeze-dried milk does not undergo a pasteurization process which kills harmful bacteria. Pasteurization is avoided on purpose, in order to preserve the vital probiotics that are present in breast milk, and which would be destroyed with pasteurization. Just as bacteria can grow in freshly expressed milk if it is left at the right temperature for extended lengths of time, the same can happen with rehydrated breast milk powder. And there is room for error when making up bottles of freeze-dried milk. Each bag may require different amounts of water for rehydration, which means parents need to pay close attention to how they are preparing each bottle. Too much or too little water too often can lead to adverse effects in baby, like low sodium levels or not enough calories per feeding. 

Freeze drying breast milk is still a relatively new science when we are talking about using it for breast milk. Even though there are multiple new companies specializing in this, no matter what company you choose, it is going to be an investment. The cost to freeze dry your milk will vary based on the company you choose as well as the quantity of milk that you have.

Several companies will wait until they have your milk in hand before charging you. This way they know exactly how many ounces of milk there are! This is because we often aren’t accurate in our measurements of what we collect. The bag or the bottle lines can be inaccurate or we can tilt the bottle to see a different number than what’s actually there. Companies are very particular in measuring so that they can ensure proper ratios at the end too. They want to make sure they aren’t over or under charging you. Other companies may charge a flat rate or give you an estimate. Do your research but expect to pay several hundred dollars for your batch of milk!!

Freeze-drying human milk may still be an appealing option depending on your circumstances. If you are adamant about freeze-drying your milk, make sure to use a legitimate company with lots of reviews. And DON’T try it at home yourself as you're risking contamination.



  • Basics of Breastfeeding Support for the NICU or PICU Dyad. IABLE- Institute for the Advancement of Breastfeeding and Lactation Education
  • Blackshaw, K., Wu, J., Valtchev, P., Lau, E., Banati, R. B., Dehghani, F., & Schindeler, A. (2021). The Effects of Thermal Pasteurisation, Freeze-Drying, and Gamma-Irradiation on the Antibacterial Properties of Donor Human Milk. Foods (Basel, Switzerland), 10(9), 2077.
  • de Halleux, V., Pieltain, C., Senterre, T., Studzinski, F., Kessen, C., Rigo, V., & Rigo, J. (2019). Growth Benefits of Own Mother’s Milk in Preterm Infants Fed Daily Individualized Fortified Human Milk. Nutrients, 11(4), 772.
  • Ginglen JG, Butki N. Necrotizing Enterocolitis. [Updated 2022 Aug 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:
  • Jarzynka, S., Strom, K., Barbarska, O., Pawlikowska, E., Minkiewicz-Zochniak, A., Rosiak, E., Oledzka, G., & Wesolowska, A. (2021). Combination of High-Pressure Processing and Freeze-Drying as the Most Effective Techniques in Maintaining Biological Values and Microbiological Safety of Donor Milk. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(4), 2147.
  • Lima, H. K., Wagner-Gillespie, M., Perrin, M. T., & Fogleman, A. D. (2017, August 2). Bacteria and bioactivity in holder pasteurized and shelf-stable human milk products. OUP Academic.
  • Meredith-Dennis, L., Xu, G., Goonatilleke, E., Lebrilla, C. B., Underwood, M. A., & Smilowitz, J. T. (2018). Composition and Variation of Macronutrients, Immune Proteins, and Human Milk Oligosaccharides in Human Milk From Nonprofit and Commercial Milk Banks. Journal of human lactation : official journal of International Lactation Consultant Association, 34(1), 120–129.
  • Putting Evidence Into Practice: Freeze Dried Human Milk
  • Salcedo, J., Gormaz, M., López-Mendoza, M. C., Nogarotto, E., & Silvestre, D. (2015). Human milk bactericidal properties: effect of lyophilization and relation to maternal factors and milk components. Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition, 60(4), 527–532.


How long is my breast pump good for?


Your pump motor has a warranty for the number of hours it will provide strong suction for pumping. Each company has a different motor warranty for how long their pump will suck. Most pumps have a 2 year warranty for regular use (3-4 pumps a day while working a 5 day a week job) and this would get you through pumping while breastfeeding that baby. Each manufacturer should have this information on their website or in the pamphlet that came with your pump. The Spectra, one of my favorite pumps and very commonly used, has a motor life of approx 1500 hours with general use. For most, they find this pump will provide good suction for about 3-4 years. For Exclusive Pumpers (EP), many find the pump will wear out around 700-800 hours of use. If you only occasionally pumped with your first baby, you may find the pump works great for your second baby. You may also then get a different pump, like a portable or wearable. But if you pumped a lot, consider getting a new pump for each new baby born.

How long did you use your pump for before it wore out?

Used pumps are considered electronic waste. Disposal options include recycling through the manufacturer, or contacting your local recycling center or electronic recycling site to see if they will accept it.

#spectrabreastpump #spectra #breastpump #breastpumping #pumpingmom #pumpingmilk #pumpingtips #pumpprincess #breastmilkstorage #breastmilksupply


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How to use my Spectra Breast Pump: Maximizing settings, suction and cycle levels

Different stages of pumping require different pump settings. The wonderful thing about the Spectra pumps is their cycle variability.

Check out my video on YouTube for how to set and use the Spectra pump.

Colostrum is thick and sticky. Pumps are great for stimulating milk but they’re not the best at removing it from the breast and it can be very frustrating to pump and not see anything filling the bottles. Don’t be discouraged. Stimulation is super important in the early days after birth and the work will pay off. hand expression is the key to emptying colostrum when pumping. The pump will do a good job to stimulate your hormones to make milk and your hands will help empty it.

If you’re engorged or have an oversupply, you may need to pump to relieve the pressure in your breasts. Using the pump wisely can reduce your engorgment while not causing you to make too much milk and perpetuate your problem.

You can also pump to increase milk supply by pumping for an extra 5 minutes after milk stops flowing to signal to your body that it needs to produce more milk. If you’re breastfeeding and pumping after, aim for a 10-15 minute pump. If you’re exclusively pumping, shoot for a 30 minute pump.

Whether you’re pumping at work to maintain supply or trying to increase your supply, using the settings on the Spectra can help you reach your goals. Have you played around with your settings? What works for one person may not work for another. Try alternating back and forth between the settings and play around with the suction and cycle levels. If you need to have the suction cranked to the top, you’re most likely using too large of a flange.

Everyone responds differently to pumps. Play around the settings and cycles. What works for one person may not work for every person. Make sure your suction level is comfortable and you’re using the correct sized flange. If you have to crank the suction all the way up, you’re pumping with a flange that’s too large. Pumping should be comfortable. You should not have pain or damage from pumping. If you have any pain or damage, try a different range size, shape or cushion and try lowering the suction. If you’ve been pumping on a particular set of settings and start to notice a decrease in supply or suction, change the soft pieces of the pump like the duckbill or membranes and the tubing.

Forever milk

Did you know that you will ALWAYS be able to make milk? You’ve had the milk making glands in your breasts since puberty. They’re like little empty clusters of balloons at the back of the breast. Pregnancy activates your milk making hormones, allowing the glands to expand and start filling with milk between 16-20 weeks gestation. In the early days after birth, the more stimulation the breast has (from feeding or pumping), the more the milk making glands and their corresponding hormone receptors multiply. The milk balloons fill and empty milk multiple times per feeding.

After at least 40 days of not expressing any milk, once you completely wean, your milk making balloons deflate and become dormant, like before pregnancy. But they aren’t dead. Pregnancy and breastfeeding hormones caused a permanent change in your body. Your milk making glands will FOREVER remember how to make milk. They can ALWAYS make milk again, no matter how long it has been. They just need enough of the right stimulation to turn on and start filling again. Some times years after breastfeeding a mother may feel the tingle of let down if she hears a baby cry. Or she may leak if her partner does enough nipple stimulation. There are grandmothers in other cultures who bring back milk to breastfeed their grandchildren! Our bodies are AMAZING!! Now you know!

Fact of the Day: Milk Fat: Pump that heavy cream

Human milk changes in its composition throughout lactation as your baby grows and is constantly changing to meet the needs of the baby from the first few days of colostrum to beyond the baby’s second year. The composition of your milk can change  from day today especially as hormones ab and flow with your menstrual cycles. They can change during a given day  based on your stress levels, how often your baby feeds, and how well your baby MDs your breast. But did you know that the composition of your milk can also change during an individual feeding  and from breast to breast?!?!  As the baby eats, protein and fat content rise in the milk. There is actually 4 to 5 times more fat and 1 1/2 times more protein present at the end of the feeding than at the beginning. The baby may consume nearly 18% of their calories between minutes 11 and 16 of a feeding.  The fat content at the beginning of a feeding is around 1% milk fat. By the end of a 15 to 20 minute feeding, the fat content can be as high as 4 to 5%! By comparison, whole milk contains just 3.25 percent milk fat.  Fat content varies from mother to mother and from feeding to feeding. The amount of fat in breastmilk is dependent on the length of time between feedings, the degree of breast fullness, and the length of time the baby sucks at the breast. To put it simply, the emptier the breast, the higher the fat content. The fuller the breast, the lower the fat content. By trying to “stretch” a baby to scheduled feedings actually decreases the fat content in a mothers milk. It is always best to feed baby on demand.

Pumping Log : Storage

We’ve talked a bit about increasing milk supply and about pumping. So now that we have all this yummy milk, what are we going to do with it? Let’s talk about milk storage.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers ranges of time that milk can safely be left at for certain temperatures. Use this link to go directly to their website. But there is a simple rule that fits within these ranges and is easy to recall, even when you’ve had less sleep than a college kid in finals week. Just remember 5-5-5.

  • 5 hours at room temperature. If the room is very warm (more than 85 degrees F), 3-4 hours is a safer time range.
  • 5 days in the fridge (the back of the refrigerator is the best place to store your milk since it is the coldest.)
  • 5 months in a regular freezer (the separated compartment in a typical fridge/freezer unit) According to the CDC, milk frozen for longer than the recommended time ranges is safe, but may be lower in quality as some of the fats in the milk break down.

Other time ranges that don’t fit as neatly within the 5-5-5 rule, but are still helpful:

  • Human milk can be stored for 6-12 months in a chest or upright deep freezer.
  • Human milk can be safely stored with ice packs in insulated storage bags for up to 24 hours.

As part of my routine, if I work the next day, I put my milk into separate bottles and stick them in the fridge when I get home from work. That way my husband can feed them to my baby the next day while I’m at work. If the next day is a day off, I put my milk into disposable milk storage bags to stick in the freezer until the next time I work. The bags are labeled with the date they were pumped and always put in order from oldest to newest milk. This method saves going through a bunch of milk bags and saves both time and money. There are several brands of milk storage bags. I’ve found I really like the Dr Dudu bags. They’re larger size and with the double zipper I don’t need to worry about leaks in my lunch bag during the work day.

Milk from different pumping sessions/days may be combined in one container – use the date of the first milk expressed. I frequently pour all of my milk from one day of work into a larger bottle. This helps even out the calorie count and fat content since we know different pumping seasons yields different milk content. Avoid adding warm milk to a container of previously refrigerated or frozen milk – cool the new milk before combining. Breastmilk is not spoiled unless it smells really bad or tastes sour.

Safely Thawing Breast Milk

As time permits, thaw frozen breast milk by transferring it to the refrigerator for thawing or by swirling it in a bowl of warm water. You should avoid using a microwave oven to thaw or heat bottles of breast milk. Microwave ovens do not heat liquids evenly which could easily scald a baby or damage the milk. Bottles may explode if left in the microwave too long. Excess heat can also destroy the nutrients in your milk. It is recommended that you do not re-freeze breast milk once it has been thawed. Although I read on that if the milk had only been partially thawed and there are still ice crystals in it, you can safely refreeze the milk and thaw it on a later date.

When the fat in your milk separates in the fridge or freezer, make sure you swirl the milk to incorporate it back into a smooth, creamy mixture. Breast milk has living components in it which help protect your baby’s gut and promote digestion and immunity. Shaking breast milk actually denatured, or breaks down, the shaped molecules of the protective proteins, leaving them in pieces. Lactoferrin, lysozyme, and other protective components work their protection magic when they are in their original shaped molecular structure.

Other helpful website for breast milk storage