The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has changed some of its recommendations for breast milk storage, particularly for pooling pumped milk that mothers extract during a 24-hour window.
In its previous recommendations, the experts said that breast milk with different temperatures must not be combined nor pooled in one container, making it more inconvenient for mothers who may have several portioned milk bottles in their refrigerator. The old guidelines have moms preparing, cleaning, and transferring breast milk using several containers during the day, depending on how much and how often they pump.
Freshly-pumped breast milk is usually warm because of the mother's body temperature. Thus, the APP previously recommended cooling it down before pooling. However, the new recommendations now state that mothers may pool warm and cold breast milk together for as long as batches are within a 24-hour window.
This new method is supposed to minimize the waste of fat or calories that happens each time breast milk is transferred to different containers.
"Mothers can mix warm milk and cold, or even consider pooling milk from 24 hours together, which may help even out variability in nutrients due to pumping time or breast emptying," the AAP stated.
Breast Milk Storage Using a Pitcher
Some mothers said they were not aware of the old guidelines, but the new recommendation makes better sense since all of the fatty compounds of breast milk will not go to waste. Other mothers revealed that they use the pitcher method for pumped breast milk so they won't have to do many transfers.
They put one large pitcher in the refrigerator, where they pool the expressed milk good for 24 hours. This process is more simplified, convenient for mothers with many supplies, and very safe for the babies.
In the past, the experts and breastfeeding moms shun mixing warm and cold breast milk because it could trigger bacterial growth. Mayo Clinic even recommends cooling the expressed milk using ice packs before adding to the chilled batches.
However, the AAP stated that breast milk is a "biologic substance full of probiotic and commensal bacteria." Instead of worrying about bacteria, mothers should focus on the cleanliness of the containers more than anything else.
More Safe Storage Tips
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breast milk in storage should be properly labeled with the pumping date. If it's meant to be delivered to the daycare center where the child attends classes, it should also have the child's name so it won't get mixed up with other babies' milk.
Mothers should not place stored breast milk on the fridge door since it's vulnerable to temperature changes. If a mother isn't using the breast milk within four days, it should be stored at the back of the freezer or refrigerator to maintain quality.
Mothers should know that the quality of stored breast milk can decrease over time, so they should apply the first in, first out policy and use the oldest supplies first. It's also not advisable to run breast milk under the microwave since this can deplete the nutrients and burn the baby's mouth.
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