Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to provide your baby with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. However, it’s not always possible or practical to breastfeed directly from the breast. For this reason, many mothers choose to pump and store their breast milk for later use. One popular method for storing breast milk is the pitcher method.
In this article, we’ll explore the pitcher method for breast milk storage, including its benefits, how to use it, safe storage guidelines for breast milk, how to tell if your breast milk has gone bad, and the pros and cons of this method.
What is the Pitcher Method for Storing Breast Milk?
The pitcher method is a form of pooled breast milk collection that involves storing all breast milk pumped over a 24-hour period in a single, refrigerated container. Once the full day’s milk supply is collected, moms can prepare bottles for the following day and freeze any remaining milk.
How to Use the Pitcher Method for Breast Milk Storage
Using the pitcher method for storing breast milk is simple. After each pumping session, you allow breast milk to cool and then pour it into a large pitcher that is stored in the refrigerator.
At the end of the day, you can pour your collected breast milk from the pitcher into bottles in preparation for the next day’s feedings. You can also pour breast milk from the pitcher into bottles for feeding as needed on the day after. The leftover breast milk (that doesn’t get poured into the bottles) is then labeled and frozen.
Pros and Cons of Pitcher Method
Here are the pros and cons of the pitcher method to help you make a conscious choice for your family:
- Saves space in your refrigerator: Since you are pouring breast milk into a pitcher or jar throughout the day, bottles aren’t accumulating in your fridge, leaving you more free space. This can be a great option if you don’t have a large supply of bottles.
- Simplifies feeding and storage: Filling bottles as you go can be easier than defrosting previously pumped milk, and you can also make sure that any extra breast milk is frozen as soon as you know you don’t need it.
- Helps keep the milk that’s fed to the baby more balanced: Some people with foremilk/hindmilk imbalance find that it helps keep the milk that’s fed to the baby more balanced.
- Risk of losing all stored breast milk: If your container is accidentally dropped or broken, you will lose all of the breast milk that you had stored in it.
- Sterilizing the pitcher may be challenging: Depending on its size and whether or not you have a dishwasher, sterilizing the pitcher may be challenging.
Safe Storage Guidelines for Breast Milk
It’s important to follow safe storage guidelines when storing your expressed breast milk. According to CDC guidelines, freshly expressed or pumped milk can be stored at room temperature (77°F or colder) for up to 4 hours, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, and in the freezer for about 6 months (up to 12 months is acceptable). Remember to always wash your hands before handling the expressed breast milk.
How Do I Know if My Breast Milk Has Gone Bad?
If you’ve stored your breast milk in the refrigerator or at room temperature, you can use the “sniff test” to determine if your breast milk has gone bad. If your breast milk smells rancid or like sour milk, it has probably gone bad.
In conclusion, using the pitcher method for breast milk storage can be a convenient way to save space and simplify feeding. It’s important to follow safe storage guidelines when using this method and to check your stored breast milk before feeding it to your baby. As with any parenting decision, weigh the pros and cons before deciding if this method is right for you.
We hope this article has provided you with valuable information about using the pitcher method for storing your expressed breast milk. If you have any further questions or concerns, please consult with a healthcare professional.
To find out more about breastfeeding, breast milk storage and other topics of interest to parents, be sure to download the Kinedu app!