Shaken or swirled? There has been plenty of debate on whether or not shaking breastmilk will harm its nutritional value. However, the definitive answer has been revealed.
Both forms of blending breastmilk are completely safe. No research has proven that shaking breastmilk can lessen the nutritional value or cause any difference compared to swirled breastmilk.
Breastmilk has been shown to be more durable than originally thought and can withstand shaking, swirling, and stirring. Learn about the difference between each mixing method and why the adverse assumptions about shaking breastmilk have been proven false.
Table of Contents
- Shaking vs Swirling
- Shaking Breastmilk is Safe
- Why Should Breastmilk Be Mixed?
- How to Mix Thawed Breastmilk
- Debate Over
Shaking vs Swirling
While you may have been warned to not shake your breastmilk, there’s actually no cause for worry. When mixing breastmilk, all you need to be certain of is that the fats have been properly incorporated into the milk and that there’s no separation.
While swirling and shaking are equally safe for mixing breastmilk, it is warned that the air bubbles caused by both can affect babies prone to colic or gas. If your little one has experienced either, it’s recommended to lightly stir instead of shaking or swirling.
Another option to avoid air bubbles is allowing the breastmilk to sit for a minute or two and wait until they dissipate. Once the air bubbles have completely disappeared from the breastmilk, your baby can drink it without any worry of agitating digestion or colic.
Ultimately, shaking, swirling, and stirring are all equally safe options for mixing breastmilk and shouldn’t negatively impact your child if the milk has been properly collected.
Shaking Breastmilk is Safe
So, why was shaking considered a harmful method in the first place? Originally, people believed that shaking was too vigorous and could damage breastmilk’s proteins and other nutrients.
This was called “denaturing” breastmilk, where the proteins would lose their purpose after being broken while shaken. Although this is possible, it would take the same effort as whipping heavy cream or turning egg whites into meringue.
Clearly, you won’t be doing that when lightly shaking your breastmilk. Shaking and swirling cause the same amount of minimal stress to breastmilk that will not damage its nutritional value.
Similar to protein, the beneficial white blood cells in breastmilk are more durable than most assume. These white blood cells are exposed to continuous movement while traveling through the entire body. Additionally, these white blood cells can withstand the force and pressure required to extract the breastmilk from the mother’s breasts.
Why Should Breastmilk Be Mixed?
Breastmilk needs to be mixed in the first place because you’ll likely notice separation in the liquid. This is because breastmilk is all-natural and unprocessed. As a result, the fat in the breastmilk will float to the top.
If you want the full benefits of breastmilk for your baby, you’ll need to ensure that all the nutrients are properly mixed throughout the milk. Some of these remarkable health benefits include the reduced risk of the following:
- Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)
Safely providing breastmilk doesn’t only benefit your baby, but you too. Just by breastfeeding, you are protecting yourself against the following:
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- Postpartum depression
Back to shaking or swirling, just mixing the breastmilk ensures that the fat is properly re-incorporated into the milk and the nutrients are evenly dispersed. Whether you shake, swirl, or stir, as long as there is no visible separation, the breastmilk is safe for your baby to drink.
How to Mix Thawed Breastmilk
What about refrigerated or thawed breastmilk? Well, this requires just a few more steps. If your breastmilk has been thawed, it will be easier to properly mix if you place the bottle under warm water.
There are also bottle warmers you can purchase in order to make the breastmilk easier to mix with less shaking required. Bottle warmers for breastmilk come at varying price ranges and can easily fit into your budget. If you’re wondering about storage, here’s how long your breastmilk can be stored:
- Room temperature: Breastmilk can be safely stored at room temperature for up to four hours.
- Refrigerator: You can keep your breastmilk in the refrigerator for a maximum of three days before it goes bad.
- Freezer: For ultimate storage duration, using a freezer is the best option. You can freeze your breastmilk for up to six months.
If you want to prepare a thawed bottle for later in the day, you can simply run it under cool water until it’s properly thawed and ready to use. This process will also ensure that you won’t be shaking or swirling your breastmilk for long.
If after shaking or swirling you notice fat stuck inside the bottle, like the sides or bottom, try gently stirring with a spoon. Be sure to do so with care to avoid damaging the inside of the bottle and breaking any plastic or glass pieces.
The myth has been confirmed untrue: shaking breastmilk is not harmful to the milk’s nutritional components and health benefits. Be it shaking, swirling, or stirring, your breastmilk will withstand the movement.
Resilient and nutritious, the fat and white blood cells in breastmilk are able to withstand the suction of being removed from the breast and of course the light mixing process. As long as you’re not shaking with the same intensity as you would making whipped cream, your breastmilk will be more than acceptable for your baby.
Breastmilk must be mixed in whatever form in order to fully incorporate the nutrients and fat throughout the milk. Due to its lack of commercial processing, natural breastmilk will likely separate with fat floating to the top. That’s why shaking or swirling breastmilk is required.
When it comes to thawed breastmilk, more shaking may be needed to disperse the proteins. As a result, it’s recommended to warm the thawed bottles under warm water when using them immediately. If you want to confirm the least amount of shaking but use the bottle later, keep it under cool water to loosen the breastmilk.