“Shaken, not stirred”? Apparently not for expressed breast milk, which should be stirred and not shaken! Who knew?
Delicate handling is important for keeping your expressed breast milk in tip top condition. Swirling the milk gently is considered to be the optimal way to ensure you mix the proteins and fats in the milk.
Expressed Breast milk is amazing, containing living cells and filled with essential fats and proteins in the perfect blend for your baby. Rough handling may damage the delicate living cells contained within the milk, and after you’ve taken the time and dedication to express your breast milk for your baby, by treating the milk gently it will help to keep it in its original expressed form. Proteins contained within the milk are also left intact. These intact proteins help to protect the lining your baby’s gut, so it’s important that they are treated well. When breast milk is shaken, this can denature the living proteins contained within the milk, and they can become broken into parts.
As Linda J Smith (founder of Bright Future Lactation Resource Centre Ltd) explains:
“Imagine a set of beads assembled into a necklace or bracelet. When the beads are acting as a bracelet or necklace, they are doing their job as protective elements. When you break apart the beads, you have in your hand many individual chunks of amino acids which are then digested.
Cellular components are also susceptible to damage by physical stress. After all, they are living cells.
With mother’s milk, you get at least two functions for the price of one. With manufactured formula, you only get the individual beads, never the necklace or bracelet. And never the living cells.”
So, if you have expressed your breast milk for your partner or a carer to feed to your baby, let them know by gently swirling the milk to mix the fats and proteins, instead of shaking your expressed milk, will help to keep the milk in optimal condition.