Claims breastmilk can become sour false, experts say
Childcare experts have urged new mums to disregard the claims that breastmilk can go sour if a new mother stops breastfeeding a newborn for some days.
The experts remarked that contrary to the popular myths, breast milk does not expire or go sour, hence there is no need to throw away the first burst of breastmilk expressed when a woman resumes breastfeeding.
According to the experts, a breastfeeding woman does not even need to do anything before resuming breastfeeding again after suspending it for some days, stressing that the milk is always healthy.
The experts, Consultant Paediatricians, Dr. Abdurrazzaq Alege and Dr. Ayodele Renner urged women to ignore the baseless fable that breast milk in the body expires when it has not been expressed for some days.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, Alege, who is a Consultant Paediatrician at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Katsina condemned the myth, noting that while it is still practised even in modern times by some women, there is no evidence to support it.
He said, “Breast milk can never become sour as long as it is inside the mother’s body. People indeed believe in the myth that after staying away from breastfeeding for a while, breastmilk is going to be stale but that is not true. There is nothing like that.
“The fact that the mother has not breastfed the child in a while does not mean that it is going to be stale.”
He further flayed the misconception some people have about the first breastmilk expressed by the mother.
Alege pointed out that some women throw away the first milk they express upon delivery under the notion that it is a collection of debris from the woman’s body due to how thick and yellow it is.
“It ought not to be so,” he said, adding that the first breastmilk expressed by the woman, known as the colostrum, is nutrient-dense and high in antibodies and antioxidants that newborn babies need to build their immune systems.
“The only thing a woman is supposed to do before breastfeeding the baby is to wash the breast,” he said.
Alege, however, said that there are limits to how fresh the breast milk can stay outside of the body.
Breastmilk that has been expressed and left in a container, Alege said, can stay up to six to eight hours at room temperature, adding that the one that has been stored in the fridge, can stay up to 24 hours while one stored in the freezer can stay for days.
Speaking in the same vein, Renner, who is a Lagos-based child care advocate said no matter the circumstance responsible for a woman to temporarily stop breastfeeding, the breastmilk cannot go sour.
According to Dr. Renner, this is because the body will just reabsorb the breastmilk, adding that when the woman restarts breastfeeding, the milk is as fresh as always.
He, however, pointed out that the only issue the woman may face when she restarts breastfeeding is breast engorgement.
Speaking via his official Instagram page, @thenoisynaijapaediatrician, Dr. Renner said, “If your milk supply is still flowing, you don’t need to throw away the initial milk. You can breastfeed immediately when you get back because breast milk is made fresh on the spot all the time no matter how long it has been.”
Also, according to a recent article posted online by the State of New Jersey Department of Health, as long as the woman’s body produces milk, it can’t spoil as “human milk is always fresh and cannot spoil in the breast.
“Also, this is because breastmilk is not a stagnant product of your body. Breast milk is a living organism, unlike cow milk.”