By Jacque Ordner BSN, RN, IBCLC, RLC
Pumping can be time consuming and difficult for so many mothers. In our opinion, anything we can do to make it easier is a must! That’s where the Pitcher Method comes in.
What is the Pitcher Method? The Pitcher Method is a general name given to the method of collecting pumped milk from several pumping sessions throughout the day into one container and then using that milk to prepare the next day’s bottles.
What are the benefits? One of the major benefits of using the Pitcher Method is that it can save valuable time and space! Pumping into one set of collection bottles, then transferring directly into the pitcher means less bottles to wash and less bottles to store in the refrigerator. You can also easily fill bottles, for the next day, with the desired amount for each feeding or divide milk up for freezer storage. Using the pitcher method can also eliminate worry over dating separate bottles and remembering to get them in the freezer in time if they’re not used. This can be especially helpful for moms who make more milk than their babies typically eat.
How to get started with the Pitcher Method: The first step is to collect the needed supplies. You’ll need a pitcher or other container made of food grade plastic or glass that is large enough to store the milk you pump in a day. Pro tip: glass Mason jars can work well for this method as the fat doesn’t tend to stick to the glass quite as much as it does to plastic. You can even find half gallon Mason jars! Once you’re ready to collect your milk, add the yield from your first session to the pitcher and store it in the refrigerator. At your next pumping session, cool your collected milk in the refrigerator then add it to the pitcher along with your previously collected milk. Continue this process at the next pumping session and so on. Once you’ve collected milk for the day (or other specified time), you can then pour it from the collection pitcher into bottles for the next day’s feedings or separate it into appropriately sized portions for freezing.
Are there any drawbacks? It’s important to cool freshly pumped milk before adding it to previously cooled milk, so keep that step in mind! There is a study that suggests that newborn’s circadian rhythms are affected by breastmilk. This implies some correlation to the time of day milk is expressed and its effect on newborn sleep patterns. It’s important to note that this study did not investigate expressed milk, but rather looked at directly breastfed infants and formula fed infants. In our opinion, this evidence is not strong enough to warrant extra stress over making sure baby receives milk collected at night for night-time feedings or milk collected in the morning for morning feedings, etc. No need to complicate things, mamas!
Is the Pitcher Method right for you? We hope we’ve given you enough information to help answer that question! We’re all for anything that makes pumping just a little bit easier! If you have questions about pumping and storing milk, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org You can even schedule a free pumping consultation with one of our IBCLCs here.
Cubero J;Valero V;Sánchez J;Rivero M;Parvez H;Rodríguez AB;Barriga C;. (n.d.). The Circadian Rhythm of Tryptophan in Breast Milk Affects the Rhythms of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin and Sleep in Newborn. Retrieved June 16, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16380706/