Transitional breast milk provides nutrition to the baby in the first few days of life. After birth, breasts produce colostrum, a yellowish and thick liquid rich in nutrients. Later, colostrum is replaced with transitional breast milk, which is more plentiful than colostrum milk. Transitional milk is effective for approximately two weeks following birth (1).
Interim, transitional, and mature milk are the three stages of breast milk. In the first two days of breastfeeding, your breast produces colostrum, Transitional milk is the milk produced after colostrum, and mature milk is the baby’s long-term nutritional supply. Keep reading this post to know more about transitional breast milk and more.
When Does The Transitional Breast Milk Phase Begin?
The second phase of milk or transitional milk is produced approximately two to five days after your baby’s birth (2). As the breast begins to produce milk, you may notice a fuller and firmer breast.
How Does Transitional Breast Milk Look Like?
The transitional milk has a creamy consistency and is usually bluish-white in color (3). Transitional milk that follows colostrum may be slightly yellow in color before turning to a shade of blue-white. The color of the milk could become whiter as your breasts begin to produce mature milk.
How Much Transitional Breast Milk Does Your Body Make?
There is no fixed quantity of transitional milk, and it could vary from one mother to another. A study noted that mothers could produce approximately 500 grams per day of transitional milk from day five since the baby’s birth. However, it may not be the same for all women. Nevertheless, the volume of transitional milk produced is higher than colostrum (4).
Nutritional Value Of Transitional Breast Milk
Transitional milk contains more calories than colostrum, which contains a high concentration of protein and antibodies. The amount of protein and antibodies in transitional milk decreases slightly as milk composition changes from colostrum to transitional milk, but the amount of fat, sugar, and calories increases, benefiting your baby during the developmental phase.
Breast milk typically contains several bioactive molecules that protect against inflammation and infections. However, the milk subjected to heat treatment or freeze-thaw cycles may not contain the same bioactive molecules as before (5).
Can You Store Transitional Milk?
Yes, you can store transitional milk. When it comes to storing transitional milk, it is always better to adhere to CDC guidelines to maintain the safety and quality of the expressed or pumped milk. The storage guideline is applicable for all the stages of milk (6).
There are various sources that provide information on how long breast milk can be stored at room temperature, in the refrigerator, and the freezer. Before beginning the process, it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor or a lactation counselor (5).
Breast Engorgement During the Transitional Milk Phase
Breast engorgement occurs when the breast produces too much milk, causing the breast to become hard, swollen, and painful. Breast engorgement is a common experience that a breastfeeding mother can go through, especially during the transitional breast milk phase.
The breast produces only a small amount of colostrum milk at first, and the transitional milk suddenly flows in during the transitional milk phase, causing breast engorgement. A sudden change in feeding schedule, such as skipping a feed or pumping session, can also result in breast engorgement (7).
It is critical that you breastfeed your baby every two to three hours to ensure an easy and trouble-free supply. If you have any questions about breast milk or breastfeeding, please speak with your doctor or a lactation consultant.
2. Transitional Milk and Mature Milk; Healthy Children; American Academy of Pediatrics
3. The Phases of Breast Milk; WIC Breastfeeding Support; U.S. Department of Agriculture
4. M C Neville et al.,Studies in human lactation: milk volumes in lactating women during the onset of lactation and full lactation; The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1988)
5. O Ballard and A L. Morrow; Human Milk Composition: Nutrients and Bioactive Factors; Pediatric Clinics of North America (2014)
6. Proper Storage and Preparation of Breast Milk; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
7. Engorgement; WIC Breastfeeding Support; U. S. Department of Agriculture