How to build a milk stash.
Note that this post was written a couple of months ago! I’m currently now breastfeeding my son Grayson who was born August 9th, 2019!
Since I had been exclusively pumping for 18 months, I’ve deemed myself a pro! I remember how nerve wracking it was to become a new mom and learn everything about breastfeeding. I was so worried I thought about building a reference binder! I wish I was kidding… Once I gave birth to Lucas we tried to breastfeed and it sadly just didn’t work out for us. I saw a lactation consultant, I checked to see if Lucas was tongue tied but it just hurt and ultimately I gave up and turned to my double electric pump by Medela called the Freestyle.
When I started pumping I was already over producing while trying to breast feed and found myself engorged and so uncomfortable. When I started to pump it was because I was making SO much breast milk I could feed twin babies! So this forced me to start building a freezer stash. We purchased a “small” deep freeze and I would fill it within a month of frozen breast milk. At one point I had 1020oz of breast milk in my freezer! I started to donate to a local mama who couldn’t produce milk and donated to her for a couple of months until I went on vacation and my supply dipped momentarily but at this point my son was drinking up to 35-40oz daily. He’s also a tank for his age.
Now, on to the good stuff. How to start your own milk stash! Note that the amount of milk I was putting away daily was approx 12 oz, but now I am putting 6oz away every other day as I am slowly declining my time with the pump. I only pump twice a day now and leave a big cap of time in between (15 hours). These tips to build your stash are small guidelines. :)
WHEN TO START
When to start pumping really depends on how long your maternity leave is. Give yourself about a month to build your stash, unless you would like one to have some YOU time with your girl friends or a night away from babe.
GET ON A PUMPING SCHEDULE
Once I started pumping, I knew I wanted to build a small freezer stash. I put myself on somewhat of a schedule. Originally I was breastfeeding Lucas, but only until he was 8 weeks old. I got mastitis really bad and wasn’t winning the latch battle. So I became an exclusive pumper! I would pump 3 times a day sometimes 4 depending. That being said, I had an over supply & was donating to another family in need like I stated above. :)
HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED
In theory, you only need enough milk for one day of work (your first day back), but I would aim to get at least three days’ worth to be on the safe side. The idea is that you’ll pump for the second day of work while you’re at work on the first day. We all know this is going to be a stressful, chaotic day back to work, so alleviate some of the pressure and pump at least a few days worth of milk prior to returning to work. Math time! Babies eat up to 30 ounces per day. Divide that by how many times a day your baby eats (usually 7 – 9 times a day for a 2-3 month old so we’re looking at approximately 3 – 4 ounces per feeding. Then, look at how many times your baby typically eats during work hours. Multiple that number of feedings by the number of ounces your baby eats per feeding. Now multiply that by 3 (or however many days’ worth you’d like to have in your freezer ahead of time). That’s how much milk you need to get started! If you are like me and still going strong by the time your wee one is a toddler, you will only have to send about 20 oz of milk with them to daycare.
KEEPING UP AND RESTOCKING YOUR FREEZER STASH
Make sure you are pumping for every missed feeding while at work. If your baby eats every three hours, you should pump every three hours. Always pump from both sides to maximize your pumping session. Continue to pump on the weekends to stay ahead. I know that every mama’s mat leave is different so this could be for you if your baby is still months old. I however had to pump at work for a bout a week to make my supply go back up once I lost a pregnancy back in November because my supply had dipped so i wasn’t make enough to have a freezer stash and I’m a little crazy about make enough milk for Lucas… Well, I was.. Not so much anymore as I am trying to wean!
TIPS FOR FREEZING YOUR PUMPED MILK
Freeze Flat – Lay your milk bags flat to freeze. It’s a huge space saver and makes milk easier to pack up for daycare or a babysitter. Try laying them in an empty wipe container to make sure they freeze perfectly flat.
Date and Label – Always date and label your milk bags with your child’s name and the quantity of milk. Store in the milk in your freezer from oldest to newest. Remembering the write your childs name on the bag is great if you need to send it to daycare or over the grandma’s OR if you have more than one little baby!
TIPS FOR PUMPING AT WORK
Try to Relax – Pumping at work can be extremely uncomfortable. Being stressed is going to make it harder for you to have a letdown and probably reduce the amount of milk you’re able to pump overall. My best advice is to keep a picture or video of your baby nearby to help you relax and help your brain tell your boobies that it’s time to make milk! Ask your manager for a quiet space or if you can use the first aid room!
Pump from both Sides – This probably a no brainer, but always try to pump from both sides while you’re at work. It’s going to save a ton of time. Yes, busting out both boobies makes things a lot less discreet, but it’s worth it to save time, get back to work quicker, and get the most milk from your pumping session.
Storage – I always used little cooler to store my milk in at work, Medela makes the perfect one. Its discreet enough that no one knows your hiding tiny human food in there. This is especially helpful if the only place to store your milk is the communal break room fridge. It holds up to four bottles (5 ounces each) and has an ice pack inside that fits around the bottles perfectly, making sure there is no milk spilling or spoiling on the way home.
Refridgerate your Pump Parts between Sessions – We all know it’s a pain in the butt to wash pump parts after every use, but those parts can also grow bacteria like crazy. A great way to skip the washing while you’re busy at working is to throw the pump parts into a Ziplock bag and put them in the refrigerator between pumping sessions. This leaves them safe to use for your next session. Just make sure to wash them at the end of the day. I would recommend getting an extra set of pump parts in case you leave them at work or just plain don’t feel like washing them one day (trust me… it happens).
Have a Manual Pump on Hand – You never know where the work day might take you. Perhaps you travel a lot, have a meeting out of the office, or can’t make it to a private place with an outlet. Enter the manual pump! This thing was a life saver for me on many occasions (at work and otherwise). Not only do you want to make sure you’re not missing sessions so you can keep your supply up and replenish your freezer stash, you also want to be comfortable. Any breastfeeding mom will tell you that going too long between pumping sessions can be downright painful. Even if you just use the manual pump to relieve yourself a bit, this little thing is worth the investment.
Being a breastfeeding or exclusively pumping and working mom isn’t easy and its a huge accomplishment be able to do either, let alone both. I hope these tips help you build your freezer stash.