Heading back to work soon and wondering what the best way is to build a breast milk freezer stash? In search of all the best pumping and storage tips to help you get the most out of your milk?
As your maternity leave quickly comes to an end, you’re probably getting nervous about having enough milk for your baby while you’re away. So, how can you fill your freezer to assure that you won’t run out of milk?
In this post we’ll cover all the best tips and tricks to help you easily build a breast milk freezer stash.
5 Smart Tips for Building a Breast Milk Freezer Stash
Use these 5 easy tips to help you quickly build your breast milk freezer stash.
1. You Don't Need a Huge Stash
Many moms tend to get fixated on building a massive stash of breast milk. But in reality, you really just a couple days worth of milk in your freezer at a time.
When you’re away from your baby, just pump when your baby would normally be nursing.
The point of a freezer stash is to have extra milk on hand for times when you’re supply might be low. For instance, if you’re sick, super stressed out, or about to be on your period.
Your stash will also come in handy for when your baby is going through growth spurts and may want more milk than usual.
2. Take Advantage of the Haakaa
The Haakaa is an awesome tool that you can start using as soon as you bring your baby home. You’ll quickly be able to start building your stash.
While your baby nurses from one side, you can use your Haakaa on the other boob to collect your letdown and leaked milk that would have otherwise been wasted. So, you’re really not pumping, you’re just “catching milk.”
I was a huge leaker with both my babies, and I so wish they would have had this product when I had my first.
I’d recommend getting the Gen. 2 Haakaa with a stopper and suction bottom, as it will save you from spilled milk.
3. Pump After Your First Morning Feed
When you’re a few weeks from heading back to work, it’s a good idea to start pumping once a day, after your first morning feed. This is when your milk supply is at its highest, so you should have the best results then.
I’d go ahead and use your electric pump and empty both breasts for this.
You really don’t need to pump anymore then that while your baby is still exclusively nursing. Unless of course, you don’t respond to the pump that well. In that case, you could try these tips to help you increase your pumping output.
Remember that how much milk you get while pumping isn’t always a good indicator of supply. Babies are much more efficient than a pump.
You don’t want to pump too much, because this can create an oversupply, which actually isn’t a good thing and can cause a whole range of other issues, such as persistent engorgement, recurring clogged ducts, mastitis, and fore-milk/hind-milk imbalance. It can also cause you to have an overactive letdown, which may lead to your baby refusing the breast, having signs of acid reflux, and just being super fussy and gassy.
4. Lay Your Bags Flat
To maximize your freezer space, be sure to lay your bags flat when first placing them in the freezer. After they’ve frozen, many moms like to store them upright in an old 12 can soda box. You can also use any long container or box you can find.
If you’re like me and prefer the benefits of glass over plastic, then you can always use 4 or 8 oz. mason jars with storage lids. LifeFactory bottles with caps work great as well. Just remember to not fill them completely up to the top, because the expanded milk could cause them to burst in your freezer.
5. Don't Forget to Label
Don’t forget to label your bags and/or jars before putting them in the freezer. You’ll want to write how many ounces there are, the date, and your baby’s name if they’ll be going to daycare.
This will help you know if your milk is still good or not and easily be able to pull out how much you think you’ll need.
Small bags are nice to have for night time feeds and for when your baby is going through a growth spurt and is still hungry after their regular 3 or 4 oz. bottle.
Remember that breast milk is only good in the freezer for up to 6 months. Though, it can last up to a year in a deep freezer.
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As You're Going Through Your Stash...
Now, as you’re going through your stash, you’ll want to be sure to follow these tips to get the most out of your milk.
- Pull from the back: Be sure to pull the latest date possible when going through your milk. This will help prevent much of your milk from going spoiled. You may just want to always place the most recent bag pumped at the back of your storage bin.
- Be sure you’re thawing properly: It’s essential that you’re following proper thawing techniques when warming up breast milk for your baby. Be sure to never heat your milk in the microwave and always use thawed milk within 24 hours of placing it in the fridge. Never re-freeze breast milk once thawed.
- Pump when your baby would be feeding: While you’re away from your baby, remember to pump when your baby would normally be nursing. This will help you keep up with your baby’s demands and keep your freezer stash from diminishing.
- Utilize old breast milk: If you have milk that has gone beyond the recommended storage guidelines, then be sure not to just toss it. You can always use it for milk baths!
- Be sure to use paced bottle feeding: One of the best tips I can give you is to make sure that all care providers are familiar with and using paced bottle feeding with your baby. It’s very easy to overfeed a breastfed baby when bottle feeding, as breast milk is highly digestible and babies don’t have to work nearly as hard when eating from a bottle compared to a boob. Paced bottle feeding helps prevent overfeeding and protects your stash from quickly being depleted. Here’s a good video on the technique to share with your baby’s care takers:
To Sum It Up...
You may be getting nervous about not having enough milk for your baby while you’re away, but rest assured, you really don’t need a massive stash in your freezer. You really just need a few days worth of milk to make it through times when your supply may be running low, such as when you’re sick or about to be on your period.
You can quickly start building a stash by collecting your leaks and letdowns with a Haakaa. When you’re getting closer to returning to work, start pumping once a day after your first morning feeds.
Maximize your freezer space by lying your bags flat at first, and remember to always label with the date, ounces, and your baby’s name.
Building a freezer stash is really quite easy with these 5 simple steps.
Did You Find This Helpful?
Did these tips help you easily build your freezer stash? Share your best pumping and storage tips in the comments below and be sure to share this post with other nursing mamas.