How to Build a Breast Milk Freezer Stash for Returning to Work

How to Build a Breast Milk Freezer Stash for Returning to Work - Local Organic Milk - Titty City Design

Estimated read time: 7 minutes

Breastfeeding is hard work mama.

When you’re nursing, it might seem like your little milk monster is never off your Boobies. But, that’s OK because you’re always together. And your Titties are always out!

But, what happens when you’re nursing and you need to go back to work?

You want to continue breastfeeding for as long as possible – or as long as you both want to – but you’re worried about feeding your baby when you’re not together all day.

This is where a breast milk freezer stash comes in. It’s a brilliant way to continue your breastfeeding journey and ensure your little one has more than enough of your magic milk when you’re not together. 

Feeling a bit overwhelmed about how to build a breast milk stash? Don’t worry Mama – we’ve got you!

Why have a breast milk freezer stash?

For one thing, having a good stash of milk in the freezer will help alleviate some of the stress you feel about going back to work. That stash will give you peace of mind, knowing your little one will have a bountiful supply of your milk until you’re together again. 

Sometimes, you forget to pump or you might leave your pumped milk in the office. Oh-oh! Cue the panic! But when you have a stash, you’ll always have a bit more wiggle room if your pumping doesn’t go as planned or if your babe is extra hungry and needs more milk, like NOW! 

You’ll feel calmer and less anxious if you know you can keep up with your baby’s feeding needs. So having that stash is super important for both you and your cute little babe.

But listen, mama. Even if your pumping efforts only produce a small amount of milk at a time, then it’s still totally doable to create a sizeable stash.

You don’t need to be producing hundreds of ounces at a time. And you can also keep up your supply when you go back to work by pumping and nursing as normal when you’re together. 

It’s all about using your breast milk freezer stash the right way, so you don’t sacrifice your supply.

How to use a breast milk freezer stash

Let’s look at the main purposes of a freezer stash.

Firstly, it’s to have enough milk for your baby when you’re apart for the day – or anytime you need to leave your little one. 

And secondly, for emergencies. Those times when your supply takes a dip because you’ve been sick, or because your supply might be low due to a lack of pumping and feeding. 

For both of these reasons, it’s good to have a stash on hand to take the stress away. 

The most important thing to remember is anytime you dip into your breast milk stash, you need to replace it by nursing so your body knows the demand is still high. And it needs to keep doing its job of supplying milk.

If your body doesn’t get the message that the supply is still needed, it’ll simply stop producing as much milk. Missing the odd feed or pumping session won’t have a major impact, but try as much as you can to replace any milk you remove from the freezer.

When you use milk from your stash, it shouldn’t be to replace a feed, because you’re still pumping or nursing to keep up your supply. 

So Mama. Nurse, pump, stash, and repeat.

Supplies for building a breast milk freezer stash

Before you get started, here’s a handy checklist of what you’ll need to build your stash:

  • A breast pump – there are so many different pumps on the market, so make sure you do your research before investing. If you plan on creating a big stash then it might be worth investing in a double breast pump
  • Sterilizer – it’s super important to properly clean and sterilize your pump after each use, so invest in a good sterilizer
  • Milk storage bags – you’ll need a tone of these to hold your milk once you’ve pumped
  • Haakaa/breast milk catcher – these clever pumps can be attached to the Boobie you’re not using to catch any milk that leaks out during a pumping or nursing session. You wouldn’t believe the amount of milk that can just trickle out without you realizing it. So, catch it and stash it!

There are other items you can get too, such as a pumping bra and milk storage bag organizers, but these aren’t essential. 

How to build a breast milk freezer stash when you're still nursing

You might be thinking, how can I pump enough milk when my baby is attached to my Boobs 24/7?!

Sounds like an impossible task, right?

Well, we’re here to say that you can do it. All it takes is a little planning and patience. Whether you’re exclusively pumping, pumping while you’re away from your babe, or any other reason, here’s how to do it.

    When should you start building your stash?

    Early is key, however, you might want to get the hang of breastfeeding and recovering from birth first. Those post-partum days are exhausting and you already have so much to get used to. 

    Waiting until you feel confident feeding is a good start.

    Use those first few weeks to enjoy your little one and let your body recover and rest. When you feel ready, you can start adding pumping into your routine.

    Plus, you could give yourself an oversupply, which could result in engorgement and clogged ducts. 

    If you’re returning to work and still nursing or exclusively pumping, the best thing to do is start building your breast milk stash a few weeks prior. Give yourself a little extra time to adjust if you’re only just meeting your baby’s feeding needs.

    Adding in extra pumping sessions will give your body lots of time to adjust.

    Don’t worry if you don’t see a lot of bang for your buck, to begin with. It can take a lot of time for your stash to build and your supply to build up to meet the new demand, so just keep going. This is another reason why it’s a good idea to start early.

    Morning pumps are key

    Once you’ve gotten into the swing of breastfeeding and your supply regulates (this can take up to 12 weeks after giving birth) you can start planning your pumping mission. 

    Your milk supply is usually at its highest earliest in the day, so this is the time you’ll naturally produce more milk. 

    After you’ve nursed your gorgeous babe, pump for about 20 minutes, even if only a few drops come out. This is a good way to get a few spare ounces, and it’ll tell your body to make more milk.

    You can also try pumping from the breast your baby isn’t feeding on if they normally just take milk from one breast at a time – also known as block feeding

    If you wake up earlier than your baby (it could happen!) then try pumping from one side and feed your baby on the other side when they wake. This is a great option if you find you’re pressed for time when your baby wakes up. 

    Pump in the evening

    The evenings are usually when your supply is at its lowest. And after an exhausting day of nursing and running around, who can blame it?

    If you’ve been apart from your little one all day and the second you’re reunited they’re straight back on the Titties, you’ll be pretty drained by bedtime. 

    But, even if this is the time your supply is at its lowest, it doesn’t mean you don’t have milk in those Boobies mama. By pumping at the end of the evening, you’re giving your body the signal to turn those faucets back on and start replenishing your supply.

    Your body really is an amazing thing.

    Try pumping for 20 minutes after you’ve put your baby down for the night. Again, even if you don’t get a lot out, you’re sending your body the signals it needs to kick things up a notch. 

    Pump after a nursing session for a boost

    If you find yourself needing a milky boost, then you can try pumping for 15-20 minutes after each of your feeding sessions.

    This will tell your body to crank up the production. However, you should only do this if you notice a dip in your supply or you need to build up your stash quickly. 

    Stick to a schedule

    Schedules make pumping easier to manage.

    Like with most things in life!

    If you give your body consistent instructions on how much milk you need, your incredible body will respond. 

    Just remember that every breastfeeding journey is different, and there isn’t a one size fits all way of going about things.

    If you’re mainly nursing, then following the above steps should give you a decent supply for your breast milk freezer stash. However, if you’re pumping more than nursing, then a schedule will help you feel on top of things.  

    For exclusive pumpers, aim to pump for 15 minutes per breast every 2-3 hours.

    For pumping at work and nursing at home, pump three times after you’ve nursed, every 2-3 hours at work, and nurse on demand when back home.

    And for increasing your supply, pump after every nursing session.

    Get your baby used to the bottle

    Introduce your baby to a bottle at about 4-6 weeks. It’s a good idea to wait till then so your body has had a chance to establish feeding, and it’ll allow you to add a bottle into your relationship without risking bottle preference.

    Your little one might not get on with the first bottle you introduce. That’s fine! Be persistent and experiment with different brands until you find one they’re happy with. And if you have to introduce a bottle earlier, then, again, that’s totally fine! Do what works best for you.

    How to store your milk safely

    Now you know how to build a breast milk stash, it’s important to understand how to store it safely.

    Breast milk can be stored in the fridge for up to four days (if the temperature is at 39 degrees Fahrenheit or below) and in the freezer for six months.  

    It’s a good idea not to overfill your storage bags, but keep in mind your baby might not want to drink that much for each feeding. Store less in each bag so you don’t end up wasting too much – three or four ounces is perfect.

    Make sure you label your milk storage bag with the date and time you expressed and how many ounces are in the bag.

    Lay the bag flat in your freezer so it takes up less space and you can build your stash up easily. Then organize your milk by the date it has been pumped, using the oldest milk first and keeping the newest bags near the back.

    When it comes to using your frozen milk stash, defrost it by placing the bags in the fridge overnight. To defrost it in a hurry, you can place the bag in a bowl of water but avoid microwaving it.

    You've got this Mama

    Whether you’re nursing or pumping, or both, building a stash of breast milk is hard work mama. You’re strong as a mother and we’re so proud of you for doing it.

    Just take your time, have patience, and give yourself as much love as you can. You deserve it.

    And don’t forget to let us know how you’re getting on by joining the conversation over on the Titty City Design Instagram page. Your tribe is rooting for you! 

         

        At Titty City Design, we believe that every boobie is beautiful, and that should be celebrated. We are a female owned and operated, small business here to spread self love and body positivity with our line of products for the home. A portion of our proceeds go to help support postpartum women and breast cancer patients.

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