When you were a kid, you loved to show off your Lisa Frank sticker collection to your friends. As a teenager, you probably had a museum-worthy display of M.A.C. lipsticks. But now you're a mom and you're ready to open your freezer and show off a bountiful breast milk stash while whispering things like, "My precious." If you're thinking breastfeeding without trying to pump extra milk is hard enough, I get it, but you just need a few tips to build a breast milk freezer stash you can be proud of.
Because, as crazy as it sounds, there is something very empowering about seeing a freezer full of milk you've pumped for your baby. Partly because, hello, your body is amazing and seeing the fruits of its labor just reaffirms that. But also because pumping and breastfeeding is hard work. Knowing that you're taking extra steps to build up a freezer stash of breast milk should make you want to pat yourself on the back and take a trip to Target alone.
But a freezer stash also has major benefits. You can pump milk to freeze for future baby food (add breast milk instead of water to fruit or veggies in a blender to make purees), for business trips, for those days when you pumped two bottles for daycare and then they spilled all over you, and for other emergencies. It can take away a lot of stress to know you have milk ready if your baby needs it, so try these nine tips for building a breast milk freezer stash you'll be proud to show off.
1. Pump First Thing In The Morning
When you're pumping to build up a milk stash, you can pump whenever it's convenient for you to trick your body into making more milk. But according to Lansinoh, many moms choose to pump first thing in the morning as their body has been at rest and had a chance to produce a lot of milk. Some moms prefer to feed their baby first and then pump, others pump and then feed their baby. (Don't worry, your milk doesn't "dry up" — your baby will have plenty to eat if you pump first.) Do what works for you, but try to fit in a pumping session soon after you wake up.
2. Store Your Milk In Small Amounts
It's tempting, especially if you have a great pumping session, to store 5 or 6 ounces worth of breast milk in one bag, but try to store your milk in small amounts. Medela notes that a small amount of breast milk thaw more quickly than larger amounts, and it also keeps you from wasting any if your child doesn't finish the thawed milk or if it sits out too long.
3. Be Kind To Yourself
Building up a freezer stash of breast milk is a nice thing to do, but it's not the end of the world if you can't make it happen. If you're too busy to pump one day, it's going to be OK. If you can only get an ounce or two of breast milk, just remember that your pump is nowhere near as efficient as your baby at getting the milk out of your breast. Be kind to yourself and relax. Stressing about a freezer stash is totally unnecessary.
4. Don't Overdo It
I know you want a great freezer stash, but don't overdo the pumping. If you want to pump extra throughout the day, that's fine, but too much pumping can lead to an oversupply which can put you at risk for blocked ducts and mastitis.
5. Don't Rely On Your Freezer Stash
If you're relying on your freezer stash, don't. Even frozen, your breast milk has an expiration date and can't be used after about six months. You also don't need to use it in place of a feeding or pumping session. For emergencies? Sure. Like when the pumped milk gets left at work and you're packing your baby up for daycare. But if you're supplementing with frozen milk, you have to make up for that feeding by pumping or your supply will decrease.
6. Store Them By Date
You have to use the oldest milk in your stash first, so make sure to store them by date, with the most recent milk in the back of the line-up.
7. Get Plenty Of Rest
According to KellyMom, getting enough rest is an integral part of maintaining a healthy milk supply. Don't wake up twice a night to pump just so you can build up a stash, especially if your baby is sleeping well. Sleep when you can so that you can keep up your milk production.
8. Continue Your Regular Pumping Schedule
Just because you're pumping extra for a freezer stash doesn't mean you can give up pumping throughout the work day. Remember, every time your little one has a bottle of frozen milk, that's a signal to your body that your baby isn't hungry during that time and your supply will decrease. Even Flo Feeding recommended you save your freezer stash for emergencies and continue pumping for your baby's daily feedings.
9. Lay The Milk Flat In Your Freezer
It's easier to store if you lay the milk flat so it can freeze and stack. Make sure it's sealed correctly with a little room at the top of each bag to allow for expanding.