This is the part of the story where things finally feel like they are working out. With O (my oldest daughter), I could never really build a freezer stash. There were so many issues along the way, and I was constantly battling a low supply. I’m just grateful I could feed her breastmilk for the majority of her first year (with some supplementing).
With A (newest baby girl), everything has been different. She is a textbook breastfeeder. The magical moments I dreamed about and mentioned in the first part of this series are what I am experiencing with A. She ate well from the beginning. She latched within the first hour of her life, and I came home from the hosiptal with positive feelings that this could be different from my first breastfeeding experience. Everything continued to go smoothly and soon enough, we had things pretty down pat.
After about 6 weeks, I knew that I wanted to begin my freezer stash, because I had to go back to work (only for a short time) at 4 months. I did some perusing on Pinterest and stumbled on these helpful posts: Emily over at New Mom, Old Soul (old post, but very detailed) and a short, but important Q&A over at The Badass Breastfeeder.
Here are the starting points of what I gathered to begin building my stash!
- Pump in the morning – most women have more milk in the morning.
- Use Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags, they lay flatter than the other breastmilk storage bags.
- Label everything.
So, I got started. I decided that after the morning feed (somewhere around 5:30am-6:30am), the baby went back to sleep for a bit and I went downstairs to pump. I started off pumping about 1.5-2 oz from each side. I would always get less on the side that the baby ate on the longest, so don’t panic if you are getting more from one side than the other. 2 months later, I was pumping about 3-4 oz from each side.
VERY Important: This is the only time of the day that I was pumping. The rest of the day, I was breastfeeding. One concern I had was that there are days when I wouldn’t pump until 7:00am, and then baby was ready to feed again by 8:00am (sometimes before this). I think, like many other women, I was thinking, “would I have enough milk?” I just put her on the breast, and trusted that my body would do the rest. In the beginning, sometimes my let-down would be slower at this feed, but I would just switch baby to the other side if she became restless and fussy while waiting. Eventually, my body understood what the baby needed. Remember, it’s counterproductive to give the baby a bottle at this feed, because that will lessen your freezer stash, and doesn’t allow your body to make all the milk that the baby needs.
To store the milk:
- Divide the pumped milk into the portion sizes that you want.
- Label the bags with the date and amount of breastmilk (do this before pouring in the milk).
- Lay flat in freezer.
Best Find Ever!
I found these disposable bread loaf pans that work great for laying the breastmilk in to freeze flat, and they are perfect for holding the bags once they are frozen.
I originally had my breastmilk organized by date, all sizes mixed together. But after I had about 200 ounces, I knew that I wanted to organize it differently. So, each loaf pan held a different amount, so all 2 oz in one pan, 3 oz in another, etc. They were still in date order (oldest in front) as well. This made it easier to find when I was away, and whoever was caring for the baby could easily get what they needed.
It definitely was a labor of love. I went back to work at the beginning of May, and I had to work 6 weeks until I was finished teaching for the year. There were plenty of mornings after the baby fed that I would have loved to lay back down and sleep too. But, I am so glad that I stuck with it, and I’m celebrating it – I had an awesome freezer stash!
Update: A is 7 months now, and some freezer stash was used while I was working. But, in sad news, we found out that my milk turns quicker than it should due to excess lipase in my milk. It’s all good though, we worked through it. I did have to throw away a lot of my hard work, which was terrible, but it’s ok. A is a healthy, happy, beautiful baby, and I would do it all again if it means she gets the nutrition she needs!
Be proud of the hard work you do! Leave your comments or questions below. You know I’m always happy to help, and I love knowing there are others out there on this same journey.