How do I build a freezer stash? - Mothership Milk

How do I build a freezer stash?

Building a freezer stash of breast milk can be a helpful strategy for ensuring that you have a supply of breast milk available for your baby when needed. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to build a freezer stash:

  1. Start at the appropriate time: In a perfect world, start building your stash shortly after breastfeeding is well established and not in those early days postpartum while your body is still trying to figure out how much milk it needs to make. Turns out, there can be too much of a good thing and we want to avoid creating an oversupply!  We recognize that this isn’t always possible and maternal leave is highly variable in the US, so you might have to start building your freezer stash a few weeks before you plan to return to work or when you anticipate needing a stored supply.

  2. Pump Regularly: To build a freezer stash, you'll need to pump milk regularly in addition to breastfeeding your baby. You can pump after nursing sessions or between feeds when your baby takes longer naps or when you have a bit of extra milk. Remember, those feelings of “fullness” between feeds will start to dissipate as your supply regulates and is not indicative of a decrease in supply!

  3. Choose the Right Pump: Invest in a good-quality breast pump that suits your needs. Electric double pumps are often more efficient and can save time, as they allow you to pump both breasts simultaneously. Wearable pumps can also be a wonderful tool and let you pump while on the go, though they might not yield the most output compared to an electric pump. Consider your unique situation before buying: will you be pumping while running around chasing your toddler at the park? Then a discrete, hands-free pump might be your best bet. Will you only be pumping at the office? Then an electric pump (many options are even battery operated if power isn’t available!), might be better suited.

  4. Pick the Optimal Time: Many mothers find that their milk supply is highest in the morning. You might consider pumping in the morning after your baby's first feeding to maximize your output.

  5. Pump During Night Feedings: If your baby sleeps through the night or has a longer stretch of sleep, you can pump during the time when you would have normally breastfed. This can help you build up a stash over time without affecting your baby's feedings.

  6. Stash Small Amounts: In the beginning, you don't need to pump large volumes. Stash small amounts of milk, such as 1-2 ounces, in breast milk storage bags or containers. Label each bag with the date to ensure you use the oldest milk first.

  7. Consistency is Key: Consistency is important for building a freezer stash. Try to pump around the same time each day to signal to your body that it needs to produce extra milk.

  8. Pump While Away: If you're away from your babe during the day, use a breast pump to maintain your milk supply and build your stash. Pump as often as your baby would feed as breastmilk production is based on supply and demand.

  9. Proper Storage: Freeze breast milk in small quantities (2-4 ounces) to minimize waste. Store milk in breast milk storage bags or containers specifically designed for freezing breast milk. Make sure to leave some space at the top of the container as milk expands when frozen.

  10. Hydration and Nutrition: Stay hydrated and maintain a balanced diet. Proper nutrition and hydration are important for maintaining milk supply. Nourish yourself first so you can nourish your babe.

Remember that every breastfeeding journey is unique. Some  be able to build a large stash quickly, while others might need more time. The key is to find a pumping schedule that works for you and your baby, and to focus on maintaining your milk supply while gradually building your freezer stash. If you have concerns, reach out to a lactation consultant for support. You’re not alone and assistance is available!

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