Practical Tips for Building a Freezer Stash of Breastmilk

Whether preparing to return to work or simply planning for just in case scenarios, creating a stockpile of breastmilk will give you peace of mind knowing you have a milk reserve for whenever you need it!  

If you are a first time mom, new mom, or brand new to the breastfeeding journey, reach out to a lactation consultant who can best help you with your specific needs and plan. This post is intended to provide general guidelines for a breastfeeding mom interested in creating a breastmilk stash with extra milk for later use. 

Weeks 1-4 After Birth

In the early days after you have your baby, you should only be focused on creating enough milk for the baby’s needs now. These first few weeks are the best time to help regulate milk production and create your milk supply that will sustain you throughout the rest of your breastfeeding journey.

If during those weeks, you naturally have extra breast milk, it’s a good idea to save that liquid gold, but again, only if you just have extra. Otherwise, focus on feeding baby those 1-2 ounces every 1-2 hours during the day and night depending on your baby’s feeding schedule. 

4 Weeks and Beyond

If you have established a good supply around the 4 week mark, you will easily be able to produce 2-4 ounces during a feeding time. You may not know the exact amount if you are exclusively breastfeeding, but as long as your baby is growing and gaining well, you likely don’t need to worry. 

Supplies You’ll Need to Create a Freezer Stash

Keep it simple. There are a million things you could use to help each pumping session, but my goal is to outline only the necessities for this post.

1.  Electric Breast Pump

Most insurances provide an electric pump of some kind. I like the Spectra S1 (the blue one), which has a rechargeable base and can be portable or plugged in to the wall. I used the pump the most on trips or when I returned to work. In the beginning, I only used the Hakaa.

I do not recommend using any type of portable pump as your primary breast pump. In my (and other lactation consultants I talk with) clinical experience, they are not sufficient to help establish and maintain supply. They are fine for occasional use for convenience once your supply is already established.

2. Hakaa

The hakaa is a useful silicone passive pumping helper. Basically, you suction it on one side while baby nurses on the other and you’ll catch any leakage and then some. I was able to get 2-3 ounces each time just using this passive method. It saved me time! There are only 2 things to watch out for when using the Hakaa: 1) Potential for Oversupply. Because it’s passive pumping, if you use it every time you pump you are telling your body you need more milk than you actually do at that time, so in response, your body will make a larger amount of milk. To combat this, I recommend only using the Hakaa in the morning during the first feeding of the day. 2) Baby’s feet can kick it off and you may lose some milk! This did happen, but as long as I was aware of it, I could adjust and prevent baby kicking it!

2. Breast milk storage bags and a permanent marker

I don’t love the excessive use of plastic, but the reality of returning to work full time meant there were fewer options for a useful storage container. Breast milk storage bags are a necessity when you are storing lots of milk. Once you fill it, squeeze as much air out as possible and lay it flat to freeze. You will also want to put the date of that pump session and the ounce amount of how much breast milk you put in the bag. That will help out so much later on! 

3. Pumping bra

You could hold the bottles for the enitre session, but you likely won’t continue pumping if you have to do that. That’s why a pumping bra is on my necessity list. I used the Larken bra in the beginning, but once I felt I needed more support I switched to using the Simple Wishes option at work. I wear a normal bra to work and just add the Simple Wishes bra when I am actively pumping. Both worked for different stages but each fit is different so you may have to see what works for you. I do think using a tighter bra for pumping helped with expressing more amounts of milk, but you don’t want a tight bra regularly. Tight bras can restrict your breasts and milk supply if worn consistently.

How to Store Freshly Expressed Breastmilk

Thawed or previously frozen milk has different guidelines, but for freshly expressed breastmilk the freezer is a good long term option. Once pumped, fresh milk can stay at room temperature for up to 4 hours so if you forget to put it in the refrigerator or freezer right away, don’t worry!

Freezer

6 Months is best, but 12 months is ok, too!

In a deep freezer (or one that you rarely open) breast milk can be stored for up to 1 year. In a regular freezer, you can store it for up to 6 months. 

Refrigerator

Up to 4 days in a refrigerator. Simply move to the freezer when ready. If pumping for later use, I just automatically went to the freezer so I didn’t forget it!

Whether preparing to return to work or simply planning for just in case scenarios, creating a freezer stash of breastmilk will help make feeding so much easier and less stressful.

Watch this video to see what tips I have for creating a freezer stash with minimal effort!

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