freezer supply of breast milk

How to Build Up a Freezer Supply of Breast Milk

Let’s face it, between going back to work, running errands or getting that last minute pedicure, it’s really challenging to be there for your baby for every single feeding. Pumping allows you to produce and store breast milk for all of those baby-free moments, and as mothers we need that time to ourselves to recharge. To make sure you can take advantage of the benefits of breastfeeding and get the occasional night out, here are five tips to help you start building a freezer supply:

1. Add an extra pump session after your milk supply is established.

Once you get in the nursing groove and your supply regulates—typically about a month after giving birth—it’s a great time to dive into the world of pumping. Most moms find morning is the best time to add a pump, as your supply is usually naturally higher after you’ve (hopefully) gotten a little extra rest. Time your pump session for a little after nursing. Because your supply fluctuates based on demand or output, your body will start to produce more milk as you begin pumping on a regular basis.

2. Choose your storage bags wisely.

You don’t want to lose one precious drop of that liquid gold. It’s hard-earned and life-sustaining. A sturdy bag with a double zip top will ensure your milk is safely and securely stored. Most bags expand at the bottom so they can stand on the counter, making them easy to fill. Bonus tip: To easily pour your freshly-pumped milk into a storage bag, use a flange from your pump as a funnel.

3. Freeze the right amount in each bag.

Breast milk is only good in the fridge for about 24 hours after it’s totally thawed. To avoid wasting any excess, or not thawing enough, try measuring out the quantity of an average feeding into each storage bag, that way you can easily defrost the exact amount your baby needs. A couple helpful hints: liquid expands a bit when frozen, so make sure not to overfill the bags for risk of bursting and leaking. And don’t forget to label your milk with the date it was pumped.

4. Store your bags efficiently in your freezer.

To keep your breast milk neat and tidy, freeze bags flat on a tray or cookie sheet so they’ll take up less room in your freezer (hey, you need that space for frozen crockpot meals and pints of ice cream). Then organize the frozen bags in order of the date they were pumped so you can easily locate, grab and use the earliest pumped milk.

5. Don’t stress about building a large stash.

If you plan to regularly pump at work, you’ll be bringing more milk home each day—most likely the same amount your baby will drink one day’s time. If you start with a few extra bags in the freezer, you’ll always end up ahead. A nice little freezer supply will give you peace of mind in case you experience lower output one day, have to skip a pumping session or need to leave the kiddo for a last-minute date night.

For more information on how to balance breastfeeding, motherhood and taking care of yourself, contact us at Ashland Women’s Health for more information.