Building up a breast milk stash is often why mothers buy a breast pump. A large milk stash can be top of mind once the baby has been born. Although this is a great way to make sure that you have enough breast milk to feed your baby once you start work again, does it need to be a worry? My Breastpump will share some tips on making sure you have a milk stash perfect for your baby. With all this information you will not ever waste a single drop of your very precious breast milk stash.
When is the ideal time to start expressing?
The answer to this question is dependent on when you are going back to work and need to leave your baby. For some mothers this can be as early as 6 weeks or as long as 6 months. You would need to start expressing before you go back to work. The longer your maternity leave the longer you have to establish your milk supply before you start expressing. If you only have 6 weeks, I recommend that you start 2 weeks before and increase your amount of pump sessions until you go back to work. If you have a longer maternity leave then you can wait until about 1 month before you start work. Use the first week getting to know how to use your pump and when the best times for you to express. For mothers that work and express at the office a Mya Joy double electric hospital grade breast pump that is ultra-quite and portable is recommend.
How to express to build up your breast milk stash?
iI you understand how breast milk supply works it will help you to be able to express your milk with confidence. Breast milk is made on a supply and demand basis. The more you stimulate your breast and remove milk the more your breast will make milk. Now if you are direct feeding your baby and wanting to build up a breast milk supply you need to understand that your baby is already taking all the milk that they need and any milk that you express is extra. Therefore, in the first week you may only get a few drops of milk if you express directly after a feed. This will start to increase as you add pumping into your daily routine.
If you pump in between feeding your baby, you can expect to express about half a feed. So, you would need to express twice a day to have 1 full feed and four times a day to have 2 full feeds. This will change when you are back at work as you should be able to express one full feed at each expression because your baby has not drunk any milk.
It is also a good idea to try and pump at a similar time each day as you would once you start working. This way your body gets used to pumping and it will not be such a change once you go back to work. Expressing in the morning will also yield larger volumes of breast milk than in the afternoon.
What to store your expressed breast milk in?
I am sure you have heard the horror stories of mothers finding that their breast milk has leaked while defrosting the milk. Let’s be honest that is heart breaking, to have worked so hard for the milk, stored it and then realized that you can’t use the milk is absolutely terrible. So how do you prevent this from happening to you?
Use containers that are designed to hold liquid breast milk. Containers that are safe to store breast milk in are: Glass, plastic (food grade, presterilized and are BPA free) and hard plastic cups. All three suggested items have advantages and disadvantages. Glass containers are great because they are reusable, but they can break if dropped or over filled before freezing. Food grade plastic can either be breast milk storage bottles like our Hygieni breast milk bottles, they are reusable and you can pump directly into the bottle which is a great time saver as you do not need to cleaning extra bottles. The disadvantage is that they can take up a lot of space in your freezer. Breast milk storage bags are ideal for storing large volumes of breast milk in a freezer as they can be frozen flat to save space in the freezer. My Breast pump has two different options of storage bags. The first option is the Ameda Store’nPour which you are able to pump directly in your breast milk bag. The second is the My Breastpump breast milk storage bag which can hold 250ml and is medically sterilized before packing. Both can be found on our website’s storage page.
Storage containers that are not recommend to store breast milk in are: plastic that contains BPD, disposable bottle liners, steel containers and food ziplock bags (they have not been sterilized for breast milk storage and can split easily).
How to manage your breast milk stash
The golden rule of storing breast milk is first in first out. This way you are more likely to use the breast milk before it has “expired” and not to waste a drop. It is important to store your milk in the volumes that you will be needing the milk. Once you go back to work you may need larger amounts of milk per day. It is really useful to freeze the milk with this in mind. It is less wasteful and time consuming to store milk in one or two bags rather than 5 smaller amounts. In order to do this, you may need to mix milk from different expression sessions. The golden rule here is to mix milk that is the same temperature. If you know that you are going to need more milk to fill you bag. Store the milk in the fridge. Once you have expressed the next amount of milk also place that in the fridge. When both amounts of milk are cold you can mix them and then freeze them.
To keep track of the first in and first out you need to know when the milk was expressed. You need to write with a permanent marker on each bottle or bag the date the milk was expressed, your baby’s name (if sending the milk to creche). It is also useful to write the amount of milk stored. This way you will be able to calculate how much milk you are thawing. The Ameda Hygieni breast milk storage bottles have a rough rectangular section that makes it easy to write on and the marker will not rub off easily. If you use an alcohol based cleaner (like hand sanitizer) it wipes off easily. The Ameda Store’nPour and My Breastpump breast milk storage bags both have designated space to write all the information that you need to keep track of your milk stash.
Once you have frozen your milk bags flat, you can then store them in an ice-cream container standing up so that you can read the dates and keep the oldest in the front so that they are easy to get to.
According to the CDC, you can store milk in the following ways:
On the counter top 25°C or cooler for 4 hours
Fridge 4° (not in the door as this is warmer than the back of the fridge) for 4 days
Freezer -18° for 6 months
Do you have any interesting breast milk storage stories/tips to share? If you do, please leave them in the comments.