The Secrets to Building & Maintaining a Breastmilk Freezer Stash
Many frequently ask me how I have such a large supply of breastmilk in my freezer. Especially after catching a glimpse of my overloaded freezer, many have requested I spill the beans! Here are all my secrets and tips.
1. START STORING ASAP
I've read a lot of women wait until a month or so before returning to work to begin storing their breastmilk. However, I strongly feel that starting earlier is best for many reasons. First, because you don't want to be under any extra stress when the day for you to start work draws near. You will end up trying to excessively pump in order to stock up on breastmilk all while trying to mentally prepare for such a big day. Also, you never know how your days at work will go and whether or not you will be able to fit in as many pumping breaks as you need in order to get enough of a supply for the following day. You may have days where you are super busy or have meetings and have to skip a pumping session. Most importantly in my opinion, is that you never really know when you are going to need to be away from your baby even if it's just for a few hours. You want to plan ahead and be prepared for any situation and not have to worry about expressing milk last minute.
I came home from the hospital and immediately began pumping in between feedings. Although, my purpose at the time was to help increase my milk supply, I was also building a freezer stash. When I first came home from the hospital, I did not know I was going to quit my full-time designer job and become a stay-at-home-mom. However, by the time my expected return to work date came around I had a half freezer full of breastmilk! A lot of people ask me what is the purpose of my stash if I am currently not working. Well, believe it or not my stash has come in handy numerous of times. When I go to school, to the gym, get called in to my freelance job, or just want to have a glass of wine, I easily grab a bag of expressed milk from my freezer without having to worry about pumping before I do anything. Especially now that I have started feeding my daughter solids such as oatmeal, it is easy for me to use my stashed milk to mix into her meals.
2. PUMP EVERYDAY
I have made it a routine to pump at least once a day everyday. I usually pump first thing in the morning after I wake up because that is when my breasts are most engorged from not feeding as much during the night. I have read that your let down is usually greater during the early morning hours as well which, I strongly believe from my experience. (I can never get as much milk expressed during anytime in the day as I do in the morning.) Also, whenever I am away from my daughter for more than 2 hours, I feed her first and then I pump for a few minutes. Doing this not only helps to reduce my engorged breasts but also replaces any of the expressed milk I took from the stash to feed my baby while I was away.
Every single morning while I pump I drink a cup of Traditional Medicinals Organic Mother's Milk Tea.
Next, along with my multivitamins, I take 2 capsules once a day of Nature's Way Fenugreek Seed. (Link in picture)
Taking both of these supplements on a daily basis has helped me maintain my milk supply.
Drink plenty of water! Breastfeeding should make you very thirsty so, you are probably drinking a lot more than you've ever had already but, you can never drink too much. I carry a bottle of water with me all over my apartment and everywhere I go. Yes, I can just buy a bottle when I am out instead of carrying a bottle with me everywhere. (I even take one with me to restaurants!) However, I've found I tend to drink less water when I have to buy it and don't have easy access to it. Whenever I feel the slightest bit of thirst, I just pull out my bottle.
I hope this information helps you and answers a lot of your questions. Check out an older post for more tips on breastfeeding, Breastfeeding 101: Do's & Don'ts. Please leave any other questions or suggestions you may have for me in the comments below.