One of the hardest things to prepare for before your baby’s arrival is breastfeeding. I mean how can you? It’s not something that you can practice until baby is here right? However, you can read about tips and tricks that hopefully will help you when the time comes. Understanding how to build a breast milk stash will not only allow you to have those much needed date nights but also ease your mind if you’re not able to nurse.
This post contains affiliate links which means if you purchase a product through my link I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information you can read my disclosure here.
If you are worried breastfeeding will not work for you or are looking to best prepare yourself I highly recommend taking one of Milkology’s courses!
Breastfeeding came naturally when I had my first born. She latched great and I did not have many issues. But when I planned to have my first night out without baby I realized I needed to pump and store some extra breast milk.
This was a lot more difficult than I had realized. My supply had already regulated to what my baby was eating so when I would pump I would only get about 1-1.5 ounces.
Eventually I gave up and decided to supplement with formula.
Fast forward 3 1/2 years and my second baby was born. This time around I wanted to make sure I could build a small stash of breast milk. I ended up exceeding my goal and saved over 200 ounces in just 2 months!
Before I get into exactly what I did to build my breast milk freezer stash I want to answer a few questions you may have first.
Why do I need a freezer stash of breast milk?
Building a breast milk stash is not necessary but it is recommended if you are going back to work, have a premature baby, pump more than your baby needs, are sick yourself or you simply want a night off. You can supplement with formula which is perfectly fine in my book (fed is best!) but you may want to attempt to exclusively breast feed so here is how and why you should do it.
How much breast milk should I stockpile?
All babies are different so one may need more milk than others but as a general rule of thumb you can follow these guidelines:
*Remember always talk to your doctor if you have any questions.
So now that you know around how much breast milk your baby will need, the amount you stock pile will depend completely on you! Here are a few scenarios:
Scenario 1: You want to occasionally go out on a date night or have some much needed “mom time” about 1-2 times per week.
This is the scenario I was hoping for and my method worked out perfectly!
Scenario 2: You plan on going back to work and want to continue to provide your baby breast milk.
If you plan on pumping at work you will want at least 2-3 days minimum of breast milk stored so you can stay ahead.
Scenario 3: You want to build up enough stock pile in order to last through the end of the first year.
This depends on how long you want to nurse from the breast. 8, 9, 10 months? You can use the above average amounts to calculate how much breast milk you would need stocked.
You can also use this milk calculator to figure out how much expressed breast milk your baby will need.
What is a good stash of breast milk?
There is not a set amount that you SHOULD have but I do recommend enough for a day or two of feedings. This is a great amount just in case of an emergency or if you last minute need to go somewhere.
Alright now onto my easy method for building a stash of breast milk!
Step 1: Get a good Breast Pump
I cannot attest to every breast pump out there because I have only used two of them but I highly recommend the Spectra S2. For my first born I had the Medela Pump-in-Style Advanced and it worked fine but took at least 20-25 minutes. With the Spectra S2 I only needed to pump 10-12 minutes and I would get more milk than I did with the Medela. I also thought the Spectra was not as harsh and I loved the light and clock on it. If this is your first baby you should be able to get a breast pump through your insurance otherwise you can purchase the spectra here.
Step 2: Learn how to use your pump properly
This is important if you want to make sure you are optimizing the amount of milk you will pump. These are the settings I used on my Spectra S2:
- 1-2 minutes: 70 cycle, 2-3 vacuum
- 8-10 minutes: 54 cycle, 5 vacuum
- 1-2 minutes: 38 cycle, 8 vacuum
Basically with the Spectra you want to start with high speed low suction and end with low speed high suction.
Additionally, you want to make sure you are using the correct flange size. I started with the smaller ones but found out that I should actually be using the bigger size and it made a huge difference.
Step 3: Start pumping when baby is 1 week old
Start pumping when your baby is around 1 week old. This will allow you to work on breastfeeding with your baby but begin pumping before your supply regulates to baby’s needs. I also recommend giving your baby a bottle around this time to make sure they take it. I waited too long with my first born and she had a lot of trouble taking a bottle.
Step 4: Pump once per day in the morning
In order to build up a stash you only need to pump once a day and in the morning. I suggest the morning because your breasts are normally fuller from the longer stretches at night. When I first started pumping I would get 4-6 ounces per session and then after several weeks it went down to around 3 ounces per session.
Now if you do the math there are 30 days in a month x the number of ounces per session:
- 30 days x 2 ounces = 60 ounces
- 30 days x 3 ounces = 90 ounces
- 30 days x 4 ounces = 120 ounces
So in 2 months I was able to save over 200 ounces of milk just by pumping once per day! And you can double that number if you pumped twice per day. All you need to do is use this simple pumping schedule to build your stash.
You can also use a haakaa to build a stash! Seriously this simple and inexpensive product will change your life (No Pumping Required). While nursing you place it on the breast that is not being used and during your let down the milk will flow into the haakaa. You can easily get 2 ounces each time your nurse! So you can either skip the pump and use a haakaa or utilize both and add even more to your stash!
Well there you have it. You CAN stock up on breast milk while you are breastfeeding! Follow those 4 simple steps and you will have a nice Breast Milk stash to give you that much needed night out.
- Get a good breast pump
- Learn how to use it properly
- Start pumping when baby is 1 week old
- Pump once per day in the morning (add more pumping sessions if you’d like)
- Use a haakaa for easy flow of milk to add to your freezer stash
If you would like to learn more:
Milkology offers amazing classes for a great price. Check them out below!