Whether you plan to return to work after your baby is born or you just want to get a night out with your honey, a breast milk stash can make that easier and give you peace of mind that there is always enough food for your baby….even if you are not physically there.
It can be amazingly awesome to know that YOU ALONE provide everything your little one needs to eat in the form of breast milk. How amazing is that? However, that can be overwhelming and scary for some moms. That is where a freezer full of milk can help and we can tell you how from mama who have mastered this.
What Is a Breast Milk Stash?
Once you join the ranks of breastfeeding mamas, you realize that there’s a new type of hoarding going on in the form of a breast milk stash. If you are a new mom, you might want one too! Why? If you have a busy lifestyle, want to continue feeding your baby breast milk after you return to work, or think that you may be unable to breastfeed in the future for any reason, you may want to build a breast milk stash of your own.
A breast milk stash is a collection of stored breast milk that you can use to feed your baby as needed. You may keep some milk in the refrigerator if you know that it will be used in the short term, but most stashes are kept in the freezer. You can use a freezer bag for storage or purchase breast milk bags with leak-proof closures and sturdier side seams. These milk storage bags are preferred by many breastfeeding mothers for the following reasons:
- The best bags have durable closures that are resistant to leaks.
- The side seams are stronger, so you’re less likely to experience a ruptured bag and a milky mess.
- Some of these bags will stand up, so they take up less room and make it easier to organize your stash.
- You can buy bags that drop directly into select bottles, eliminating the risk of spills as you transfer stored milk to a bottle.
Why You REALLY Want a Breast Milk Stash
Moms that formula feed just need to know that they can run to the store and get another can of formula for milk. Breastfeeding moms need to think ahead a little more if they are going to be away from their babies and need milk for them!
But…once your milk stash starts to grow, you will always have the comfort of knowing that milk is always available for your baby. You also have the advantage of allowing other family members and friends to feed the baby without introducing formula. Whether you’re returning to work or you just want to spend some time out of the house, your stash can free you to enjoy an active lifestyle while giving your baby the most nourishing milk available. YAY!
In some cases, a milk stash is the answer to an inadequate or diminishing milk supply. You can use the power pumping method or simply start expressing extra milk throughout the day, saving that excess milk in the freezer. Your body will take this added pumping as a demand for greater milk supply, and you will always have milk in the freezer if your supply is inadequate at some point.
If your baby is depending on your breasts for nourishment, it only makes sense to collect some of that milk for easy, fast access as needed. The busier your lifestyle, the more likely you will benefit from building at least a small breast milk stash.
What If You Don’t Need All that Milk?
This is one of the biggest points of confusion for new breastfeeding mothers. If you’re breastfeeding your baby regularly and won’t use the stored milk often, why do you even need to build a stash? It all comes down to the security of knowing that the milk is there if something unexpected occurs. The question isn’t if you need a stash. It’s how much milk you need in the stash.
If you are with your baby most of the time and don’t intend to use a bottle often, then you may only need a couple bags in your freezer stash. Each bag should last for up to six months, and there are some things that you can do with milk that you don’t use:
- Our favorite option is to donate it to a milk bank! By doing this, you are helping babies in need benefit from your ample supply. (Another mom will be SOOOOO blessed that you helped her and her baby this way!)
- Pour a little into your baby’s bath water. It will soften and soothe his or her skin naturally.
- Rub some on your nipples if they become cracked, dry, or sore from breastfeeding and pumping.
- Freeze the milk into a bottle nipple with the ring attached around the nipple’s bottom. Allow your baby to chew on the frozen nipple, soothing his or her gums while providing some added nourishment.
- Learn how to make lotion and soap with your breast milk so that your skin benefits as well.
How to Start Your Stash
The goal is to pump extra milk without interfering with the availability of milk when your baby is ready to breastfeed. Many women do this by pumping excess milk right after their baby feeds. If your baby is satisfied at the end of the feeding, you will have time to build up more breast milk before he or she is ready to feed again. It may seem like you don’t get much extra due to your baby already breastfeeding, but even a little bit adds to your stash. It will collect faster than you can imagine.
You may also pump at regular intervals throughout the day, getting small amounts of excess milk from each session. Since you aren’t depleting your breasts with these added pump sessions, you should still have enough milk for your baby when needed. This is a good method if you’re trying to stimulate your breasts for greater milk production. The more frequent demands for milk will signal to your body that more milk is needed, hopefully increasing your supply.
If your baby is sleeping through the night or at least most of the night, you may also express extra milk while he or she is resting. You should build up enough milk to handle the morning feeding while getting a larger amount of milk to add to your stash. Many women will pump extra milk after that morning feeding because that is the time of day when women produce the most milk.
This is the most useful and healthiest form of hoarding in the world today, and the peach of mind that you have from this breast milk stash is so worth it. If you have a hungry baby depending on your breasts for nourishment, there’s a chance that you may want a freezer stash of milk at some point in the future. Even if it is just to get away for to a movie or “date night” So get to hoarding and stashing mama! You will be glad that you did!
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- When to Introduce a Bottle (and How!)
- Life with a Breastfeeding Baby