How to Build Your Milk Stash While Breastfeeding
When it comes to breast milk feeding, building a milk stash can be a smart move. It not only provides an additional source of milk when needed but also gives a breastfeeding mother peace of mind. Creating a milk stash would require time, effort, and dedication, but it is worth the investment. If you’re wondering how to build your milk stash while breastfeeding, this article covers everything you need to know.
Understanding Your Milk Supply
The first step towards building a milk stash is understanding your milk supply. Many factors affect milk production, such as baby’s age, frequency of feeding, and latch quality. However, several steps can help maintain a healthy milk supply. These include:
- Frequent nursing or pumping (at least 7-8 times a day)
- Ensuring that both breasts are emptied during nursing or pumping sessions
- Drinking plenty of fluids and staying well-hydrated
- Eating a nutritious diet rich in protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
Determining how much milk to pump or store depends on how the mother plans to use the milk stash. If the baby is exclusively breastfed and won’t be separated from the mother frequently enough for her to send pumped milk daily, she may need to express enough milk for one feeding per day while she’s still breastfeeding frequently.
When to Start Building Your Milk Stash
The best time to start building your stash will vary from one mom to another depending on their unique situation. However, many moms choose to start once breastfeeding is well established (usually around six weeks postpartum). This allows them time to perfect their breastfeeding techniques before introducing anything else.
When building your stash, it’s essential to pump after breastfeeding sessions or in between them; this helps to stimulate milk production and increase the amount of milk stored. If the mother is away from the baby for most of the day, pumping at regular intervals can help maintain a healthy milk supply and prevent engorgement.
Choosing the Right Breast Pump
Choosing the right breast pump can make a significant difference in building a milk stash. When it comes to choosing a breast pump, mothers should consider the type and features of various pumps. These include:
- Single or double electric breast pumps (which are more efficient than manual ones)
- Battery-operated or corded breast pumps (depending on preferred mobility and convenience)
- Adjustable suction pressure and speed
- Easy to assemble, use, and clean
Proper use and maintenance of a breast pump are also crucial to its effectiveness. Moms should regularly clean their breast pump parts with warm, soapy water and sanitize using either microwave steam bag or an electric steam sanitizing bag.
Storing and Freezing Breast Milk
Storing and freezing breast milk correctly is crucial since it affects the quality and safety of the milk. The following are guidelines that moms should follow when storing or freezing expressed breast milk:
- Freshly expressed milk can be kept at room temperature for up to four hours
- In a refrigerator set at 4°C (39°F) or lower; breastmilk is safe for up to five days
- In an insulated freezer bag with ice packs for up to 24 hours before transferring it to the refrigerator or freezer.
- In a standard kitchen freezer set at -18°C (0°F) can be stored for up to six months
Choosing the right breast milk storage containers is also an important consideration when building a milk stash. Examples of safe storage containers include:
- Milk storage bags with triple track seal and have space to write the date and volume of milk
- Stainless steel bottles with secure lids that prevent leaks
- Glass baby bottles with BPA-free lids that are freezer friendly
When thawing or warming frozen breast milk, never use a microwave as it can destroy essential nutrients and create hot spots. Instead, place the milk in a bowl of warm water or use a bottle warmer.
Techniques for Increasing Milk Production
Sometimes, mothers may find it challenging to produce enough milk. However, several natural remedies can help increase milk production, including:
- Drinking lots of fluids like water, tea, and milk
- Taking lactation supplements that can boost milk supply
- Incorporating lactogenic foods like oatmeal and brewer’s yeast into their diet
- Sucking powerfully on one breast while offering the other may help to increase overall milk production.
Certain breastfeeding positions can also facilitate better suckling by the baby, leading to optimal milk transfer from mother to baby. These include cradling and cross-cradling, football hold and laid-back breastfeeding position.
Strategies for Pumping More Milk per Session
Maximizing pumping output can be crucial in building a decent-sized stash faster. Some essential tips include:
- Pumping at regular intervals consistently every day
- Creating a conducive environment that’s quiet and relaxing during pumping sessions
- Ensuring proper nutrition and hydration by taking healthy snacks and hydrating regularly during pumping breaks
Creating a Breastfeeding Schedule That Supports Milk Stash Building
Pumping while breastfeeding can result in an oversupply or satisfy baby’s feeding needs from the comfort of the bottle if mom is away. It’s essential to establish an effective breastfeeding schedule when building a milk stash. This involves:
- Designing a flexible but consistent pumping schedule that caters to your baby’s feeding habits.
- Prioritizing breastfeeding whenever possible.
- Pumping after morning feed and before bedtime sessions for optimal results.
Overcoming Common Milk Stash Building Challenges
Building a milk stash can present unique challenges such as engorgement, sore nipples, and clogged ducts. Engorgement occurs when too much milk accumulates in the breasts, making them hard, swollen, painful to touch potentially leading to mastitis. Sore nipples, on the other hand, can be due to poor latching technique by the baby. To overcome these challenges:
- Use technology like heating pads or cold compresses to alleviate pain or gentle massage the breast while pumping may help
- Check nursing form while employing gentle techniques like soothing balms and nipple shields where necessary.
For working mothers who are introducing expressed milk into bottle feeding, concerns about maintaining their milk stash may arise as they transition back to work, but with adequate planning ahead of time for new feeding patterns/routines at daycare or another place of care will reduce workload-related stress and anxiety.
Building a milk stash can bring tremendous benefits to any breastfeeding mother. It allows versatility in terms of convenience and constant supply of milk that can come in handy for various reasons, like traveling or returning to work. It requires dedication and consistency, but with the tips provided in this article, you’re armed with knowledge that will help you get started on your milk stash building journey. Happy pumping!
How To Build Milk Stash While Breastfeeding – Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why should I build a milk stash?
Building a milk stash can provide a backup supply of breastmilk for your baby in case of emergencies such as illness, unexpected separation, or returning to work.
2. When is the best time to start building a milk stash?
The best time to start building a milk stash is when your milk supply is well-established, usually around 4-6 weeks postpartum.
3. How often should I pump to build up my milk stash?
You don’t need to pump every day to build up your milk stash. Pumping once a day after breastfeeding or during your baby’s longest sleep period can be enough to gradually build up a supply over time.
4. How much milk should I aim to store in my milk stash?
The amount of milk you store in your milk stash depends on your personal circumstances and preferences. A good goal could be to aim for at least 1-2 days worth of feeds for your baby, which is typically around 25-50 ounces.
5. What’s the best way to store breastmilk in my milk stash?
You should always use breastmilk storage bags or containers designed for freezing breastmilk. Label each container with the date and amount of milk, then store them in the freezer using the “first in, first out” method so that you use the oldest milk first.
6. How long can breastmilk be stored in my milk stash?
Freshly expressed breastmilk can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days, and in the freezer for up to 6 months. However, it’s best to use frozen breastmilk within 3 months if possible.
7. How can I make sure my milk stash stays fresh?
- Rotate milk frequently: Use the oldest milk first and add fresh milk to the back of your stash.
- Keep your freezer temperature at 0°F (-18°C): This is the ideal temperature for freezing and storing breastmilk.
- If traveling: Bring along a cooler or insulated bag with ice packs to keep the milk cold during transport.
- Avoid refreezing breastmilk: If you’ve thawed frozen breastmilk, use it within 24 hours and don’t freeze it again.
4 Key Takeaways for Building a Milk Stash while Breastfeeding:
- Establish a Routine – Set a schedule and stick to it. Pumping at the same time every day signals your body to produce more milk.
- Add in Extra Pumping Sessions – After your baby’s first morning feeding, pump the remaining milk. Also, try pumping on one breast while breastfeeding on the other.
- Increase Lactation Foods – Oatmeal, leafy greens, and fennel can stimulate milk production.
- Utilize Storage Bags or Containers – Invest in good-quality breastmilk storage bags or containers and label each bag with the date and amount of milk.
If followed consistently, these tips can help increase your milk supply and build a stash that allows you to take short breaks when needed without worrying about your child’s feeding schedule.