If you’ve already made the decision to breastfeed your baby, you’re giving them the best gift you could offer.
We know how amazing breastmilk is for a growing baby, but it’s not always easy for a woman to nurse her child at all times. That’s why it’s necessary to pump and start stockpiling breastmilk in your freezer as soon as possible!
How milk supply develops
Right after child birth, you will experience a dramatic surge of breastmilk. Your breasts will become gigantic and filled with milk (engorged) very often because you’re producing more than your baby needs to eat.
Originally, your body begins to produce enough milk to feed a small army because it doesn’t know how many mouths it’s feeding or how much each little mouth will take. After a few days, your body will learn the natural pattern of how much and when your baby eats and will start to regulate your milk production.
This will result in your breasts continuing to produce enough milk for your baby, but not an overproduction. However, some women are overproducers and their body never really regulates their production so they continue to make large amounts of milk.
When Should I Start Stockpiling Breastmilk?
For my second baby, I knew I wanted to get my breastmilk stockpile started quicker than I did with my first. I was aware that I would probably have less time alone with my newborn and need more help from others to give him bottles.
For this reason, I started pumping as soon as my breasts weren’t engorged anymore– about 5 days postpartum. This way, I knew that my supply had become somewhat regulated and I wouldn’t be messing with my body’s milk production system.
You can start stockpiling breastmilk at any point when you and your body feels ready, but if you have the time in the beginning, that could be the best time to start. At this point, your body will get used to always producing a little bit more milk at that time of day so you won’t have to worry about not making enough.
Therefore, I started at 5 days postpartum because I knew I had the most milk then. Then, I froze each bag of milk that I produced to begin my stockpile. I didn’t need to use this breastmilk at this point because I was still home with my baby.
However, don’t be worried if you didn’t start a stash this early! The most important thing is to be consistent with your pumping and your body will learn to produce more at that time.
Benefits of Having a Breastmilk Stockpile
Those first couple weeks or months will probably be the most milk you will naturally produce during your whole breastfeeding journey. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of this extra supply and start a breastmilk freezer stockpile for a time when you’ll need it.
There will most likely come a time when dad or a babysitter needs to feed the baby or your breastfeeding journey is drawing to an end.
There will be plenty of those moments when having extra milk on hand is necessary. Whether it’s when you go back to work or your supply has become depleted.
When nursing becomes tougher or your baby prefers the bottle, you’ll want enough to continue giving them breast milk as long as possible. All of these things can and probably will happen because they have happened to me!
How Much Breastmilk Should I Stockpile?
There’s no right or wrong amount to stockpile while breastfeeding. You’ll have to make the decision based on how long you want your baby to drink breastmilk, as well as when you will be going back to work or how often you will be away from your infant.
The more, the better, but don’t stress yourself out trying to build a huge stash! As long as your baby is getting fed from your milk, that should be all that matters. Anything additional is a bonus.
You can figure out how many ounces and bottles your baby will need at various points in their infancy to understand how much you will need if you want them to drink breastmilk for a certain amount of time. Check out this calculation to pinpoint the amount.
14 Tips to Maximize Your Breastmilk Stockpile
Follow these tips below to start producing and storing plenty of breastmilk. If you start early enough and stay consistent, you’ll have your breastmilk stockpile built up in no time and never have to worry about running out!
Some of these ideas could be used by an exclusively pumping mama, but it is primarily for those who are nursing and want to store a little extra. If you’re exclusively pumping you will need to pump A LOT more than I’ve stated below.
1. Start pumping and storing ASAP
This doesn’t mean you should be pumping in the hospital! However, you can and should start storing excess milk by 1-2 weeks postpartum. By then, your supply has become somewhat regulated, but you should still have an oversupply of milk.
You don’t want to start too soon because your body may continue to overproduce, leading to mastitis or clogged ducts. However, waiting too late could be difficult to pick up your supply again and produce enough excess to store up.
In my opinion, the sooner the better. For my first baby I started pumping at 2 weeks postpartum and for the second, I started consistently pumping around 5 days. I knew I wanted to start storing earlier because life was going to get a lot harder once I was alone with 2 children. Therefore, I wanted to make sure I had enough on hand to always have a bottle ready when needed.
2. Never miss a morning
If you can only fit in one pumping session a day, make sure it’s in the morning! You should have the greatest amount of breast milk production during the early morning hours. Therefore, you want to pump first thing in the morning.
Feed your baby his first morning feed (maybe around 6-7am) and then pump right after that. You don’t want to pump before you feed your baby because you want to have plenty of milk left for him.
Depending on the sleeping schedule of your baby, you should be able to pump around 6-7am. Even if they aren’t sleeping through the night, their early morning feeding should be between 5-7am.
If you’re lucky though, they will go to sleep again after this feeding. Therefore, you want to pump right after and hopefully go back to sleep yourself!
3. Pump at least once a day (more if possible)
Obviously, the more you pump, the faster you will build a supply. However, being tied to a breast pump all day isn’t a fun way to spend this special time with your newborn.
They’ll never be this little again so cherish the moments you get to snuggle with them (nostalgic mama moment)!
At minimum, you should pump one time a day (in the morning) and use the Haakaa/Silicone pump (more details below) for at least 3 nursing sessions, as well.
From consistently pumping only once a day (in the morning), I was able to store up our entire freezer with breast milk after only 4 months! I can only imagine how much I would have had if I pumped twice a day.
Related Post: First Steps to Breastfeeding Success: Helpful Tips from Day One
4. Stay hydrated
Water has been known to increase breastmilk supply and is a great way to hydrate your body, keeping you healthy while you’re nourishing yourself and your little one.
Get a nice water bottle that keeps your water ice cold throughout the day and keep it with you all the time. I absolutely love the Simple Modern Insulated Water Bottles.
They are so easy to drink out of with the sporty straw top and keep ice solid for hours!
5. Go Hands-Free with a Hands-Free Pumping Bra
No one enjoys being tied to a breast pump all day! So if your pump doesn’t allow movement away from the outlet in your wall, the least you can do is get a bra that gives you more freedom.
This hands-free pumping bra will allow you the ease of multi-tasking while pumping which is so important as a busy mom! In my opinion, it also provides a tighter suction onto your breast, ultimately resulting in a greater amount of milk to be expressed.
This will help you get in more pumping sessions per day or at least maximize your time while you are pumping. It’s not so difficult to pump while eating lunch or watching reality tv if your hands are free!
Related Post: How to Make Breastfeeding Work as a Busy Mom
6. Invest in a Wearable or Portable Pump
The Willow Pump is the ultimate hands-free pumps on the market right now. It fits right into your bra so you can quickly and conveniently pump breastmilk while you’re on-the-go. Having this pump can allow you to pump as much as you want throughout the day due to the portability.
Unfortunately, most insurances don’t cover these in full and they’re fairly pricey (about $500). However, it’s definitely worth the investment if you’re willing to splurge on the hefty price tag. Pumping while I’m serving my toddler lunch and entertaining my newborn during tummy time just made it a lot more worth it!
Another pump that is semi-portable and sometimes covered by insurance is the Spectra S1 Plus. This is the one I currently use and couldn’t be happier with it! The pump is chargeable so you can move around with it.
You still have to carry around the electric pump and have bottles hanging off your chest, but with the flexibility of being able to move around, it makes it totally worth it! I can still cook dinner and play with my toddler while pumping. That’s multitasking at it’s finest!
Related Post: Honest Review of the Freemie Nuk Simply Natural Wearable BreastPump
7. Use bags for freezer storage
You can’t freeze a large supply of milk in bottles so you’ll want to store your milk in bags. These Lansinoh bags are the highest quality as they’re a thick plastic, BPA-free, and long enough to make the milk freeze flat.
These ones even come with adapters that fit on a large variety of breast pumps (including the Spectra).
8. Pump directly into bags
In an effort to not have to pour the milk from bottles to bags and risk spilling, just pump directly into the bags. It saves you 2 steps (pouring and washing) so definitely more convenient!
You’ll probably have to purchase the adapters on your own, as they typically don’t come with insurance pumps. These adapters will attach right to your Spectra pump and allow you to hook the bag right on with no spilling possible! They make adapters for all pumps too!
9. Use a silicone pump while feeding
This is one of the best tips you’ll see when it comes to gathering extra milk!
When you are breastfeeding your baby on one side, your other breast will begin to leak because it’s impossible to just have a let down in one breast at a time. Most women will just have it get soaked up in a breast pad, but there’s so much milk still there!
Instead of wasting the milk that leaks out and just letting it soak up a nursing pad, save it to increase your freezer stash!
This silicone breast pump (Haakaa) attaches to your opposite breast through suction while feeding your baby. It stimulates even more let down in that breast to catch any of the extra milk that would leak out, plus even more!
If you already have an oversupply, you could end up saving a ton of milk this way. Even if you have an average supply, the extra ounce or two can really add up!
10. Pump during any free time you have
It can be hard to find the time to pump, especially when it’s not just instead of a feeding. If you have more than one child or have already gone back to work, it can be even harder.
To maximize your breastmilk stockpile, you may need to use your only precious few free minutes of the day to be tied to your pump.
I know you may be thinking, but what if I have no free time?! Try pumping during your baby’s naps, waking up before baby, and after he goes to sleep.
This is also when those wearable/portable pumps can really be an advantage.
11. Pump right after a feeding
If your baby didn’t fully empty out your breast, you can pump out the remainder so your body will continue to produce that much at that time. It’s best to pump RIGHT after feedings because you want there to be enough milk present for your next feeding.
For example, if you pump an hour and a half after a feeding, that only gives your body an hour and a half to replenish the milk. If you pumped right after, your body would have the full 3 hours to replenish in time for your baby’s next feeding.
12. Pump as often as you can
If you really want to be a marathon pumper, try pumping 3 times a day. Once first thing in the morning, another time during a nap, and last time after they go to sleep for the night.
13. Use herbal supplements to increase supply
You want to give your body a few weeks to get regulated on producing your natural milk supply first. So unless you need your breastmilk freezer stash to grow that quickly, I wouldn’t suggest starting the herbal supplements until you really feel that your supply is dipping.
I noticed my supply dropping around 3-4 months postpartum. I knew I was producing enough to keep my baby fed, but not enough to continue growing my freezer stash. That’s when I decided to use Fenugreek as an aid to increase my milk production.
Fenugreek is the most common supplement that you can take orally to increase your supply. It has helped me tremendously with both of my babies.
I noticed a dramatic increase in my breast milk production within 1 day for my first baby and about 5 days for my second. I was truly amazed at how one little pill could produce such amazing results!
What’s great about Fenugreek is that it’s so cheap! You don’t have to spend a fortune on these high end supplements that promise to increase your production given the off chance that they may not work. You can find Fenugreek over-the-counter at any pharmacy or large retail store (Target, Walmart, etc.)
There are several other herbal supplements out there, like PureMom Breastfeeding Supplement if pure Fenugreek doesn’t work for you. Most have Fenugreek as their base and just combine some other lactation stimulating ingredients, like Milk Thistle.
If you’d rather have a snack that can increase your supply, try Boobie Bars. These were actually delicious and really work, as well!
14. Take a Pumping Course
There is seriously so much overwhelming information out there about breastfeeding and pumping. Find a course that you trust that will give you plenty of informative and honest information.
This Breast Pumping Course from Milkology is seriously everything you will need to learn the basics and tricks of pumping. Reading information can be so confusing, but watching videos is much easier for you to absorb all the info.
The Milkology Pumping Course goes over everything you need to know. It’s definitely worth the small fee and your time to watch this informative video. The best part is that you can do it all from the comfort of your home!
15. Start baby with a bottle by 4 weeks
If you have been exclusively breastfeeding your baby, you want to introduce a bottle sooner rather than later. Once you’re sure that they’re latching well and have become an efficient suckler, you can introduce the bottle for a feeding here and there.
This will ensure that they won’t be refusing the bottle when it’s offered to them and that you can fully use the breastmilk supply that you’ve stockpiled.
16. Pump for about 10 minutes at a time
There’s no reason to pump for much longer than that in one session. It will only stress you out more if you try to pump for any longer.
17. Massage your breasts during pumping
Massaging your breast while pumping increases the milk flow through all the ducts in your breast. It will help the milk to come out faster and more efficiently.
18. Use an electric pump at all times
As stated above, an electric pump is the most efficient means of pumping. A manual will just tire you out and may not provide enough suction to your breast. It also reduces the amount of multitasking that you can do while pumping!
Most insurances cover an electric breast pump in full. Find out if yours qualifies for a breast pump free of charge here.
I hope you found this guide on how to stockpile breastmilk informative and helpful. If you follow all of these helpful tips, you will be on your way to building that breastmilk freezer stash of your dreams!
Just keep at it and be consistent. You can do it mama!