Tuesday, September 3, 2013

TBD: The Freezer Stash

I've been featuring some amazing ladies on The Breastfeeding Diaries this summer. If you have a story to tell about your experience breastfeeding, I'd love to share it!

The Freezer Stash

This week I'm talking about the freezer stash. Something I never even considered before Fynn was born. I remember sitting my my support group on a Tuesday afternoon when Fynn was about weeks old. One of the moms was freaking out because she was going back to work and she only had 50 ounces frozen.

I remember sitting there and thinking. Crap! I don't have any frozen breast milk... do I need to freeze some? What do I do with frozen milk anyways? So I listened carefully to find out more... and then went home and frantically pumped and froze everything I could for the next couple of weeks.

Was I overreacting? Obviously. But since that time I have learned just how important a good stash of frozen breastmilk can be. 

Why have frozen breast milk?

  1. In case you get sick. When I had mastitis, my supply dropped lower than a pole dancer trying to get some tips. Fynn would nurse for an hour at a time and still be famished. Having that extra milk that I could warm up and give her in a bottle meant I didn't have to supplement with formula. 
  2. For those days where you can't pump. Whether you're working, on a car ride, or just forget your pump there is going to come a time when you're away from your baby and can't pump. 
  3. For times when you're unexpectedly away from your baby. Running late when you're doing errands? Thought you'd be home in time for the next feeding? Having that safety net of frozen milk makes it less stressful and allows your caregiver to feed the baby.
  4. Clumsy days. We all have them. You just pumped the most milk you've ever gotten at one pumping session. What happens next? Yup, you bump into and send your precious milk all over the floor. 
  5. For low output days. For a long time, I needed to pump 16 ounces a day at work to cover what Fynn needed at daycare each day. Occasionally there were days when I just didn't get enough and had to pull a couple of ounces from the freezer.
  6. For peace of mind. This is the biggest for me. Things come up. Having a decent stash in the freezer made me feel better that if something happened, she would still have breastmilk.
How to build a freezer stash
Pump! Any time you pump more than you baby needs for the next time you're apart, freeze it. Add in an extra pump session after baby goes to bed at night or pump a few minutes longer to get an extra ounce or two. I made a point to pump when I was home with her at night and on weekends to get extra. You'll be surprised how quickly those ounces add up. 

How much do you need?

Currently I have about 100 ounces stashed in there. Do I really need that much? Probably not, but I'd rather have too much then not enough. When Fynn was about 6 weeks old I had 60 ounces and I got mastitis. The infection caused my milk supply to tank and we used all that stored milk up in a couple of days to make up for what I wasn't producing. I was so glad I had started saving some. There's no magic number of how many ounces you should save... just go with what feels right. I always felt like I needed to have a large stash, and I'm glad I did because it meant that I always felt confident that I would have lots of milk available if something happened. I'm loving it right now because I'm weaning myself from pumping at work, but I still want Fynn to get breastmilk at daycare during the day. Right now I'm pumping once a day and getting about 4 ounces, and sending 8 ounces of milk to daycare. My plan is to keep sending her frozen milk until we run out and then switching to her having whole milk at daycare.

What happens if I lose power?

I was so freaked out about this last winter. Hello, it's Maine here. We're known for snowstorms that leave us without power for days... what would happen to my precious milk supply if we lost power? Luckily, KellyMom has a great resource all about this. Basically as long as there are ice crystals still in the milk (meaning it hasn't completely thawed) then the milk is fine, you can refreeze it and be good to go. If you do lose power, just make sure you don't open your freezer at all, because that will keep things frozen for longer. If it's going to be too long, you can use a generator (if you have one) run your milk to a friends house (hey, desperate times call for desperate measures) or harness the power of all that snow to keep milk cold.

What do you think?

How much is enough? How much milk did you or will you bank for your baby? What else should people know about building a freezer stash of breastmilk? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I'm due with my first in January and had not thought about freezing breast milk till I saw this post! Since the little one will be in daycare 2-3 days a week it's important that I pump and have a good supply stashed! Thanks for the great info!

  2. Thanks to a massive oversupply issue, I ended up with over 300 ounces in my freezer. Thank goodness we have a deep freezer because it was packed with milk. Once Aubrey was about 18-19 months old, I developed mastitis and huge cuts on one nipple. At that point, I pretty much stopped pumping 3 times a day and just did one time because the pain was so bad. Luckily I had my stash and used it up in the next few months. I used my stash for daycare and when I was away from Aubrey but I just kept getting milk. I ended up not pumping again after the mastitis and cuts but I continued to nurse just before Aubrey's bedtime until she was 21 months old. I am so thankful for that stash of frozen milk so I was able to give my milk to Aubrey longer than 18 months of age.


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