Pumping 101: How to Build a Massive Breast Milk Stash While on Maternity Leave
Youâ€™re a new mama and you just started breastfeeding. Now youâ€™re wondering, should I pump if Iâ€™m exclusively breastfeeding? How much and how often should I be pumping? How much breast milk do I really need to store while on maternity leave? And what are the benefits of pumping?
Pumping breast milk allows you to store milk for when you are away from your baby. This makes it easier for other family members to feed your child while you are at work or doing errands.
With both of my pregnancies, I was exclusively breastfeeding. I started pumping as early as two weeks after the delivery of my son. With my first child, I was able to store as much as 1000 oz in the freezer at one point. This may seem excessive, but with a growing, hungry baby, your breast milk storage can diminish quickly!
Here are some tips to guide you to build a massive breast milk stash!
1. Start pumping early- This is the biggest and best advice I can offer you. The earlier you start, the more milk you will be able to produce and store! I gave myself a two week grace period to adjust to breastfeeding. Once I got comfortable with routine breastfeeding, I started pumping every opportunity I had with every feeding. I typically pump 6-9 times a day. Keep in mind I only pump while at home. And yes, I even pump with every feeding in the middle of the night.
2. Breastfeed and pump simultaneously- This may appear to be complicated at first, but with time and practice, it becomes much easier. I breastfeed on one breast and pump on the other and rotate it with each feeding. This is the MOST EFFICIENT way to feed your baby and store breast milk at the same time. I breastfeed and pump for 15-25 minutes in the first month, and as my baby becomes more competent with sucking, I decrease feeding/ pumping time to 10-15 minutes. I was storing roughly 20 oz of milk daily after the first few weeks.
3. Wear a hands-free pump friendly bra- Buy multiple ones! This will allow you to free your hands to do other things. I found an affordable yet functional hands-free pumping bra that I love from Amazon: Hands Free Bra
4. Label your breast milk (date and amount)- Breast milk lasts in the freezer for up to 6 months. It is important to label and use the oldest bags first. I would recommend storing 3oz per bag for at least 10-15 bags, and then store 5oz bags afterwards. The 3oz bags will be used when your baby eats only a small amount in the beginning. As his abdomen expands, he will be able to drink up to 5oz or more per feeding.
5. Store breast milk in storage bags flat in the freezer- This one is important. You should always store your bags laying flat, not standing up, so it takes up less space in the freezer. Over time, you will collect heaps of breast milk storage bags and it will take up too much space in your freezer. My favorite storage bags are the Lansinoh bags! It can easily store up to 5 oz and lays flat easily. Lansinoh Milk Storage Bags
6. Always pump in the morning - Between 3- 6am, your body produces the most breast milk. It is important to utilize this time and pump as much as possible.
7. Buy multiple pump parts - I have 4 sets of pump parts and 9 pumping bottles. I bought them off Amazon! Medella Pump Parts
8. Keep a pumping cart loaded with all your pumping essentials next to your rocking chair- I have all my pumping supplies in this cart, including: breast pads, a gallon water bottle, burp rags, Vitamin D drops, blanket, and lip balm.
9. Pump regularly at the same time to keep your breast milk supply up! Drink plenty of water- at least Â½ your body weight in ounces + 20oz.
10. Buy an electric and manual pump! An electric pump should be provided by your insurance. I've used both the Medella and the Ameda pump and they both work great! I have no issues with either one of them. I've used the Medella manual pump as well. I prefer not to use a manual pump (it's so much work and causes my fingers to cramp up!) , but I will take it with me as needed.
Above all, remember that breastfeeding and pumping requires a lot of patience and time. Give yourself grace and enjoy this time with your little one!