While breastfeeding is truly a beautiful and wonderful experience, there will be a time when you’ll be looking to build an emergency milk stash.
You just never know what might happen – you little one might actually let you leave for a date night, you have to leave overnight for a family emergency, you want to make baby food with it, you start giving little one milk baths, or maybe you’ll even try to donate your milk. Whatever the reason, it’s always good to have a stash built up for when the need arises.
When Miss M was only 6 months old, we thought I was going to need to head back to work. Thankfully, not long after I started finding clients to keep me home 🙂 But before those opportunities came along, I started pumping a crazy amount to get ready for long hours apart. Through doing that, I learned some really useful tips to build an emergency milk stash.
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Items needed to build an emergency milk stash
First off, have the materials to help build an emergency milk stash
You obviously can’t pump if you don’t have the proper materials. I’ve linked them above, but let me explain why I like these products so much. I didn’t link them for the heck of it – these are the exact products I use when I pump.
Evenflo single electric pump: If you’re a working mother, you may want to get the double electric since you will be using it waaaaaay more often than I do. For me, the single electric pump worked just fine. However, if you are bigger in size, keep in mind that you may need to purchase an additional set of flanges. This happened for me as I just cannot fit inside the ones they come with! (Which is crazy since I used to be much smaller!) This pump got the milk out at a reasonable rate, has the option for batteries or power cord, and makes pumping very easy. Highly recommend this pump!
Breastmilk storage bags: I use the ones by Lansinoh because the hospital sent me home with some when I had Miss M. They’re what I’ve always used and I love that there is an area for the amount and date/time. I also love that there is a spout for when I need to dump the milk into a cup or bottle. But I’m sure any breast milk storage bag will have the same features so you can use whatever brand floats your boat!
Lanolin nipple cream: I have way more products that I recommend to ease the pain on your breasts, but this is the stuff I keep using over and over. It’s a thick cream that you just rub on your nipples when they get sore and they generally help soothe it. Pumping can do a number on your breasts but this nipple cream has been my life saver!
If you need any other recommendations, I am more than happy to send you in the right direction!
Know when you will pump and how much when you build an emergency milk stash
This portion is pretty important as it is what determines how successful you are with your pumping. If approached strategically, you will pump a great deal when trying to build an emergency milk stash for your little one. In regards to schedules and amounts, I have a few important tips for you.
Try and pump in the morning: You produce the most milk first thing in the morning so if you can wake up before your little one does and get in a pumping session, you will do much better. Unfortunately, I could never do this myself, hah. But I do know I would have gotten more if I had since I always feel extra full first thing in the morning.
Create a schedule: I always tried to pump at the same time every day when I was building my stash. Miss M has always taken her one nap at the exact same time every day so it’s easy to work around. I would spend about 20 minutes a day pumping. But do what works for you! Pump at a time that works easy into your schedule. Even if that’s first thing in the morning or last thing at night. And you don’t need to wait until your baby is asleep. If you “empty”, putting her on the breast will stimulate for you to produce more. It’s a supply and demand system, after all.
Do not pump too much: Pumping is great for building a supply but it’s better to do it slowly as opposed to pumping a crazy amount all at once. Increasing your daily amount by a few ounces won’t make a difference but if you start trying to pump an additional 10-20+ ounces a day, your body is going to pick up on that. You will start overproducing and this can lead to things like metastasis or clogged ducts.
Effectively freeze your milk when you build an emergency milk stash
This one makes me laugh quite a bit as I look back now, hah! I used to just fill a bag and throw it in the freezer but now I know that is absolutely not the way to do it whatsoever. To prevent you from making these mistakes, I have some more tips regarding freezing your milk.
Store small amounts: Since you never know how much you will need to thaw out at a time, it’s better to freeze in 2-3oz increments. This way, you know it will all get used as opposed to storing in 5oz increments and only using half.
Always lay it flat to freeze: You’ll notice in the images in this post, that some of the bags not only have large amounts, but they also were not frozen flat. This makes it hard to store in the freezer without taking up lots of space. Find an area of your freezer to lay it flat until it is frozen, then you can move it to another area or the container you’re using.
Store by date: I always write the amount and date and time on my milk bags. But it’s also important to take them out in the right order. You can ask a friend to save the box to a 12-pack of soda and use that for storage. Just make sure to have the oldest in front as you pull it out and the newest in the back. Milk is only good for 6-12 months (preferably only 6) so you need to use it while it’s still good.
I know that planning to pump and store some milk is a huge commitment. I’m very certain that if I was able to build a stash of 40+ ounches than anyone can do it. It can be tough to build an emergency milk stash, but you can do it mama!