How I saved over 1,200 oz of Breast Milk in 3 months!
HOW I SAVED OVER 1,200 OUNCES OF BREAST MILK IN 3 MONTHS
Breast milk is best. We hear it from the doctors, nurses, lactation consultants but most importantly I can see it from my baby. Not all mothers can provide breast milk for their babies and some have a very difficult time producing enough. Fortunately that was not an issue for me. Having 3 babies in the last 6 years I have had my share of breast feeding and pumping milk. With each baby I returned to work after 12 week maternity leave and knew if I wanted to get to at least 12 months of breast feeding I would NEED to pump from day 1. These are the 9 tips I have to share about how I was able to save over 1,200 ounces of milk in the first 3 months after baby was born. This gave me a strong reserve of milk to get me back to work and not stress about going back to work.
9 tips to saving LOTS of breast milk
- Start right away
- Drink lots of water
- Eat right
- Don’t drink
- Clean, sterilize, pump & repeat
- Have father support you
- Storage and organization
- Keep it up even when you want to quit
1. Start right away!
This is a challenge, when you come home from the hospital with a new born baby you are supposed to take time and pump extra milk. What? How do you find the time? Somehow you make the time. When baby is sleeping or an hour after baby just ate. Find a time that works for you consistently. I’ll say it again, CONSISTENTLY! The best advice I can give is that breast feeding is supply and demand. If the baby wants more milk and eats more you will produce more tomorrow to meet the demand. If you start pumping today (yes, because you don’t have a supply you won’t get much) the first times you pump at a regular time you will get 1 ounce. When you look and say how does that work 1 ounce at a time? If you do it again tomorrow and the next day and the next your supply will grow. After a short time I was able to build in 2 pumpings each day along with feeding my baby all of the milk he needed. In those 2 pumpings I was able to save 3 bags (18 ounces per day on average). That allowed me to save over 1,200 ounces before I returned to work at 12 weeks of maternity leave.
With all 3 of my babies I saved a chest freezer FULL of milk. We didn’t have room for much freezer food due to all of the breast milk. I even donated milk to our Mother’s Milk Bank because I was out of freezer space. A good problem to have!
For my 3rd baby I chose to pump around 8am (this was after the oldest went to school) and then the 2nd time was before I went to bed.
2. Drink Lots of Water
Think about it, I just said that I was pumping 18 extra ounces of milk per day in addition to what my baby was eating. You MUST drink a lot of water to produce milk. When I would find that I was busy I would drink less water and my supply would change. Keep on drinking, drink water while you pump, drink after. However you do it, keep up the water to continue your milk production. If you drink caffeine, remember that affects baby through the milk. Consult with your medical provider for more information of caffeine and breast milk.
3. Eat Right
You don’t get to stop eating healthy after pregnancy when you are breast feeding. Eating healthy is good for you and baby. Some moms find that eating certain foods affect baby’s digesting, for example baby may get gas from eating certain foods. Luckily I never had any major issues so I didn’t have to restrict my diet while pumping milk.
4. Don’t drink
Some mom’s are ready for some alcohol after they went 9 months with no alcohol. You can “pump and dump” if you are drinking. Remember the same rules apply to keep up your supply. If you want to maintain supply you will want to pump at the same intervals you feed baby and have for extra pumpings. That is A LOT of work so I rarely decided to drink and pump!
Getting rest and sleeping when you can is important. I know as new mom’s you have read about resting when baby sleeps and don’t worry about cleaning… it is true when baby takes naps take advantage of that time and try to get a little nap in too. I miss those short little naps while I was home with baby. Keeping you rested all contributes to you producing good milk and enough for baby and you extra supply!
6. Clean, sterilize, pump & repeat
Oh man, I would have kept on breast feeding and pumping even after 12 months if I could skip the cleaning and sterilizing steps to all of those pump parts! After cleaning them multiple times per day every day I was ready to stop pumping. As I write this my 3rd baby is 4 months old so I’m actively pumping and keeping up my energy to keep cleaning and sterilizing. Follow the directions on your pump to know what is recommended for cleaning all of it!
7. Have father support you
This can mean multiple things. Baby daddy can support you by giving you time to take a bath, eat, get you water, take a nap, make dinner, he can hold baby, clean baby’s diaper, he can clean your pump items :), etc. My hubby was very supportive of me pumping and breast feeding. He didn’t want us to use formula if I could produce milk and the more I stored the more likely baby would have 12 months of breast milk. His support did help me get all the way to 12 months with my first two babies and so far so good with baby #3!
8. Storage and organization
When you have over 100 bags in the freezer you need them labeled and organized! Depending on your storage space you will have to see what works for you. I started by freezing them in our kitchen freezer then after I got enough for a full bag (of 9 in a gallon ziplock bag) I would label and store it in the chest freezer. With our first baby I purchased short plastic stack-able containers, but this got cumbersome and I still had to collect them to send to daycare. The ziplocks work the best as I have them even labeled with which bag it is, ziplock bag #20 (x 9 in each= 180 milk bags). That too was motivating to see how many I could save. Also now that I’m back at work I was able to send the ziplock bag with baby to daycare using the oldest first.
9. Keep it up even when you want to quit
My goal is to make sure baby has breast milk for 1 year. I know what I need to do to keep up my supply (eat, rest, drink, and consistent pumping are all needed). Each time after returning to work I relax a little and have taken out the “extra pumpings” and only pump 1 time during the day. I’d advise doing at least 2 or 3 pumpings but that depends on what time you can get away from work to pump. Doing only 1 pumping I tend to pump around 16-18 ounces which for my 4 month old isn’t even enough milk as he eats close to 20 or 24 ounces (just during the day). Big eater!!! The almost 200 bags I saved in the first 3 months allows me to relax a little and not stress about how much baby is eating. Since he is eating so much I’m pumping again 2x per day and with consistency I am pumping another 6 ounces which is what he is eating. I know what I need to do and keep it up even when I tire of cleaning the pump supplies!
Not all mom’s can breast feed and not all are able to pump extra like I am fortunate to do. If you can that is wonderful! If you are struggling with breast feeding, please contact your physician or lactation consultant for advice. Breast feeding is one of the most rewarding things I have done with each of my babies. I love it! I love it even when baby has teeth! I love the time I get to sit down and love my baby while I know I’m providing him all he needs!
Good Luck in your breast feeding!