This is an area I didn’t even think about until I had my first baby. THANKFULLY someone recommended the website kellymom.com. It’s chalk full of good advice for nursing moms. My favorite part of the site is the Breastmilk Storage Guidelines. I printed this chart off and taped it to the inside of the cabinet where I keep the bottles and breastmilk storage items. It tells you how long milk can sit out, how long it can be in the refrigerator, and how long it can be in the freezer.
I have the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump and love it! If you plan to pump a lot, it is totally worth spending your money on this. I also use a pumping bra which free up my hands during pumping. If you have to sit there, you might as well be comfortable and multitask, even if that means escaping reality and playing Candy Crush.
Since I am a stay at home mom with no plans to go back to work any time soon, I don’t pump much. My baby refuses a bottle right now, so I just pump enough milk to mix with his oatmeal. Pumping in the morning is typically the best for me. If my baby sleeps through the night, I will wake up engorged, and there is no way he could even empty one side.
After I finish feeding and burping the baby, I begin pumping. You want to do it soon after you feed the baby so your breasts have time to fill back up before the next feeding. The photo below shows the milk that I was able to pump this morning. It’s quite obvious to see which side the baby nursed.
Before I do anything else, I like to label the containers I will store the milk in. I typically store the milk in the containers I pump into. My favorite are the Medela 5oz. storage bottles.
To label the containers, I just use scotch tape and a permanent marker. I take a piece of tape as show in the photo below and fold over about 1/4 of it back on itself.
All I do next is stick it to the container and write the date on it with a permanent marker. The purpose of folding over the one side is to easily remove it when you go to wash the containers later. Mine typically get thrown in the sink, and I forget to remove it until it’s soaked in the hot soapy water for a while.
The next thing I do is combine the milk from both containers. If you look closely, you can see that the milk on the right is darker than the milk on the left. That is because the milk on the right came from the side I had just nursed on, the darker color means it mostly hind milk, the fattier milk. The milk on the left has more foremilk in it.
To mix, I simply pour the milk into each other a few times until the coloring looks identical on both sides. I try to even out the amount in each container. Stick to increments of 2oz. if you can, this will be helpful when you go to use this milk later for bottles or cereal.
After the milk has been in the refrigerator for a while, it will begin to separate. There should be a nice layer of “cream” on the top. If you don’t see a nice layer of the good, creamy milk on top, go and eat a big, juicy cheeseburger, seriously!
When you go to use this milk later, whether to give it to the baby or put it in different containers to freeze, it’s important to blend the milk layers again. To do this you need to swirl the milk in a circular type fashion. I’m not exactly sure why, but all of the lactation consultants have told me shaking the breastmilk like you would formula is a big no-no. In this case, I wasn’t going to use this milk within 3 days, the appropriate time shown on the storage guidelines from kellymom.com, so I decided to freeze it. I did the fun swirl dance to mix in the cream layer again, and separated it into freezer bags, 2oz. each, and labeled their quantity and date on the storage bag itself.
I put them in the freezer as flat as I can and once frozen flat, they store nice and neat in your freezer! It’s really quite easy!
With my first baby, I pumped WAY MORE than I needed to. I seriously had a 3 month supply in the freezer that I ended up giving a friend in need because I wasn’t going to use it. Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. Realize your true demands and your supply will meet you there. Happy pumping!