Breastfeeding mums returning to work often have this concern: How much breast milk do I need to store so my baby won’t go hungry while I’m away? While most mothers think they’ll need to fill their freezers, the truth is you won’t need to pump yourself dry to build an adequate breast milk stash.
With efficient planning, helpful tools and the right pumping strategy, you can stockpile enough breast milk to keep your little one fed while you’re at work. Here’s a guide to help you.
How to Build a Breast Milk Stash
Building your breast milk stash will depend on several factors: Your baby’s age, volume consumption, and number of feeding sessions.
Estimate how much breast milk your baby will consume in 1 workday.
Babies between 2 and 5 months typically consume around 118 to 177 mL of milk for each feeding every 3 to 4 hours. Those at 6 months old and above may drink as much as 236.5 mL each feeding, but they can also sometimes go 5 hours between feedings, especially when they’ve been introduced to solid food. Remember that every baby is different – some may drink smaller portions but feed frequently, while others may drink more but need fewer feeding sessions.
For mums leaving their 2 month olds for 8 hours a day, they will need to leave about 354 to 531 mL of breast milk per day. Babies at 6 months may require about 473 mL for the 8 hours that mum will not be around.
Remember to store breast milk in small amounts, equivalent to 1 feeding session. Defrost only what you need because once milk has thawed, it is no longer recommended to put it back in the freezer.
Stock up on 3 to 4 days' worth of milk before returning to work.
Don’t be intimidated by photos of mums on social media with freezers overflowing with breast milk. You will only need to stash up to 4 days worth of liquid gold before your start date since you’ll be able to continue expressing milk at work. Remember that the fresher the milk, the more preferable it is for consumption.
Use freezer friendly storage bags like the Eonian Care Breast Milk Storage Bags with 2 Pump Adapters. These are pre sterilised, BPA free and easily attach to your breast pumps to lessen the chances of contamination. They are also compact, extra thick and fridge and freezer safe to ensure none of your milk goes to waste. Plus, easily keep track of your breast milk with the help of the write on labels!
Stick to a consistent pumping schedule.
Pumping milk at the same time each day encourages your body to produce more milk as it learns how much it needs to provide daily. It is better to pump right after the first morning feed, as most women find they get the most milk at this time of day. You can try massaging your breast before you pump to stimulate your milk glands and make the milk flow easily.
Choosing a high quality double breast pump like the Eonian Care Smart Double Electric Breast Pump can also potentially increase your breast milk supply as the extra stimulation can trigger letdown and encourage milk production. If you’re blessed with an abundant milk supply, it can also help to fully empty the breasts to prevent breastfeeding problems like clogged ducts, which can lead to mastitis.
Don’t forget to introduce your baby to the bottle.
Transitioning from breast to bottle is important, especially if you’re returning to work but still want to continue your breastfeeding journey. You can start introducing the bottle as early as 4 weeks old, aiming for about 5 times a week. Check how comfortable your little one is with the bottle and how much they might drink from it for each session. Have your partner or potential caregiver do it so your little one will not get nipple confusion and get used to not having you around.
Make the transition easier by choosing bottles with slow flow nipples close to the real ones, like the Eonian Care Baby Bottles and Slow Flow Teats. The soft silicone teats mimic a mum’s natural lactating breast and promote easy latch on, encouraging baby’s natural sucking pattern. The built in anti colic ventilation hole also prevents excessive air intake to avoid tummy upset.
The thought of leaving your little one to return to work can trigger mum guilt, but remember to be kind to yourself. With Eonian Care’s smart baby solutions, you can continue your breastfeeding journey while pursuing a career. You can do it, mum!Want to learn the dos and don’ts of storing breast milk for your milk stash? Read more here. Sign up for our newsletter to get more breastfeeding tips and solutions!