She Says… Milk Bank

Yesterday I went to a class (at Isis… the same place I do my Mommy Group) on pumping. Although I’ve been pumping for awhile, and I’ve learned how to pump so I get my goal amount of milk each day, I still feel like I do not pump as much as others do, or as much as I should be able to.

Usually I shoot to put away one bottle of milk per day in the freezer. For awhile that was 3 oz, and recently I’ve upped it to 5 oz (since I’m working on spacing out his nursing times to 3 or 4 hours instead of 2 during the day, and we have a pretty good amount of frozen 3 oz bottles). We try to give Owen a bottle every other day, so slowly but surely this two-bottles-stored-one-bottle-used approach has built up a nice little freezer of relief bottles. Starting in January I’m going to need to supply all of the milk for Owen to have at daycare, so I figure I’d better get good at pumping now, and begin putting milk away for later.

Unfortunately for me, I seem to be a low producer. Or rather, not a low producer of milk in general (since Owen is gaining exactly the amount of weight he is supposed to), but a low producer when it comes to the pump. The pump and I just don’t jive! If I haven’t fed Owen in awhile (like when I pump at “my” bedtime, which is usually 2 hours after his bedtime), I can usually get about 2 – 2.5 oz from both sides combined. That’s 1/2 a bottle. If Owen has recently eaten (like when I pump right after feeding him), I usually get about 1.5 oz. That means I have to pump 2 – 3 times to make one bottle. Although January is still a few months away, I am nervous about not being able to pump enough milk each day to send with him to daycare the next day.

I learned a lot at the pump class. The 2 main things I’m trying already are bigger breast shields (my Pump In Style came with 24mm ones, but Nancy, the Pump Talk instructor, said that about 30% of women would do better with 27mm, so I picked up a set of those) and a hands free bustier pumping bra (hubba hubba!). Nancy also suggested that I try a version of power pumping, which is to double pump for 10 minutes after each nursing session with Owen throughout the day. Mostly that’s to increase milk supply and get my hormones going, but I tried it over the weekend and got the added bonus of a few ounces of milk, which made it easier to reach my daily goal.

Anyway, in class people were talking about how much milk they have on hand, or in the freezer, and I began to realize that I’ve been doing a great job putting milk away! So great, actually, that our freezer is a bit of a mess.

Exhibit A:

Ooops! I took the first step to total milk organization by using Lansinoh freezer bags to store my milk, but as they piled up, I never took the time to get them in a Tupperware or box to corral them. Hence our freezer overflowing with milk!

So, on this week’s To Do list is to organize that milk. I’ve heard you’re not supposed to store milk in the door or on the bottom shelf (since those places change temps the most)… so I’m looking for a solution that will fit on one of the upper shelves. Oh, and buying a chest freezer is probably not necessary for us, since it sounds like once Owen starts daycare, I should be sending him with fresh milk daily, and only dipping into my freezer storage once in awhile.

What do other people do for milk storage? Anyone found the perfect solution? Tupperware? Shoebox? Something else?

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17 responses to “She Says… Milk Bank

  1. It looks like your freezer may not accomodate the “gift bag” method, but this is my favorite storage trick: http://greenlitebites.com/BreastMilk/
    It allows you to store and organize so you are always pulling the oldest first in a tidy little system.

  2. Hey! When did you start pumping? I have started a bit, mostly because my mother-in-law has been here and helping with one nighttime feeding but I also need to start getting a supply together because I go back after Thanksgiving. I would love to know when you started, I’ve heard different opinions. Your class sounds great!

  3. I just put them wherever I could in the freezer when I pumped, but my friend who is pumping now, they went and bought a small deep freezer and keep their food in that and the milk in plastic cartons she got from Target in the regular freezer. Her baby doesn’t nurse at all, but she pumps for her, so she has TONS of milk in there.

  4. Deep freezer in the garage!

  5. I can’t help you out, I stored mine in our upright deep freezer in the basement. Just make sure you defrost those bags in a bowl or something, they occasionally get a small hole and leak and you don’t want to lose any hard earned milk. Also, never put those bags into a bottle warmer directly. I learned the hard way that the plastic kind of melts. Either defrost or warm under warm water or pour into a bottle directly.

    I’m so proud that you’re sticking with the pumping, I know it’s not easy!

  6. I stored mine in our separate standing freezer, so I’m not much help with that one, though I kept mine in a gallon Ziplock bag to keep it all together. Something to keep in mind with pumping too is that most women get more in the morning, so hopefully you’ll not have trouble getting what you need when you return to work.

  7. Long time lurker here,

    I’m a m aure you have thought of it already but what about expressing by hand ??

    Milk pumps got nothing , not a drop out of me, but then I never had any problems with leakage either so I think my milk ducts just closed up super tight !!

    But with hand espressing I could get some milk. A bit more “involved ” than a milk pump buuuut I used a fresh milk bag from a roll, put it over a bottle and expressed directly in to the bag , voila ! No sterilising of equipment. and that made it easier to just express 1/2 oz without all the faff.

    Worked for me !

  8. I’m lucky and get to be with my baby all the time so I don’t have to pump at all but I would think you shouldn’t have to worry so much about your storage!! When you’re back at work you’ll be pumping every day at work when you aren’t with him so you should be good! I commend you on keeping up the breastmilk when he goes to daycare!!!

  9. Just wanted to de-lurk and say a huge thanks! My baby’s 3 weeks old and I learn a ton from your posts. I’m planning on pumping starting next week, and this post is really helpful.

    Thank you!

  10. I pump for about 20 minutes directly after Liam’s first feeding every day. I’ve been really lucky and have responded well to the pump, although my left side seems to produce WAY more than my right. On average, I’m getting about 4 oz (combined) each session. Sometimes I pump late afternoon as well– even though I seem to have PLENTY of milk (it’s often dripping before Liam can even latch on) I want to encourage my body to make as much milk as possible while my supply is still regulating. Since Liam is two weeks old, I figure that it will be much easier to decrease my supply if needed, rather than try to increase it.

    I had to get the 27mm flanges, too– the 24mm ones were pinching me!!

    I have one of these: http://www.amazon.com/First-Years-Milk-Storage-Organizer/dp/B000K4YSVI — it accomodates any brand storage bag. As for hands free pumping, I just cut two holes in a snug sports bra. Works like a charm!

  11. May be a stupid question but why don’t you just pump at work when you get back? Is that not allowed in the US? Might be a very stupid question but I’m from the Netherlands and here women are allowed by law to pump at work for 25% of their workday until their baby is 9 months old. Companies also have to facilitate a space for them to do it.

    Irene

  12. I second the gift bag system recommendation! Works like a charm and makes for a nice organized freezer! I think if you took that shelf divider thingy off your top shelf, you would be able to fit a couple of bags. I would also highly recommend a deep freezer, you can get a small one for around $200 (we got ours at Sears). I keep 2 gift bags in my regular freezer, one with the oldest milk which I use for Monday bottles (I freeze the milk I pump at work on Fridays to try and cycle through the freezer stash before it “expires”) and one that I add new milk to. When I fill that one up, I move it to the deep freezer with the rest of my stash.

    Looks like you have a great start on your freezer stash! I wouldn’t worry too much yet about not pumping enough when you go back– you’ll be pumping at times when you usually feed him, as opposed to extra pumping sessions, so you’ll probably find that you get enough!

  13. @Irene– Pumping at work is allowed, and as long as the company has above a certain number of employees, they are required to provide a space for it. I think a lot of us just like to build up a freezer stash to have as a “safety net” in case it takes some time to adjust to pumping enough to send to daycare each day, if that makes sense. Or at least that’s why I started pumping on maternity leave 🙂

  14. I was reading about pumping on Kelly Mom this morning and thought you might want to check out this link: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/pumping_decrease.html

    I thought the section about normal pumping output was interesting! It says that the average nursing mother will only get around 1/2 oz to 2 oz per pumping session and that it’s not uncommon for women to have to pump 2-3 times to get enough milk for one feeding! According to this article, the 4 oz I’m getting “is an unusually large pumping output” and is most likely because my supply is still regulating. 🙂

  15. I use our large chest freezer, so I’m not much help (although we did get the freezer for $80 on craigslist, if you think you’ll need one. Also allows us to purchase bulk organic meats…but that is another story). Anyhow, I’m just wondering if you are starting to feel like you’re “chained to the pump.” I’m getting seriously sick of sitting this, listening to the “whir, whir” of it…I’m having a hard time motivating myself to pump these days, even though I know it is best for baby! It seems like you are doing so well with your constant pumping, I’d love advice on your motivation!

  16. Be careful with these freezer bags! I am also currently nursing. I have a deep freezer full of these bags. I started using the Medulla freezer bags and they worked wonderfully. But I found the lansinoh freezer bags because they were a lot less expensive, but they leak! Pretty much every time I go to defrost one it was leaking out and I lost all the milk. Since I have a tun of them…I put them in hot water in another ziplock so I can catch the milk that leaks. I am going back to Medulla. Just FYI 🙂

  17. I was reading through the above and noticed comments about bag leakage. It is horrible when you go through the work of pumping only to loose the milk. While that can be caused by quality issues in the bag, in some cases it is caused by the storage location or style. We typically recommend storing the bags in a tupperware container of something which will allow the bags to remain flat and untouched by other items in the freezer. In some cases other items in the freezer will bump against the bags causing the frozen milk crystals to puncture the bags. Another issue, which we have recently addressed, is a reinforced bottom of the bag which is thicker to avoid punctures during the thaw out process. We also offer a thicker side seal for more strength as well as having the only oxo-biodegradable milk storage on the market. If there is anyone having leak issues, I would love to offer you a sample of our Honeysuckle Milk Storage Bags in exchange for your feedback. We have been reviewed by a reader of the Breastfeeding Mothers Unite blog

    Thanks for any feedback and enjoy your babies.

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