Working and Pumping, Freezer Stash, Stockpile, breast milkI had a rough delivery, and had to pump for a while to get my supply in. My son’s meals went from just formula to formula and pumped milk to pumped milk only to exclusively nursing. After all the work (and nipple cream!) I went through to be able to breastfeed him, I was determined to build a milk supply to adequately feed Junior when I returned to work. 6 months later, I’ve got about 1,000oz stored. Here’s how I did it.

Preface

For my job, I work full-time, 7am-4pm, Monday-Friday. Junior is at daycare 6:30am to 4:30pm. When pumping both breasts, I pump for 15 minutes with an electric double pump . When nursing one side and pumping the other, I use a manual pump or use the electric pump and pump for as long as he nurses. We do not co-sleep unless he’s sick or going through a growth spurt. We room-share (for now). I wear him when we are out and about with my carrier.

Supplies

Strategy:

Weeks 0-2

Pump 8-10x a day until milk came in. Feed pumped milk and supplement with formula.

Weeks 2-4

Try getting Junior to nurse for as long as possible at least 8x a day. If he nursed for a short amount of time or was still hungry, I handed him off to someone to feed him pumped milk while I went and pumped both sides to keep my supply up.

Weeks 4-8

Feed Junior 8x a day.
Nursed Junior 7x a day. Fed him pumped milk for 1x a day ( so I can sleep!)
For 2 of 7 nursing sessions (one in the middle of the night and one in the morning), feed one side and pump the other side.
Squeeze in 1-2 pumping sessions, if possible.

Weeks 8-12

Feed Junior 7x a day.
Nursed Junior for 7x a day. For 3 of 7 nursing sessions (one in the middle of the night and one in the morning and one in the afternoon), feed one side and pump the other side. Squeeze in 1-2 pumping sessions, if possible.

Weeks 12+

Nurse Junior on demand when I’m at home. For 2 nursing sessions (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) feed one side and pump the other side. Pump both sides 3x a day at work.

Dos and Don’ts

DO:

-Have a two day buffer. Whatever I pumped on Monday, I store it in the coldest part of my refrigerator and send it to daycare on Wednesday. This allows for my output on Friday to be carried over until Monday and I’m not as pressured to pump over the weekend. Thursday was my freezer day in that whatever I pumped went straight to the freezer. It also gives me more peace-of-mind knowing two days to pump enough milk for Tuesday.

-Invest in good equipment. Invest in a good double electric pump. Invest in a hands-free bra. Invest in storage bags that don’t leak as much. Replace parts when you need to.

-Record videos on your smartphone of baby laughing AND crying. Seeing AND Hearing helped with the letdown process as opposed to only seeing.

-Get a nursing cover and a privacy door hanger. They both helped to avoid any nip slip just in case someone walked in during a pumping session. I also had a sweater just in case I got too cold. Being warm helps for optimum production.

-Have two hands free bras. One that was a gift from my husband that I used with the electric pump. The other was an old sports bra I cut holes into for use with the manual pump. I washed both bras with Junior’s cloths to give me his “scent”.

DON’T

-get too obsessed with building a freezer stash. Mine just happened because I had “extra”. My goals, first and foremost, were to feed my baby, and take care of myself. Happy mommy, happier baby

-Bottle watch. Just sit back and space out. Look at photos and videos of your baby. Read the news. Don’t even look at a clock. Just set a timer.

-visit “boob nazi” forums for advice. 99% of people who visit that side read it and compare themselves. 1% are outspoken and post how they’re breastfeeding and pumping a bagillion ounces a day. Supply is different for every woman. If you have to supplement, do so. Feed your baby. That’s all there is to it.

Backstory:

Breastfeeding Junior got off to a rocky start. He spend first few days in the NICU. My milk didn’t come in until the 8th day, and it didn’t fully come in until he was 2 and 1/2 weeks old. Bad news all around, I was dreading using formula (because I wanted to save money) so I was determined to nurse him.

After a really bad delivery experience (read here), I felt so defeated because Junior would latch perfectly but nothing was coming out. From day 1, I was attached to the pump to help bring in the liquid gold. He was fed formula and a little bit of colostrum until the 8th day when my milk came in. I thought I would be done with the pump until I returned to work. I was so excited to nurse him exclusively. But at that point, he was so used to the bottle, he had regressed in latching on. So I thought to myself, I would have to exclusively pump and perhaps supplement with formula. Back to being attached to the pump!

By then, I was a pump pro. I had spare parts, a handsfree bra, and plenty of storage bags and bottles.

Suddenly at four weeks old, Junior turned the corner and realized that breastmilk was better coming fresh from the tap. Since I was pumping every 2-3 hours, I had built a freezer stash of about 75 oz. I spent the next 8 weeks trying to exclusively breastfeed with the exception of his one bottle before bedtime so Daddy can help feed him. (Plus this ensured that he was really full and would sleep longer at night)

During this time, I pumped in-between feedings, and even woke up in the middle of the night to pump. What really helped me was having family to help. They would watch Junior while I went to pump, helped with washing the pump parts, and made sure I had enough calories and water to keep my supply up. My mother-in-law was part of La Leche League and she gave me all sorts of tips.

At 12 weeks, I went back to work and continued pumping and building my breast milk supply.

My strategy was to have a two-day buffer. As in, whatever I pumped on Monday, he would have Wednesday. This was to give me a break over the weekend because whatever I pumped on Friday, he would have Monday and I wasn’t pressured over the weekend to pump. Thursday was my day to add to my freezer stash. Whatever I pumped that day went directly to the freezer. Junior was getting 12oz a day at daycare, and I would supply them with about 12oz extra of freezer stash to use at their discretion. They were also really good about not feeding him 2 hours before I picked up him, so I could nurse him when we got home.

There were times my supply went really low. I had purchased the tea and fenugreek supplements, but it seemed to make my baby extra gassy and fussy so I gave those up. It would all-of-sudden go back up again, and I attributed to me ovulating. It went back to normal after a few days.

My output has gone down only slightly now that I returned to work for a new months. To alleviate that, I would feed him from one side in the morning, and pump the other. You always have the most milk in the morning so I took advantage of that. If I didn’t pump enough during the workday, I would also use the same technique at night. I used a hands free bra and a manual pump to pump the other side. Sidenote: I have the forearms strength of Popeye. It was just easier for me to move around and manually pump one side then being hooked up and immobile with my electric pump. Junior was also getting more squirmy, so using a manual pump for the time I would pump and feed worked best for me.

Read more about my working mom schedule here.

Little by little, I noticed my stash increasing. Junior is almost 6 months old, I realized I had saved up 1,000 oz for him. He’ll be starting solids soon. Ideally, I would like to nurse him until he’s a year old but if he stops sooner than that, I’ve got 1,000 oz (and counting!) to feed him.

Be sure to add your tips on the comments!

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7 Comments on Working and Pumping: How I Pumped a Freezer Stash of 1,000oz

  1. Bethe @ Texas Lovely
    June 27, 2014 at 7:48 am (3 years ago)

    This is a great post! I had to go back to work at 8 weeks, so I was a pumping fanatic at work (pumped 3-4 times at work… blah). I never made enough to cover all of Wrenn’s bottles while I was gone, but decided that I’d just do as much as I could, for as long as I could. I never got the big freezer stash, but like you, I’d pump for the next day’s bottles, and then sneak in a few pumps over the weekend to help increase my stash for the following week. It was a huge sacrifice and not a lot of fun, but I am convinced that my baby was healthier because of all the breastmilk she got. Keep it up!

    Reply
    • R B Minors
      July 10, 2016 at 10:05 am (1 year ago)

      This post is a life saver. I am so stressed about feeding my baby girl. I want to so bad keep feeding her breastmilk for as long as possible but some times it’s very hard. Thanks for the encouragement.

      Reply
      • JD Collins
        August 3, 2016 at 1:27 pm (1 year ago)

        Love it! You can do it!

        Reply
  2. lif
    May 10, 2016 at 5:21 pm (2 years ago)

    Thanks for this article! Reading this give me insight to build milk supply for my baby. I hope I will build enough supply prior getting to work!

    Reply
  3. MJ
    June 10, 2016 at 9:47 pm (2 years ago)

    Wow! You’re amazing! I exclusively bf and have since the day my baby was born. That being said, I did a homebirth and was lucky enough to have enriching go right. During the first month I wanted to quit so many times. I found out my baby had tongue tie, he had surgery and it made all the difference. But you…went through crazy stress and pumped for baby! Truly an inspiration!!!! So many women quit, and I do not blame them as every woman does what is best for them and their child. Super kudos to you mama!

    Reply

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