Building a Freezer Stash

It’s not all fun and crafts here at Modern Mama while I am on maternity leave from my full time job. There is also some serious mom work happening too…

I suppose the theme to 2018 for me is saving as much as possible. We are in the mix of implementing Dave Ramsey’s snowball method to work on getting debt free, and the “budget” (my husband puts this word in quotes when we talk about it) is a constant discussion topic. Mommies – I shame no one for using formula! I only made it 6 months breastfeeding my first and had to supplement during that time! But I also didn’t effectively pump and stash milk and when I returned to work I just couldn’t keep up for long. But my goodness, the cost of formula gave me sticker shock! This as a bonus reason along with the other benefits of breastfeeding that I am aiming to get through the first year without formula.

I will tell you what didn’t work with my first and what DID for my second child. I not only made it to a year with him, I continued to nurse him until 18 months! I am on number 3 now and I have more of a freezer stash now then I did with number 2. I also have a game changer in the mix that has made it even easier to collect that liquid gold.

Let me start by saying, I am NOT an over producer. I strictly produce enough. My kids have no trouble gaining and growing with exclusive breast feeding when I am home and able to nurse on demand.

Here is my list of recommendations to maximize your freezer stash:

1) get a hands free pumping bra. It is a lot easier to pump for the 10-15 recommended minutes when you aren’t holding the pump in place. Your arms do get tired after a while.

2) get a good pump! I love the spectra s2, it’s quiet and efficient. It has a setting to pump faster and with less force to initiate let down. Once letdown begins I prefer cycle 46 with a vacuum level of 6.

3) use a haakaa in the morning on the side baby isn’t nursing on! Baby gets the letdown going easily, and once you suction it on the other side it will draw out some extra milk!

4) add a pumping session during the first morning nap. I don’t usually pump more than 5 or so minutes about an hour after baby fed last and is sleeping just Incase babe wakes and wants more, and I still get about 5 ounces once combined with the haakaa milk collected!

5) freeze the milk flat! It’s much easier to store this way.

My pitfall with number 1 was when I tried to pump for him. I thought that if I replaced a feeding at bedtime with a formula bottle then I could freeze that milk. That was true, and I had no problem putting about 130 ounces aside for him by the time I returned to work. Unfortunately I didn’t increase my supply that way. I was still producing just enough. A pump is not as efficient as your baby and when I went back to work by month 5 I was coming up short and using my stash and by month 6 I was barely getting anything at work. I was happy I made it 6 months and we moved to formula full time.

For my second, I added a pump session after his morning feed while he napped. This gave me more milk in the freezer and boosted my supply! We didn’t start dipping into the extra freezer stash until 9 or so months! I had more flexibility working from home 2-3 days a week as well which tremendously helped maintain my supply. We got to 11.5 months with no supplementing, when we started to give 6 or 6 ounces a day of whole milk to account for the shortage. He just would not drink formula.

And now, the game changer – get a Haakkaa. Seriously. Game changer. It is a manual pump, so when baby feeds on one side, just suction it to the other. Bonus 1: you won’t leak on yourself. Bonus 2: I get an extra 2-3 ounces to add to my morning pump with this thing. Imagine if I used it every feed!? I only use it once in the morning because I don’t have a chest freezer for all this milk 😂.

My only critique is don’t trust the ounces on the side of the bottle. I always put mine into a snappies container after and it’s usually 1 or so ounces less than the haakaa measurements.

This is a manual pump so you can keep it as a backup in your pump bag if you forget some of the parts to pump. Been there, done it several times and engorgement is NO fun. Totally worth the 20 bucks on Amazon!

Lastly, my favorite way to store my milk is in a freezer bag like this. I number the bags so I know what milk is the oldest. I am already 160 ounces in and on bag 4 and my little turns 3 months in a week! I didn’t get the haakaa until a month ago (started pumping at 1 month old). I have a lot less stress this time around with my freezer stash!

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