I've been back to work for about a month. Because I went back without much milk in the freezer, I've been doing extra pumping sessions at home to build up a cushion of extra milk. That's been going really well. Now I'm starting to wonder: how much is enough? Did you freeze as much as you could, or did you have a goal amount based on "X number of bottles" or "X workdays' worth of milk"?
Also, when do you use your frozen milk? I read something that said you shouldn't use milk from your freezer stash to meet day-to-day needs, because in the long run it would decrease your supply. But if I'm not going to use the frozen milk to feed the baby, what is it for? Just emergencies?
I'm struggling with this too. I work only part-time, but have a large freezer stash because of big-time engorgement issues in the beginning. I'm also finding that I'm pumping much more than he's eating while I'm gone. I'm hesitant to cut back on the pumping, because I'm already uncomfortably full by the time I pump. THe LC I talked to the other day said that it would probably be best to rotate the freezer stash, and feed him older frozen milk while I'm gone, since he's getting mostly fresh milk from me (when I'm home). That's fine for me, but I worry that that means that DH will have to thaw some each time the baby wants to eat, and it'll take longer to get to him.
Curious to see what everyone else does. I wonder if you ought to cross-post on one of the breastfeeding boards too?
every third month i gave dd frozen milk for a month, so that it wouldn't go bad (which felt like it would have been a national tragedy). i felt like i wanted as much stash as possible. it gave me an enormously important emotional cushion if i couldn't pump or i had a bad session. i was able to stop pumping at 16.5 mos. and continue giving her milk from my stash for another 2.5 mos.
I don't think you can have too much of a stash LOL!
I used my frozen milk as a buffer - on specific occasions that seemed to crop up pretty regularly:
- When LO had a growth spurt and my supply hadn't yet caught up
- When I had a bad day at work and had to skip a pumping session (not often)
- When I needed to work late or travel overnight (also not too often) and therefore couldn't simply use the previous shorter day's milk supply
Between 9 and 12 months, I slowed down pumping to 1x a day and filled in by using up the freezer stash (at this point baby was eating solids and bm was not as central). After 13 months, stopped pumping altogether and simply nursed mornings, nights & weekends for another year.
I agree that you don't want the frozen milk to sit for too long - better to use it up as you go - but my personal recommendation would be to do it gradually interspersed with the fresh milk (vs. an entire day, week or month of frozen milk) because there is some loss of nutrition in the frozen stuff.
I think 4-5 days of frozen milk is sufficient. We use the oldest frozen milk in the freezer on mondays, and I freeze the milk I pump on thursdays (my last day for the week). That way we rotate all of the frozen milk. I had a really large supply stashed with my first child, but that kind of backfired when I got thrush. I kept getting re-infected.
Right now, I only pump twice a day. My baby only drinks breastmilk. This usually yeilds a total of 16-20 oz per day. She frequently eats less than this, so I freeze the leftovers. She nurses a lot in the evenings and at night to make up for it.
I see keep it up as much as you can. Besides the little issues (I'm too tired and miss a pumping session, baby is super hungry and my supply seems down, etc), there were three separate weeks where I was soooo glad I had as much milk as I had in the freezer.
The first was a week I had to take a medication for 5 days - the doctor said breastfeeding with it was fine, but I didn't want to risk it. I pumped and dumped and gave DD the frozen milk for the week.
The second was a week I got miserably sick and my supply just plummeted. Was able to feed her the freezer stash rather than resorting to formula.
The third was the week she went on a nursing strike and REFUSED to nurse. I guess because it was so stressful, I couldn't pump enough and was just so glad to have my stash.
You never really know what's going to come up (maybe you get sick or have to be out of town for a longer period or whatever) and it's so nice not to have to worry about what you're going to feed the baby.
I'd say a work week stash is enough... you don't need to rotate the stash continuously... every friday you can freeze your milk, and mondays use form the older frozen stash. That should be enough to keep your stash fresh.
I agree supplementing with your own frozen milk is a slippery slope. But sometimes it comes in handy - I would just reach for it sparingly, not just when you are having low supply (because you need the extra nursing to up your supply).
Right now I have about half a days supply in the freezer. I'm trying to increase that to about a week. Last time I had almost 10 gallons when our freezer died. But, DD reverse cycled and so far DS isn't.
I have way too much of a freezer stash, but I like the thought that I have it in case of emergencies.
Anything older than 3 months gets tossed.
DH uses frozen if he's watching the baby if I go out w/the girls, go get my hair done, go to the gym. Fresh milk is ONLY for her daycare provider.
I definitely pump way more than she needs but it's a better feeling than not having enough. I've been there, too, and had to use some frozen milk for about a week which was a little scary. I'm so glad I had it.
I am in the "can't have too much in the freezer" camp. This is based primarily on my experience with DD. She ate a huge amount during the day away from from me and I had a hard time keeping up.
I returned to work 12 weeks pp, worked full time, 25 min commute (so not too bad), pumped 3 times/day at work and ended up adding 1 session/weekend morning. DD took upto 18 oz/day over 9-10 hours during the time she was 6-10 mo. (I was pumping 14-20 oz depending on the day) I am sure she would have taken more than 18 oz if I could have given it to her as she was nursing every 2-3 hours until well past a year. She was not very interested in solids until 10 months or later. I think she would have waited, but she was not getting ALL the milk she wanted. In other words, breastmilk was her favorite food and she preferred that over solids. I was forced to decrease the amount of breastmilk I sent in for her for the day around 10 months. I sent as much as I could, but had no more in the freezer.
At LLL meetings most others reported their LOs taking more like 8-12 oz in a similar time period, some more, some less. I think it depends more on your child. It you have a reverse cycler, then you most likely need less for during the day.
I am planning on pumping and freezing beginning about 4-6 weeks pp in preparation for return to work about 12-14 weeks pp, depending on the job situation. In the chest freezer, breastmilk keeps for 6+ months. I plan on using it one bottle a day, one day a week or something like that to keep rotating the stock. I plan on pumping 3 x/day again and playing it by ear. Maybe this one will not take so much.
Er, 500 oz?
Seriously, I pumped like a madwoman before I went back to work (10 minutes - shower - 10 minutes) in the morning and at night for two months before I went back to work.
And then I had no problems which keeping up with demand and always used fresh milk. Read somewhere that is much better. Of course, I had a built a good pumping system and an oversupply as a result and that is probably what allowed me to pump well. Having a big supply really really reduced my stress over pumping. I didn't like it but I never had to worry about a hungry baby.
No regrets. I bought a deep freeze and when it was close to aging out I donated it all in two lots to a milk bank and then a bunch to a momma with an adopted baby. It still pains me to see requests for milk on a local listserv and not be able to help.
I'll the same thing with the next. IMHO you can never have to much milk. And you never, ever know what is going to happen to your supply. I pumped for 18m with a great supply. A month later I got pregnant and it just went away. DS weaned only two months later.
How long are you guys keeping your stash? I have, in my memory from DS1's pumpings, that it's good for up to a year in a regular freezer. The LC I talked to, though, said 4 mos at the most in a kitchen freezer, longer only in a chest freezer. Thoughts?
Since this was my first child and I had no idea how pumping at work would turn out (work is very demanding), I built up a huge stash which is currently 1200oz. I also had oversupply problems as well. DS is now 9 months old and I just started needing to use the stash on a day to day basis. My stash is all in a deep freezer. Now that I am really swamped at work (someone quit, so now I'm doing his job too), I don't have time to pump 2x per day at work. Since my stash is so large, he'll probably be able to drink it well beyond his first birthday.