I went back to work when Aiden was 11 weeks old. On top of the emotional stress of leaving him so early, I also had to worry about how he was going to eat! On top of that, I had a business trip to Dublin a few weeks after returning to work. In preparation for all of this, I had to figure out a way to build up a good stash of milk while still feeding him every three hours. One of the most common questions I get from new, or soon-to-be mamas, is how I built my milk supply to go back to work. It wasn’t easy, but here are some ideas for building your milk stash.
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Building Your Milk Stash: Set-up
I put all my supplies in a basket including:
- My Medela Pump in Style Pump and parts,
- Two mugs to hold the flanges after pumping so I decrease the chances of spilling (trust me, crying over spilled milk is a very real thing!!)
- Coconut oil (great for lining the inside of the flanges)
- A few hand towels and a burp cloth in case of spills
- Water and a snack
Putting everything in a basket made it easy to keep everything organized, and I could ask my husband to get my pumping basket if I was busy with the baby, and we didn’t have to worry that we would forget something.
Building Your Milk Stash: When to Pump
It is a careful balance to pump enough to make a little extra milk to create a stash, but not make so much that you are overproducing and uncomfortable. I found that pumping at some strategic times helped create this balance.
- Pump a little extra in the morning: After feeding in the morning, I would pump for an extra ten minutes on each side. At first I got very little to show for the extra pumping, but after a couple of weeks I successfully tricked my body into thinking that I needed to make more milk, and I did!
- Pumping one side while feeding on the other: During my mid-morning and late-morning feeds (when there is more milk), I would pump on one side and feed Aiden on the other, then I would alternate at the next feeding. This got me a few ounces to add to my stash.
- Pump before bed: Once Aiden started consistently sleeping 4-5 hours at night, I added an extra pumping session before bed.
Building Your Milk Stash: Storing Milk
The next day, once frozen, I moved them to a soda can refrigerator pack from front to back so that the oldest milk was at the front of the box. This is an easy and inexpensive way to keep the milk organized. By the time I went to work I had about two weeks worth of milk stored up, which took a lot of stress off. A little goes a long way as long as you give yourself several weeks. We had plenty for my return to work and my trip to Dublin.
Are you a pumping mama? What did you find helpful in building your milk stash?
If you liked this, check out A Schedule of an Exclusively-Pumping-Working Mama: A Day in the Life and Tips to Increase Milk Supply.