Moms who succeed in building a large stash of breastmilk do two things very well:
First, they give themselves plenty of time to reach their goals. Just a pumping bit of extra milk every day will give you more than a hundred bottles of milk in three months.
Second, they don’t give up. New moms can place an intense amount of pressure on themselves. Sometimes your expectations and what your body can produce do not align.
But you must persist:
Your body goes through all sorts of hormone surges postpartum. One of the most important hormonal changes regulates your milk production. Your body is busy calibrating the demands of your baby based on your feeding and pumping schedule.
This period can last for two months after you give birth.
And for a while, it can feel like you’re constantly playing catch-up to your baby’s appetite and your pumping demands.
But once you get through this hump, you’ll find that your body is able to make enough milk to feed your baby with enough to spare for a stash.
Today I’ll show you six ways to get through this tough time and successfully build up a large freezer stash of breastmilk no matter if you’re building your supply for:
- returning to work
- feeding multiples
- emergencies when you are unable to nurse
Even though your baby won’t be able to feed from a bottle in their first months (you might give them nipple confusion, blah blah blah…), you can begin to express breastmilk for storage.
At this point you won’t be able to express a lot of milk, mostly just drops of colostrum.
That’s okay, and perfectly natural.
At this point, you’ll want to use your hands to manually express the milk (learn how to express milk by hand) or a one piece silicone pump like these. Don’t use a regular breast pump as the little milk that you manage to draw out will just get lost inside the breast horn and other parts.
Even though you’ll only draw out a couple precious drops of milk in the beginning, save every precious drop!
Colostrum is liquid gold for newborns or babies who need to quickly gain weight.
You can keep saving the drops of milk you express to a bottle that already has frozen breast milk in it. Just remember to label the bottle with the date of the oldest milk and use it up in 3-6 months.
Prolactin is the hormone that makes your mammary glands secrete milk.
Your body makes the most prolactin early in the morning.
Try to squeeze in a pumping session early in the morning before everybody wakes up.
I guarantee that you will get the most milk you have ever seen!
Even if you pump multiple times a day, you’ll find that almost half of that day’s milk will be pumped in that one morning session.
Double pumping or double nursing has been shown to increase milk supply over emptying each breast separately.
Take advantage of this:
Pump one breast while your baby feeds from the other side.
There’s another added bonus to pumping and nursing at the same time:
Your baby’s rooting reflex at your other breast will trigger your let-down response in both breasts, reducing the time it takes to pump.
You might be worried that you’ll pump too much milk and not leave enough behind for your baby.
Some moms will even be tempted to give their freshly pumped milk to their baby at their first cries.
Your body will learn to compensate for the extra demand caused by both pumping and nursing. After a couple days you will produce more milk.
But this only works if you don’t give in! If you give the pumped milk to your baby, you will never train your body to make more milk.
For moms who are still worried about their baby going hungry, here’s a bit of reassurance:
Even the most expensive breast pump will never empty your breasts as well as your baby.
When you use a breast pump, it will always leave some milk inside your breasts.
This, combined with your body’s response to your baby’s suckling will trigger a second let-down response and a fresh rush of milk.
Some moms may need a breather (say 5-15 minutes) between pumping and nursing, but your body will compensate and there will be enough milk for your baby.
Every mom’s body is attuned to her baby’s appetite and will produce milk on demand.
Mother nature is a genius that way! Just be patient.
As your baby grows older and more active, you might have trouble pumping and nursing at the same time.
Babies will be curious about the strange contraption attached to mom’s chest:
They’ll want to grab at the breast horns or tug at the tubing.
If you have a curious and grabby baby, then you can try pumping during their nap time.
What if you can’t arrange enough time between your naptime pumping session and your baby’s next feeding?
Then pump only one breast and leave the other side full for your baby.
I know some of you are skeptical that these simple tips will work, but when it comes to building a backup supply of breastmilk, remember that:
Slow and steady wins the race. And every awe inspiring freezer stash with thousands of ounces of milk was built one drop at a time.