Build a Breastmilk Freezer Stash With a Low Milk Supply


Breastfeeding Article Disclaimer: I’m a firm believer that fed is best; that each parent should do what needs to be done to properly care for herself/himself and for her or his child. I write about breastfeeding because it’s my personal experience; never to shame and never to divide. Please help keep this community positive by choosing not to participate in the shaming of another parent or another parent’s choices—here or anywhere. We are all in this together. 

 




Breastfeeding is challenging. Breastfeeding when you have a naturally low milk supply is even harder. Trying to produce enough milk to feed your baby AND build up an emergency freezer stash of breastmilk when you have a naturally low milk supply can seem downright impossible (even when you’re using all the tips and tricks to boost your breastmilk supply that you can think of).

Let me say this to you now, mama-with-the-low-supply: it’s not impossible to build that freezer stash! 

But—let me go ahead and say this to you, as well—it won’t necessarily be easy to build up a freezer supply of breastmilk, either. But we’ll go through some things that were complete game-changers for me when it came to building my freezer supply.

First, a little back story. (I’ll make it quick, I promise!)

When I was breastfeeding my first born and I was wrapping up my maternity leave, I had maybe 4 or 5 ounces of breastmilk in my freezer, if that. Nowhere near enough to get her through 9-10 hours away from me. My partner, who fortunately was at home with our girl, had to literally come to my workplace and pick up milk several times during the day for the first few weeks I was back on the job until I was able to get caught up on my milk supply, and eventually get a small freezer stash built up.

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With my second daughter, I was determined to build up a supply from the first week we got home from the hospital.



I researched, I experimented with different diets, different schedules, and finally got into a rhythm that allowed me to:

  • Give my second daughter an all-breastmilk diet, as was my personal goal
  • Build up a perfectly respectable freezer stash before I went back to work 2 months after giving birth (100 oz., which, for mamas with a low supply is no easy task!)
  • Get a decent amount of sleep (no middle of the night pump sessions)

Not too bad, right? It was important to me to find a balance between feeding my little one, building up a freezer stash, and not losing my mind while doing so—which is exactly what I did!

Enough talk, though. Let’s jump right into how I made this happen. If you’re a mom, you’re busy, so not time to waste on rambling.

How to build a breastmilk freezer stash with a low milk supply

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How to Build a Breastmilk Freezer Stash With a Naturally Low Supply

 

1. Nurse and Pump at the Same Time

You may have heard this idea thrown around before on other breastfeeding articles, and for good reason: it works! Or at least it did in my case, and in a very big way.

Since breastfeeding is a supply and demand system, the more often you have something (either your baby or a pump) trying to get breastmilk, the more you’ll produce. So by nursing your little one on one breast and pumping the other one, you’re pretty much tricking your body into thinking you have twins. (Mamas of multiples would need to consider adding some pump time after each nursing session, alternatively, to get sort of the same effect.)

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When I did this, a nursing session typically went something like this:

  1. Nurse baby on right breast; use breast pump on left breast. Go until baby pops off.
  2. Switch. Move baby to left breast to nurse; use breast pump on right breast. Go until baby pops off.
  3. Take a look at baby after she pops off the second breast. Is she still giving feeding cues? Fussing as if she’s hungry? If so, offer her a bottle of the expressed breastmilk to drink. If not, you’re done!
  4. Put expressed breastmilk into fridge and allow to chill completely before freezing.

When your breastmilk supply is naturally low, you’re always concerned about whether or not your baby is getting enough to eat. To save myself a bit of stress, I offered a bottle of the expressed milk after duel nursing/pumping sessions quite often, just to make sure I wasn’t taking something that my baby needed right then. In most cases, my girl would fall asleep on the second breast (ah, milk drunk), and like heck I was waking up a sleeping newborn. A few times in the beginning she did take a little bit from the bottle, but never all of it.

And that, my friends, is how you start to build your stash.

 

2. Find the Breastmilk Booster That Works for Your Body

Lots of foods are believed to boost milk supply naturally—wheat germ, flax seed, Brewer’s yeast, Mother’s Milk tea, to name a few. I went through and tried a whole bunch of boosters one at a time, which I fully recommend (as long as your doctor okays it—always check first).

The one that worked best for me? Oatmeal.

I made overnight oats, oatmeal smoothies, bowls of hot oatmeal topped with berries…you name it. And it worked.

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My increase wasn’t massive and I didn’t suddenly jump up to producing 8oz. a pump session (or anywhere close to that), but I did see about a half an ounce increase in each pump session which, over the course of the day, actually does add up!

One big thing to keep in mind is that when your supply is naturally low, it’s very possible that your increase will be small, if you have one at all. It’s not a bad idea to try a bunch of different boosters and see if one works for you and your body. Everyone is a little different, so the same things don’t necessarily work for everyone.

 

3. Celebrate the Small Victories

Building up a breastmilk freezer stash when you have a naturally low milk supply isn’t easy and it doesn’t happen quickly.

Every half ounce, every quarter ounce that you produce is something that you should be proud of. Think of your expressed milk that way.

Mentally change “Dang it, I only pumped half an ounce.” to “Woohoo! Another half ounce for my baby!”

It may seem a little bit silly, but a mindset change can actually reduce your stress and anxiety (which is already higher than normal when you’re taking care of a new baby), and a reduce in stress and anxiety can, in turn, help you relax and express more milk. And we could use ALL the help we can get in that department, am I right? 😉

You can read about my favorite ways to lower stress while breastfeeding with a naturally low milk supply here.

 

Were you able to successfully build up a breastmilk freezer stash, even though you had a low supply? How’d you do it? 

 

 

 





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14 Comments

  • Reply Corinne (MyMomWrites.com)

    Great job on this one! I used oatmeal too, it worked WONDERS! It had to be steel cut oats though, the instant packs from Quaker oats didn’t seem to help any.

    June 22, 2017 at 10:16 pm
    • Reply Kaity

      Oatmeal is amazing! I saw results with both steel cut and old fashioned rolled oats, but agree—not much of a difference with the instant. :/

      June 23, 2017 at 1:48 am
  • Reply Chevelle

    You are spot on about the stress! With my son I was so anxious about him having enough , I drove myself nuts! With my daughter I was more relaxed and I swear I produced much more!

    June 22, 2017 at 10:52 pm
    • Reply Kaity

      It makes SUCH a difference. Glad you were able to have a more relaxed experience with your girl. 🙂

      June 23, 2017 at 1:50 am
  • Reply Katie Bressler

    What a great read 🙂 thank you for being upfront right at the beginning about not shamming mommies. I unfortunately wasn’t able to BF for a list of reasons, but I believe it is so important for new moms to realize that this is something new for you, baby and your body, so don’t get too frustrated too early. I love your comment about changing your mindset from discouraged to uplifted, even for a small amount. I will be sharing this as I think it has some very helpful tips. Thank you for sharing your personal story!

    June 22, 2017 at 11:00 pm
    • Reply Kaity

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing, Katie! 🙂

      June 23, 2017 at 1:53 am
  • Reply Misty Nelson

    Wonderful tips! I had such a hard time with breast feeding and trying to build my milk supply. As a first time mom I have to say that was one of the most frustrating and challenging things I was unprepared for. In hindsight I would do so many things differently. I’m saving this

    June 23, 2017 at 3:01 pm
    • Reply Kaity

      It’s SUPER stressful trying to figure out breastfeeding when you’re a brand new mom, and honestly, there’s only so much you can do to prepare for it ahead of time (at least in my opinion). It’s one of those things you sort of have to go through on your own to really understand it.

      June 25, 2017 at 1:20 pm
  • Reply Bailey

    These are some solid awesome tips for building supply. Thanks for sharing reasonable means for boosting supply.

    June 24, 2017 at 3:24 am
    • Reply Kaity

      Thanks, Bailey! 🙂

      June 25, 2017 at 1:16 pm
  • Reply Afra

    I found pumping while nursing was the fastest way for me too not to forget drinking LOTs of water. I plan to pump alot more than I did with my first 2 so I can try to go work part time once I have my third.

    June 29, 2017 at 7:32 pm
  • Reply Angela Cameron

    My milk supply was very poor and the baby wasn’t getting bottle. I tried fenugreek capsules, mother’s milk tea, and many other remedies but Healthy nursing tea did great help and now I am producing enough supply to satisfy my little one.

    August 8, 2017 at 10:31 pm
  • Reply Nikki

    Great information. I needed this post!

    September 8, 2017 at 1:27 pm
    • Reply Kaity

      So happy it was helpful, Nikki! *hugs* 🙂

      September 9, 2017 at 12:16 am

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