Breastmilk Pumping & Freezing – Followup

I love the response that I get from people to come across my blog and use it as a resource as they begin their boob juice factory venture! Recently, I had received a message from a friend who had some additional questions after reading the Pumping & Freezing post. I decided to post our convo here as a follow-up in case anyone else had similar questions. Feel free to leave a comment if you ever want clarification on my neurotic ways. 🙂

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Here’s the convo:

Fellow Mommy: I was reading up in your blog about the number of diapers I would need for P. I ran across your blog entry re: pumping and freezing…wow! I wish I read it sooner :-/

Such good info! I nurse and pump right now but will be going back to work in a few weeks. I wanted to ask you how you collect to freeze. Did you get 4oz. At each pump session? More? Less? If less, did you refrigerate and then collect the 4 oz into the bottle?

I wish I had known to ask to pump at the hospital for the extra parts! They’re super $$$! Oh well…I’ll remember to ask next time 🙂 oh and those bottles! What a great idea. I’ve been buying the medela bottles and bags. Hate the bags but didn’t know there were inexpensive bottles out there. Again, wish I read your blog prior.

I’m already 2 months pp. I don’t have milk production like you. Do you think if I try to pump more, the volume would increase? I’m thinking about EP’ing now since I’m going back to work, except for late night/early morning feedings. I don’t want my supply to drop. Instead I would love for it to increase. Right now, if I pump in place of a feeding, I’m only getting an average of 4-6oz.

I’m going to follow your advice and start him on the frozen bm to get him used to it.
Mommy Neurotic Response:

First off… I was a pumping maniac… so I would total about 46oz A DAY when I was in my prime. hahaha. I usually had 6 or 8oz bottles attached to my pump, and would then pour them into 4oz increments (my freezing bottles) to store.

When I started out, it was less than 4oz, and i actually froze in 2oz incredments to start cuz baby wasnt taking much in one sitting anyways.
Later on, when it was definitely at least 4oz per feeding, then I only froze in 4 oz increments.
In that case, if I pumped less than 4oz, I would put in fridge to cool it down. And the next pumping, I would put in fridge to cool down, and then merge them together into a 4oz to freeze.

Yes! I didn’t like the bags… some leaked, and I found them harder to thaw standing up in the fridge. Plus the bottles you can reuse – and you know I reused them through 2 kids and THEN sold them and got a third of my money back on those bottles. hahahhaah.

YES! If you pump more – you will produce more… its all about supply and demand. Did you read the blog post on “increasing your supply” yet? 🙂 How many times are you feeding/pumping per day right now? that will give me a better idea.
Sometimes, if P does not suck all the milk out of you, then slap the pump on to clear it all out. Make sure you clear all your supply out with every feeding. 🙂
I think I used to get like 46oz total from about 4-5 pumping sessions. I only fed the kids 25oz a day… so the rest to freeze.
and YES! Do start him on the frozen stuff…. just one bottle a day… keeps him used to it… and also helps to funnel out the older milk as you put newer stuff in freezer.
Let me know if you have any other questions! I’d be happy to answer them. Pumping and sleep schedules are usually what people contact me for. hehe
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Breastfeeding: Increasing the Milk Supply

When people ask me about things I tried in order to increase my milk supply,  to be honest.. the two things that I believed to be the biggest factors in my production: consistent, regular pumping schedule… and WATER. Oh. and I also massaged the hell out of my boobs while pumping (This study said it helps express 48% more milk than using the pump alone).

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My strategy from the beginning once baby arrives was to pump every 3 hours the first couple of weeks to get it going. And every time I sit down to pump (or breastfeed)…. then I chug 8oz of water. I literally had a case of water next to my “pumping station” and forced myself to chug half a bottle every time. As the baby started to eat in longer stretches of time in between then I would pump less… but I was basically pumping the same number of times the baby feeds (See Sample Feeding Schedule and Pumping the Boob posts). Mind you, I only pumped for 5 months, so once I got down to a comfortable 4 pumps a day, then I was pretty happy with that… and at my peak, I was pushing out about 46oz a day (with baby drinking 25oz – the rest went into frozen stash).

I tried the oatmeal and Mother’s Milk Tea with my first child, but I honestly don’t know if it was a large contributing factor or if it was just the combination of everything I was doing. Like it said, it doesn’t hurt to add it to your routine right? I didn’t do either of those two with my second child though, and still produced just as much, just based on my regular pumping and water. Of course getting some adequate rest (which I know can be hard to do with a newborn) and a good diet, are also contributing factors.

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My initial suggestion to increase the milk supply, would be if baby is on the boob – then to try and pump a little bit afterwards to clean it all out. Or, if you are exclusively pumping, then to try to squeeze in an extra pumping session in the day for a week or so to get it back up.  If the first feed after the baby sleeps X amount of hours “overnight” is on the boob – then definitely pump after that one… because the first feed of the day is usually the most production (after a nights rest, etc) so make sure you empty the boob first thing in the morning! Alongside that, chug the water each time, and massage the boob real good during pumps. I don’t think it would hurt to eat more oatmeal for breakfast and try the mother’s milk tea. But breastmilk is supposed to be based on supply and demand…. So make sure you DEMAND it! 🙂

Now for the neurotic who wants more resources, here are some extra reads for you: Understand how milk production works, herbal remedies such as Fenugreek, and a list of 35 ways to boost milk supply.

More on massaging while on the pump: Video Demonstration from Standford University and “Hands on Pumping

Pumping the Boob Juice: Pump, Freeze, Thaw

  <—Check out my lil’ future milk machine aka pumping assistant.

Fresh BM is good at room temperature for about 6-8 hours. So usually, when I pump, I leave it out on the counter ready for the next feeding. The way I do stuff to start is that I pump at 7am, 11am, 3pm 7pm and 11pm. Baby feeds at 8am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, and 10pm. so you can see most of my pumping coorelates with one of the feeds. Since I have so much frozen, I give one bottle from the frozen stuff each day (the 7pm feed)… this is so that baby is continually used to the frozen BM taste AND I can slowly funnel out the older stuff as I freeze more recent BM (more plug in on this at the bottom). My daughter was feeding 8 times a day for a while… then by the end of the first month, she was at 7 feedings (once she dropped her middle of the night one)…. at 2 months she was 6 feeds… and just recently, I increased the amount in her bottle and only feed her 5 times now. whew! what a process right? Check back – I will post the daily feeding schedules at a later time.

When I do need to heat up BM, I just pop it in a bottle warmer for a few mins to bring the milk from cold to COOL temp. I never gave my kids fully warm milk because I didnt want them to get used to it and make it complicated later on when we would need to feed them while out and about (trust me – don’t start that habit with your kids. It will bite you in the ass later!). I bought a bottle warmer on craigslist for like $10. it works just fine for me since I never need the BM to get really warm.

But if you are warming up BM that was frozen first… then you gotta thaw it first. I usually take out a frozen bottle the night before and move it to the fridge. they say it takes 12 hrs to thaw and then from that point, its good for 24 hours so you gotta plan to use it. Once you have a routine for using a frozen bottle a day, it won’t be a big issue.

If you are gonna pump and leave milk out for someone to feed baby while you are at work… then milk is good in the fridge for about 7 days (if your temp is at 32 degrees).

Here are some links to check out:

http://www.justmommies.com/articles/breast-milk-storage.shtml

http://www.breastfeed-essentials.com/storagehandling.html

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/milkcalc.html

http://messageboards.ivillage.com/iv-ppexcluspump

Being the neurotic that I am, I love to log things. So I HAD to log my milk production. heehee. You’ll see me mention this site/app a lot because it was definitely useful for me during the first 18 months: www.babybix.com  I used it to keep track of my breastfeeding when I was in the hospital, but once I got home, it was great for logging my pumping  data. Check me out! On a good day, I was seriously pushing out like 46oz. Holla!

 

To track my frozen supply, I printed out a monthly calendar page and basically just tally marked for each 4oz bottle I froze per day. That’s what you see here. Each circle represents one 4oz frozen bottle. This made it easy for me to calculate how much frozen reserves I had stored. And as I pulled one out each day to thaw, then I would “X” out a circle. I know… no one else in their right mind would do this… but I just HAD to do it and I loved seeing my logs full!

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A word about starting baby on Frozen early:

DO IT…. the reason why I suggest this is so that the baby is used to the taste of it from the get go… you dont want to try to give it to the baby later and NOT like it. ugh. Here is what I did… so adjust it accordingly as you wish: to start, thaw out something that was previously frozen.. like an ounce or so, and mix it with the fresh stuff. Baby should take that just fine. then the next day, increase it to where its like 50/50 frozen/fresh… then the next day 75/25…. until you try giving him one whole bottle from frozen stuff. at that point, what you will want to do is use ONE feeding a day from the frozen stuff. The rest can be fresh. doesn’t really matter which feeding, just pick whatever is convenient for you to be home at the time, since its coming from the fridge and needs to be warmed up appropriately, etc.

So each day, take out one from the freezer and move to the fridge to thaw – since it takes 24 hours to thaw…. and take the one from the fridge to warm up and give him. Like I said, I like doing this so that the baby will continue to be used to frozen and it won’t be weird to them later. This also allows you to slowly funnel out the oldest stuff and store more of new boob juice.

When you warm it up… it doesn’t have to be super warm even… try to just get it to right above room temp. if you can train baby to be comfortable with room temp milk, it will make your life THAT much easier in the long run. When you warm it up, you will see that all the chunks are gone – no lumps, spotty areas in the milk.

Pumping the Boob Juice: Supplies

This blurb below is one of my most requested “notes” from fellow mommy friends. So of course, I needed to republish here for others to reference. I will try to keep the links updated, but this was originally written in 2009 as I was performing my milk machine duties to my daughter. Looking back on the experience, and having to do it twice – It’s definitely what worked best for me. I’m too neurotic to deal with the initially unpredictable feeding needs of a newborn. Structured and scheduled pumping times was right up my alley. It allowed me to be consistent and I always had fresh stock on hand for when the feeding time came. 🙂

I did not personally enjoy the breastfeeding experience and anticipated that I wouldn’t anyways.. however, I knew that I wanted to give her breastmilk because I feel that it would be best for her. I wanted her to at least get 6 months worth. So, after talking to one of my other friends who did the bottle thing… I decided that I would only put her on the boob the first two weeks, and then switch her purely to bottle fed breast milk. It actually worked out really well for me since I dont mind the pumping as much. The pumping experience has been good! It doesn’t hurt or anything and I like that I can pretty much pump anywhere. For me, it worked out well because I liked to pump at certain times that worked for my schedule and then the milk would just be there and ready for her. Versus waiting to nurse Vy at unpredictable and inconsistent times. Towards the end, when I was only nursing Vy on the boob once a day (at 4am because it was easier and quicker when you are half awake), I was using the Medela contact nipple shield… it feel much better because I wasn’t liking how she was latching. hehehe

I got the Medela Pump In Style Advanced. There are other higher end models, but this one worked just fine for me. I only pump for 10 mins each session. I opted not to rent because I figure I’d get my money’s woroth with baby #2. The pump comes with one set of the connectors, etc… when you are at the hospital: ask them to bring in a pump for you to use. When they do,they will crack open a brand new set of connectors/shields etc for you… so then you can take that home later and have a second set for free. hehehhe.

You will definitely need nursing pads. Those are the little pads that you put in your bra so that you don’t go leaking all over the place! There are some that are more comfortable than others, but I was just fine with the basic Lansinoh ones. So far, I’ve only needed to change it once (sometimes twice) a day…

The bottle that I use with Vy is the First years BREASTFLOW bottles (http://thefirstyears.com/breastflow). Love them. the nipple is shaped like a boob. Vy took to it just fine and even when she was on the bottle all day but boob at 4am… she switched between the two fine and had no nipple confusion. Best place I found those bottles at was on Amazon. If you are dilegent, you can find the extra nipples for those bottles on the Kohls website for pretty good pricing using coupon codes and Ebates (New to Ebates? use my referral link: http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=d1WP3PcGkOO6zQmkJBydXg%3D%3D )

If you plan on freezing any breastmilk… I think the storage bottles are better than the bags. The ones I used for my milk factory are like the ones they give you in the hospital. I found a bulk supplier for CHEAP: www.abbottstore.com search keyword ROSS BOTTLES

Coupon code: 10NEW  to get 10% off your order

You can buy them in bulk of 144 bottles: http://abbottstore.com/infant-and-child/similac-breast-milk-storage-bottles-caps-combo-4-fl-oz-case-of-144-51950

Let’s just say… I ended up buying THREE of those bulk cases for my milk factory.

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Milk factory Part 1: 7×12 bottles, double stacked, 4oz each = 672oz frozen boob juice.

The best website to buy extra pump supplies, nursing bra, etc is: www.Breakoutbras.com 10% off coupon code BBSAVE10

The most comfortable nursing bra that helps keep them heavy boobs lifted is the Bravado Seamless nursing bra…. but to sleep I wear the Medela sleep bra because its more comfortable. I actually started to wear that in my second trimester to sleep because it was more comfortable since I had to sleep on my side and wasn’t used to the bigger boobs. The Medela sleep bra provides minimal support though, so I wouldn’t venture with it outside of the house.

I tried both the Lansinoh nipple cream and the Medela one and I liked the Medela one better. You can get it on that breakoutbras site. the lansinoh one was really thick in consistency so it was not as appealing putting on.

After I had filled up most of my own freezer in the house, I had to invest in a deep chest for more storage space. I bought a deep chest freezer on Craigslist for $100.

Milk Factory Part 2: 17 bins holding 68oz each = 1156oz in the deep chest alone.

 

Update: After I used the pump, deep chest freezer and Ross bottles… It all went into storage for 2 years (knowing that I was planning on baby #2 later on). Once I finished my second round as milk factory…. it ALL went onto Craigslist. I was able to resell the deep chest freezer for the same $100 that I bought it for (ahem… free rental!). I sold the breast pump for $150 (I included a brand new box of parts for it that were manufacturer sealed – remember to ask for one at the hospital!). And those hundreds of little Ross bottles? – I sold them all to another dedicated milk factory for 25 cents a piece!