Working: How Much Stored Milk is Enough?

freezingFor some moms, back-to-work has an element of relief: getting back to adult conversation, perhaps a more familiar routine (compared to that of being a mother!). Others dread the day they have to leave their little one, even if baby is staying with Dad or Grandma. Most fall somewhere in between; or as someone said, “It depends on which minute you are asking me the question.”

Providing your milk is still the one thing only you can do. It is a connection your baby continues to have even when you can’t be there with her.

Storing up enough milk in the freezer is a common worry. I hear moms asking about pumping for that purpose even within the first week they are home with their baby. Relax and enjoy just nursing for a while! The rhythm of your baby suckling and your body responding is part of what helps you establish a good milk supply. This good supply will withstand weeks or months of pumping when the baby is not around.

How much milk stored up is enough? It may actually be less than you think. Consider this routine:

•Day 1: leave baby with some milk previously stored. Pump at the times the baby would normally be nursing. You’ll have about the same amount as the baby takes during the day.

*Day 2: leave baby with the fresh milk pumped on Day 1. Pump as the day before.

•Day 3: leave baby with the milk pumped on Day 2. Pump as before.

•Day 4: leave baby with the milk pumped on Day 3. Pump as before.

•Day 5: leave baby with the milk pumped on Day 4. Pump as before. Freeze Day 5’s milk in the back of your freezer, rotating older milk toward the front.

As you approach a new week, pull the oldest frozen milk in your stash for that first work day. So the bare minimum stored up sounds like one day’s milk, enough for baby to get started on Day 1.

Most of us wouldn’t be comfortable with cutting things that closely. But my point is to show you that you don’t have to have weeks and weeks worth of milk stashed. Things don’t always go perfectly: you might miss a pumping, baby might be extra hungry one day, you get held up in traffic. You do want to have an emergency stash in the care provider’s freezer to make these times as stress-free as possible.


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