Breast Milk “Freezer Stash”

By: Shari Criso MSN, RN, CNM, IBCLC Thursday, 08 August 2019 02:00 PM Breast Milk Freezer Stash

Let’s talk about your freezer supply or “stash” as it is commonly called. This is where people get really excited about how much milk they can store away. I’ve had moms the first week after delivery call me and say I have a whole freezer filled already because they dealt with their engorgement by pumping every single last drop out assuming they can use it for the six months later when they were going back to work! This is definitely unnecessary and can even lead to problems such as plugged ducts and mastitis.

It is really important to understand what freezer stash is all about and what it’s used for, as well as understanding more about your breast milk in general.

First of all, most moms don’t know that breast milk changes over time. So, the milk that you have when the baby is two months old is different milk than the milk that the baby is drinking when they are six months old. So it’s not ideal or necessary to just keep saving more and more milk in the freezer to give to your baby later. While it is better than having to supplement with formula in an emergency, it is not the ideal choice when your baby can have fresh milk or recently pumped milk.

The other thing is that breast milk is alive. It’s got living antibodies and other amazing ingredients in it. The more that you do it, the more you destroy the properties of it. So while freezing your milk is fine and necessary when done in the right amounts and for the right reasons, it is not ideal to be used for the long term.

Freezing your breast milk is a way to have a backup for the fresh milk that you will be providing every day by breastfeeding or pumping, and you will turn to your freezer stash as the last resort when there is nothing else. It’s definitely better than supplementing the baby with infant formula, but it wouldn't be my first choice vs. fresh or just refrigerated breast milk.

So, if you want to use your fresh milk and give your baby the milk that you pumped from the day before, what is that freezer stash for? When do you need it? And how much do you need?

Freezer stash is like an emergency stash. For example, you went to work and you pumped, but you forgot and you left it out all night. Oh my goodness, what am I going to do tomorrow. That’s where your freezer stash comes in. Or you brought it home, left it for your baby and your mother-in-law spilled it all over the floor! This back up supply can be very helpful, as you can probably imagine.

Typically, I recommend somewhere between 8-12 feedings in the freezer and you really don’t need any more than that. This is an emergency supply that you will use last minute if you decide to go out and did not plan ahead.

As you use your freezer stash or as it starts to get old, you can continue to replenish it. Always label it with the date and always use the oldest milk first. Also freeze your milk in varied amounts, like some 3 oz, some 2 oz and some 1 oz bags. This way you will only defrost the amount that you need when you need it and none will go to waste.



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