If you are an expecting or new mother than you have undoubtedly thought through whether you plan to formula feed, breastfeed, or feed with some combination of the two. If you plan to breastfeed then you may have already read many breastfeeding tips for new mothers or taken a class to prepare yourself.
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The only class that I took before our first baby was born was a breastfeeding class that the hospital offered. And I don’t regret it! I was anxious about the learning curve of feeding with my own body and the class really helped me to understand what the process would require. If you plan to breastfeed and you don’t take any other class prior to the birth of your first baby, I highly recommend that you at least take one breastfeeding class! Breastfeeding really is a process that requires learning. You can even take an online class right from the comfort of your home from a certified lactation educator here.
If you are a first time mom you can also read my list of breastfeeding essentials here.
Even after taking a breastfeeding class and working with the lactation consultant at our pediatrician’s office, there were some simple parts of pumping and storing breastmilk that I completely missed! Below are some breastfeeding tips for new mothers based on things I learned by the time our second baby was born that made the process of pumping and freezing breastmilk so much easier.
Note: I became a stay at home mom after the birth of our first baby, so I didn’t need to freeze massive amounts of breastmilk for a daycare or nanny. However, I wanted to wean our daughter before a year and wanted breastmilk in the freezer to keep her on after my supply dried up. I also wanted to have storage on hand for occasional evenings out. Using these tips with my second baby I was able to pump and freeze about 100 ounces by the time she was 2 months old.
Breastfeeding Tips For New Mothers – Pumping & Storage:
1. Pump in the morning.
I’ve heard conflicting opinions on this, but this is one of the breastfeeding tips for new mothers that I very much regret not following with our first daughter. My lactation consultant instructed me to feed my baby on one side and pump the other side for my first morning feeding each day if I wanted to build some freezer supply. This is when your breast milk supply is highest so once your body adjusts its easy for your baby to get a full feeding by only eating on one side. By pumping the other side every day you signal to your body the need for that milk as well and are able to store a full feeding each day.
When our first daughter was born I pumped for storage from both sides at 10:30pm each night after she dropped that feeding around 2-3 months of age. I built my freezer supply by doing so every night. However, because I was pumping a night feeding I could never go to bed before 10:30pm and I was getting poorer volume from the pumping than I would have in the morning. I very much regretted this strategy when I looked back at my breastfeeding journey with baby #1.
When I began pumping every morning with baby #2 I did have to feed her on both sides and pump after the feeding for a few days to increase my supply before transitioning to feeding on one side. If your baby doesn’t seem full after only one side when you first begin pumping one full side than this may be necessary.
2. Be sure your pump stays clean.
This may sound like a no-brainer. Of course your pump needs to be clean. However, I breastfed and pumped with my first daughter for many months AND breastfed and pumped with my second daughter for over a month before I realized that one of the small parts of my pump was disgustingly dirty and collecting slime! In case there’s any possibility that another mom is also not aware of this – the small yellow pieces on Medela pumps do snap off for cleaning! I don’t know about every brand, but Medela pumps have small yellow pieces on the connector between the funnel and the milk collecting container. I noticed at one point that the inside of the connector didn’t quite look clean and I fooled around with it until I happened to snap off the yellow piece. The inside had small portions of gross dark slime that I had been using the pump with for some time! Don’t make the same mistake I made – if there is a part of your pump that you think looks like it should be able to be cleaned, then it probably can be!
3. Store your pumped breastmilk in 2oz. bags.
When I pumped breastmilk for my oldest daughter I decided to freeze most of it in 6oz. quantities since that was the volume that I expected her to need by the time I thawed and used it. However, by the time I pulled it out of the freezer to use my daughter needed closer to 8oz. at a time. This meant that I had to thaw two of the bags to give her a full feeding and some of it usually went to waste.
Among my top breastfeeding tips for new mothers when it comes to pumping and storage is to freeze your pumped milk in small quantities! With my second daughter, I stored my pumped milk in 2oz. bags to freeze. This way I can vary the quantities that I need to thaw and very little of it goes to waste. It also thaws faster in such small portions!
4. Freeze your breastmilk storage bags flat.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but the entire time that I was pumping and storing breastmilk with my first daughter I didn’t realize that the bags should be frozen flat! I had a whole bunch of chunky little bags that I was trying to store upright in my freezer and they took forever to thaw!
In case anyone else out there is as clueless as I was, another one of my top breastfeeding tips for new mothers is to freeze your breastmilk storage bags flat! This makes it much easier to stack or store the bags without taking up as much freezer room. It also makes them much easier to thaw.
5. Store your frozen breastmilk bags upright in a box.
I found this nifty idea on Pinterest and it has really helped me to organize my frozen milk. After you freeze each breastmilk storage bag flat, you can store them all in date order in any container or box. It really worked well for me to take a long box and cut off one of the closing flaps to use as a center divider. This allowed me to stand my bags (that were frozen flat) in it in date order on each side for easy access to the oldest bags first when I thaw and use for bottles. You can use any type of storage method, but I recommend coming up with something that easily allows you to keep your bags in date order so you are sure to be using the oldest milk first.