How much milk do I need in my freezer stash?

“The stash” is actually a modern concept that’s only a few years old. Prior to 2010 and the Affordable Care Act where anyone on an insurance plan can qualify for a free pump, very few people were doing consistent pumping unless there was a reason: a NICU stay for baby or going back to work for mom. Once more parents started getting pumps, freezer stashes because a hot thing to promote. In reality, you never need to pump if you’re exclusively breastfeeding and with your baby all the time. You don’t need a massive freezer stash to successfully breast milk feed your baby. You only need enough in the stash for the first time you’re away from baby, as the expectation is you would pump while you’re away to replace that milk. If you are breastfeeding baby and pumping milk that is going into a stash, you actually have an over supply.

For the first few weeks after delivery, the body usually makes more milk than baby needs because the body knows baby is going through cluster feeding and growth spurts. Young babies usually only take about 65-80% of what’s in the breast at any given feeding, so it’s possible to move this milk to a Haakaa, milk collector or pump. Prior to these inventions, most people just left that milk in the breast and let supply naturally regulate to what the baby was feeding. If you’re actively moving this milk and not immediately feeding it back to baby, you’re creating more milk than baby needs (over supply).

Now I’m a lactation consultant. I understand that not everyone who is pumping has an over supply. There are many people who need to pump to feed the baby with that milk that day. And there are many reasons to pump and stash milk. If you’re concerned about how effectively baby is feeding at the breast or you unique milk supply, work with an IBCLC lactation consultant to figure out if your concerns.

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