Thursday, December 15, 2011

overrun freezer

In preparation for going back to work, I've been busy. People told me to pump, and now my freezer is being taken over by bags of breast milk.

I'm confused about how the frozen/fresh thing will work though. As I understand it, Mason will eat what I pump the day before, supplemented with frozen milk if necessary. But with different rules regarding the shelf lives of fresh and frozen milk, how will I keep things straight? The frozen milk must be used within 24 hours of defrosting, so he should drink the frozen bottle first each day, which means I should label it accordingly, correct? And then if he doesn't get to all the fresh milk, it can carry over until the next day?

Is it possible to have too much frozen milk?

And how much will he eat each day anyway?

Please share any tips you have for how to make the pumping, storing, freezing, defrosting,  and serving process a little easier. I'm overwhelmed. And I'm worried about giving my baby food poisoning (is this possible?) with old milk.


Caitlin said...

Oh, this dilemma. A lot of this will depend on how much you get when pumping at work each day.

This is how I worked it out...
I pumped every three hours at work and sometimes once early in the morning before I left. I got more milk in the morning than as it got later in the day. I barely produced enough milk to keep up with him, but another friend of mine had at least an extra bag of milk each day. You'll see where you balance out after a few weeks.

Emerson ate three to four bottles a day, starting with about four oz in each bottle, from the milk I pumped the day before. If he didn't take the forth bottle, then I'd stick a note in his lunch box asking his provider to use that bottle first.

I rarely had enough milk to freeze the extras. When I did, I labeled it and stuck it in the freezer. Depending on what source you are reading, it can stay in the freezer for three months or more. I always tried to use mine up within three months. It supposedly keeps longer the further back in the freezer it is. It also keeps longer in a chest freezer, so we kept some of it in there too (I think it can stay for up to 6 months in there).

The way you laid it out with with drinking the frozen milk first, then moving to the fresh, and using the fresh the next day would work fine. You may find out you don't need to supplement with the frozen milk if you are producing enough each day.

I hated to throw out milk so if the frozen milk was getting past 2 months, I'd rotate that in and freeze some of the fresh stuff. After working so hard to get it, I couldn't stand the idea of wasting it.

I pumped into the bottles that came with the pump, transferred it right into the bottles he would drink from, and brought it home from work in those bottles. When I had extra I put them in the bags to freeze.

When it was time to defrost I ran the the bag under hot water or sat the bottle in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes. I didn't really make it warm, just closer to room/body temperature. You don't want to microwave them, something about it breaking down some of the good stuff in the milk. I would reiterate the no microwaving to the provider as well. They should know that, but if they deal mostly with formula, they might not.

I really like the website as a resource. I consulted it often until we fell into a pattern.

It definitely feels overwhelming in the beginning. It gets easier after you try it for a while. I would send more milk the first week than you think he will drink (4-6 oz in a serving probably...but you'll know how much he wants in a meal from how big of a bottle he takes when Brad feeds him). You can always re-send the bottles the next day.

I just a regular lunch box to transport his bottles--they were cheap Gerber BPA free ones with colored caps, so it was easy to say "please use the blue one first" if we needed to use one up. I stuck an ice pack in sometimes, but normally didn't need to since it only took a few minutes to get out the door to daycare.

I have no idea about the food poisoning, but I think you'd be able to tell it wasn't OK before you gave it to him. I just tried to pay a lot of attention to how long it had been in the fridge/freezer.

Good luck! Feel free to call/email me before you come back to work with any questions. It will get easier.

Lisa said...

I might hate you just a little bit for having such an awesome supply. I was happy to have two or three bags in the freezer at any given time.

Jen V said...

Caitlin has given great advice... I also sent an extra bottle to daycare. I used Dr. Brown's bottles and took them in a large ziploc. Each bottle was labeled with her name, the date, and order for use. I think she only took the extra bottle once or twice, when she was in a growth spurt. The extra one was used the next day.

I also pumped 3 times a day at work. I pumped into the medela storage bottles, instead of the bags. It was just easier for me to manage and I was less likely to spill everywhere. I bought extra sets of breast shields instead of washing between each use at work. I had the clean ones in one ziploc and the dirty ones in another. I used a pumping bustier that would allow me to not have to hold the pumping apparatus up to me the entire time I pumped -- that thing was very helpful.

Amy said...

By 3 months, he'll be eating around 30oz, 6oz at a time.So you'll probably 3 or 4 bottle for daycare. Why dont you just use the just defrosted breastmilk for daycare, then breastfeed in the morning before work, then after work/middle of the night. If he doesn't drink everything at daycare, just throw it out.

I guess it will depend if you pump at work and how much. But you could just bring that amount home, and freeze it.

We started supplementing with formula pretty early on; so having that big of a stash is all new to me.

allison kee said...

First of all...nice stash!

how much are you putting in each bag?

I read somewhere (can't remember where - sorry) frozen milk lasts about 3 months. If you have a deep freezer, even longer - Colin had no problem with drinking frozen milk that was several weeks (or even months) old. It smells a little soapier than fresh milk but I read that was normal.

Since you have so much already I would recommend start using some of your frozen milk now - you could give him some fresh milk, then alternate w/ a frozen one. With your supply it looks like you are probably pumping enough to freeze a bit every day. That way, whatever frozen milk is used is replenished instantly with what you just pumped. and essentially you are extending the life of your frozen stash.

I labeled by bags with a 'use by' date - whatever day I pumped, I tacked on 3 months.

Plus, if he hasn't tried the frozen stuff by now, might be good to see if he notices the change.

my rule of thumb at home was, anything he didn't eat, I saved until next feeding - its not going to go bad in that short amount of time.

Daycare has stricter rules. They tend to dump things after an hour or two if a bottle isn't emptied.

Defrosting - i would always pull down what i needed for the next day and place in the fridge the night before.

all that to say, good job on all the pumping. It is a huge time commitment, and quite an ordeal, the set up, etc! Still pumping at almost 11 months, so perhaps I'm a little burned out:-)

you should be proud of yourself - cuz that is ALOT of milk!

Momma Fid said...

I am cracking with with memories of my milk stash. Sometime around the time Annie was 3, Ken was cleaning out the freezer and found a bag of frozen milk.
You have a great stash but don't stress. If you run out remember this mantra...
"Formula is not poison"

Aimee @ Smiling Mama said...

Everyone is different, but I got VERY little milk when I pumped at work...I think it was partially that it was a very uncomfortable position for me (both the physical space and mentally!) so I went through my "stash" very quickly (mine wasn't as big as yours, though!). I ended up mixing whatever milk I was able to pump the prior day with formula for daycare but it was always a stressful situation. I ended up moving to breastfeeding in the morning, as soon as I got home from work and bedtime and Lucas got formula at daycare. Things like that are possible, just FYI, your body adjusts to however much baby is eating -- it's pretty darn amazing!