If you are nursing and are able, building up a reserve supply of breast milk is a great idea. When my daughter was born, I was working full-time, so breast milk storage was a necessity for me.
Building up a breast milk supply will necessitate a freezing and storage system. Because of the nature of breast milk, it’s ideal to have a system where you can easily access the oldest milk. And efficiently use the freezer space.
I did all of those things wrongs in my first go-round. But I eventually figured it out.
Breast Milk Storage & Freezing Steps
1 – Decide on a “freezable quantity”. What I mean by that is decide how many ounces you want in each frozen bag.
When I went back to work, I was pumping more than I was nursing. Each day, when I came home from work, I combined the milk that was pumped into bigger bottles to take to day care the next day. Whatever surplus there was went in a separate (usually smaller) bottle and was stored in the fridge. Once that surplus reached 5 oz. – my pre-determined “freezable quantity” – I would pour it in a storage bag.
If you’re pumping solely for the purpose of building up reserves, then you can skip the combining into bottles step. Just pour the milk in the bag(s) and go to step 2.
*Tip: Even though the bags have ounce markings on them, don’t try to use the bag to measure. Use the bottles to measure and then pour.
2 – Label the Bag
All breastmilk storage bags have a spot designated to label the important details. For me, the two that mattered were the date it was pumped and the ounces. Feel free to include any other information that you find necessary.
I found that the Sharpie Ultra Fine Tip pens worked best on the bag labels, so I kept one in the storage bag box.
3 – Lay Bags Flat in Freezer
This is a game-changer.
Laying the bags down to freeze (ideally, on a flat surface – my favorite was a frozen pizza or the top of an ice cream container) makes it so that the milk freezes flat which is so much easier to store. If you set them upright in the freezer, then they become blobs with flags and there’s no good way to organize blobs.
4 – Store Flat Bags Upright in Deep Freezer Door
Obviously, this only works for people who have an upright deep freezer.
Originally, I bought this container to store the milk, only to find that it held a measly ten bags.
A deep freezer door is ideal because it’s the same width as the bags and it made grabbing the oldest milk from the front easy.
When I was adding to the supply, I put the newest milk at the back and it was a good cycle.
My favorite thing about this process was that it didn’t take any more time to do it this way than it would if I wouldn’t have been so intentional and organized with it. I only gained time and space. That’s my ideal situation!
*I’ve reached the point where I’m now using the reserves that I had stored in the deep freezer. At it’s highest point, three shelves were filled with milk, which was a lot, but didn’t seem like it because it all fit so nicely in the freezer door.
*The storage container didn’t go completely to waste. It ended up being the perfect container to take a week’s worth of breast milk to and from our day care provider (when I was giving her frozen bags instead of thawed milk in bottles). Once we got to solid food, it was ideal for storing pureed food pouches.