Pumping and wondering when should you start freezing breast milk? Here’s what to think about when it comes to starting and using a freezer stash.
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When should you start freezing your milk?
Whenever you have extra milk that you think you won’t need to use within three to four days of pumping it, I would go ahead and freeze it.
There is no magic amount of fresh milk you should have on hand before putting some of it in the freezer. Babies can take very different amounts in a day, some women have very consistent pumping output day to day while others do not, and some people exclusively pump while others mostly nurse.
So just use your judgment as to whether you think you’ll need it in the next few days. If not, freeze it.
(Note: Fresh breast milk can be kept in the fridge for up to four days. More on breast milk storage here.)
What if you miscalculate and end of up needing the milk?
If you end up needing milk that you had frozen, you can just thaw the amount you need.
There are a few different ways that you can do that – in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in warm water. Here is more info on each of these methods for defrosting breast milk.
How much breast milk should you freeze in a bag?
There’s no right answer here – you have to kind of test it out and see what works best for your routine. Here are some ideas:
- Freeze in small portions to make it less likely that no milk is wasted. This may not work for you if you have an oversupply, because the cost of breast milk bags can add up.
- Freeze in the portion size that your baby eats now. This can work, but because intake changes over time, this may not always be the exact amount that you need you need to thaw.
- Fill the bags to capacity. If you have an oversupply, this can help you save on breast milk bags.
- Freeze your milk in ice cube trays, so you can just grab the number of cubes that you need for a feeding.
When you go to thaw a bag that isn’t the amount of milk that you need at one feeding, thaw in cold water or in the refrigerator overnight. Then you can split up the milk to use in multiple bottles, as long as you use it within 24 hours.
When should you start using frozen breast milk?
Even if you don’t need your frozen breast milk right away, I would recommend starting to use it about two weeks after starting your stash.
Some women have an issue with having excess lipase in their breast milk. Their milk is still perfectly safe for baby to eat, but it may taste “off,” and baby may refuse it.
If you have this issue, you can scald your milk before you freezer it. But once it’s frozen, there isn’t much that you can do.
Therefore, it’s better to find out sooner rather than later – there is nothing worse than the heartbreak of building a large freezer stash, only to discover months later that your baby won’t drink it.
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For this reason, I would recommend starting rotate your milk within a few weeks after you begin freezing your milk. Rotating your milk just means using some frozen milk on a regular basis and replacing it with the fresh milk you would have fed your baby.
Hopefully this helps give you an idea of when you should start to freeze breast milk! Let us know in the comments if you have any questions.