If you are breastfeeding or exclusively pumping for your baby, you may be wondering how much breastmilk you should stockpile.
You may need to stockpile milk if you are planning a trip away from your baby, or if you are planning to freeze milk and return to work.
There are a few easy steps to calculate how much breast milk you need.
When you are figuring out how much breastmilk you need, there are also a few more questions that come up around your freezer stash.
Below are the answers to a few of the most common questions around stockpiling and building a freezer stash of breastmilk.
- How much breastmilk should I stockpile?
- How many ounces of breastmilk should I store?
- How much breastmilk should I store and freeze before returning to work?
- How much breastmilk should I store in each bag
To figure out how much breastmilk you should stockpile, you will need to consider a few different factors about you and your baby.
How Much Breastmilk Should I Stockpile?
You should aim for a stockpile of at least 3 to 5 days of breastmilk. You may need more or less depending on a few different factors.
Don’t be intimidated by some of the photos on social media of moms with freezers full of breastmilk. If you think about it, you only need a minimum of one day’s worth of breastmilk.
This is because you will pump while you are apart. So if you go to work on Monday, then you will pump on Monday for Tuesday’s bottles.
If you can pump 3 to 5 days of milk, then you will have a little bit of a buffer. It can reduce some of your stress when you are planning to build your stockpile.
Factors to consider
- How many hours you will be away from your baby each day
- How many days per week you will be away from your baby
- How much milk your baby drinks per day
The first part of the calculation is the number of hours you will be apart.
If you are in a job where you work a 12 hour shift, then you will need more milk than if you were apart for an 8 hour shift.
The second part is how many days you will be away from your baby.
If you have a job where you work 3 days per week, then you will need less milk than if you work 5 days per week.
The final part of the calculation is how much milk your baby drinks per day.
If you are exclusively pumping or if you have started feeding bottles, then this should be fairly easy to calculate.
If you are nursing full time, then you can estimate that a baby will drink anywhere from 1 to 1.5 ounces for every hour you are apart.
One of the secret tricks I found to get more milk for my stockpile was to use heat and massage.
This lactation massager I found on Amazon really helped me to pump more milk quickly when I was building up a freezer stash!
How Many oz of Breastmilk Should I Store
The number of ounces of breastmilk you should store can vary anywhere from a minimum of 14 ounces to hundreds of ounces.
If you are storing milk because you are returning to work, the minimum you will need is most likely around 14 ounces.
Many babies will drink 1 to 1.5 ounces of breastmilk for every hour they are away from mom.
On the low end, you will need to pump milk for one day of feedings. Then, the day that you are apart, you will need to pump milk for the next day.
Sample Calculation: Number of Ounces of Breastmilk To Stockpile
If you are at work at a job where you have a fairly standard schedule, like in an office or as a teacher, here is a calculation for the amount of milk you will need.
You should plan for 8 hours plus 1 hour of commute time. You can use this to estimate your baby will drink anywhere from 9 to 14 ounces of breastmilk while you are away.
1 ounce x 9 hours = 9 oz
1.5 ounces x 9 hours = 13.5 oz (and round it up to 14 oz)
Sample Calculation: Ounces of Breastmilk To Stockpile for Nurse’s Schedule
If you have a job like a nurse or a shift worker, where you work closer to 12 hours per day, then you will need a different amount of breast milk.
In this example, plan that you will be away from your baby for 12 hours plus 1 hour of commute time, so for a total of 13 hours.
1 ounce x 13 hours = 13 oz
1.5 ounces x 13 hours = 19.5 oz (round it up to 20)
If looking at these goals of how much breast milk to store starts to worry you, you can try a few different things to increase your milk supply.
One of the best things you can try is power pumping. I spill 3 secret tips to boost your milk supply with power pumping in this article.
Another thing that really helped me to stockpile milk for my baby was using a haakaa. You can check out some info on when you should start to use the haakaa in this article here.
How Much Breastmilk Should I Store Before Returning To Work
In order to figure out how many ounces of breastmilk you should store before returning to work, you will need to first know the number of days you are planning to return to work each week.
You need as little as one day’s worth of breastmilk. However, you may feel less stressed if you can store 3 to 5 days worth of breast milk.
If you are working a job where you will be apart from your baby for about 9 hours per day and 5 days per week, like if you are a teacher or work in an office, below is a good goal to aim for.
Goal for a 9 hour day, 5 day per week job (Teacher or Office):
- 1 day of breastmilk = 9 to 14 ounces
- 3 days of breastmilk = 27 to 42 ounces
- 5 days of breastmilk = 45 to 70 ounces
If you are working a job where you will be away from your baby for about 13 hours per day and 3 days per week, like if you are a nurse, then you will need a different amount of milk.
Goal for a 13 hour day, 3 day per week job (Nurse or Shift Worker):
- 1 day of breastmilk = 13 to 20 ounces
- 3 days of breastmilk = 39 to 60 ounces
If you are returning to work and usually work a 12 hour shift, then a good goal to aim for is to store 20 ounces of breastmilk. After you have met that goal, you can aim for storing 60 ounces of breastmilk.
When I pumped milk before i went back to work, I figured out a lot of tips and tricks that really helped me to save a lot of time. You can check them out here: How To Pump Milk For Daycare.
How Much Breastmilk Should I Freeze Before I Return To Work
The amount of breastmilk you should aim to freeze before returning to work is anywhere from 27 to 70 ounces.
This amount of milk will last 3 to 5 work days, but you should use the calculations above to estimate a number that is appropriate for your situation.
If you are looking to freeze breastmilk before returning to work, it is a good idea to start pumping a few weeks in advance of returning.
If you start 4 weeks ahead of returning, you will need to freeze the breastmilk so it will keep long enough for when your baby starts to drink it.
By starting four weeks ahead, that will give you 28 days to build up your freezer stash.
This means you will only need to store an extra one or two ounces of milk per day on top of what your baby eats.
How Much Breastmilk Should I Store In Each Bag
Ideally you will store anywhere from 2 ounces to 4 ounces of breastmilk per bag. This will depend on how much milk you can pump in a day.
The main thing to consider is that it is best to only allow milk to sit in the refrigerator for one or two days before freezing. This will help to ensure your milk is as fresh as possible at the time of freezing.
By storing milk in small increments, you can be sure to only defrost what you need for your baby’s bottles. This is important because once milk has thawed, you cannot put it back in the freezer.
Another benefit to storing about 4 ounces of milk per bag is that most freezer bags will lie flat nicely with this amount. This will help conserve freezer space once you start to freeze your breast milk.
When you are ready to thaw your breastmilk, be sure to use the tips in this article so you don’t spill any of your liquid gold! How To Pour Breastmilk From Bag To Bottle.
Useful Supplies For A Breastmilk Stockpile
When you are freezing breast milk bags, this gadget (link to Amazon), can help you to freeze the bags super flat so they take up less space in your freezer.
These bins (link to Amazon) also can help to keep your freezer stash organized.
Must-Have Pumping Gear
Hear are a few of my favorite pumping items that made my life so much easier.
- This is the best pumping bra that is actually comfortable to wear all day long (the Sublime version). Use code LISA20 to save 20% off your purchase!
- Try the Chocolate Fudge flavor of this yummy milk-boosting protein powder.
- Click here for the best deal on the WillowGo pump! Use code willowgo-PM (pumping mamas) to save for a limited time!
- These are the best baby bottle labels that will not wash off or wear off. The pineapple design and the whale design are two of my favorites.
- My favorite pumping bag that is roomy enough for my pump, a laptop, a cooler, and a lunch bag. They have so many cute colors and prints but I really love the Floral print. Use code LISA15 to save 15% for a limited time.
- These custom baby name onesies I found on Etsy are so adorable I ended up buying them in two different colors. The shop even has a really cute matching mommy and me set.
- I used this tiny mini fridge (link to Amazon) near my pumping station at home so I didn’t have to trek to the kitchen after a middle of the night pumping session.
- This postpartum care box has a couple of my must-have items for the first few months after baby arrives. The tubes that help with engorgement provide so much relief.
- If you enjoyed this article, you can help support this blog by buying me a coffee here. Your support is very much appreciated!
More Pumping Tips
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- How To Use Breast Milk Bags & How Many Do You Need