I am a parent who seeks to do things in a way that makes the most practical sense. I want to save myself time and effort because, as a working parent, I am often short on time and energy. If that applies to you, or if you a breastfeeding mom looking for guidance on the easiest way to provide breastmilk for your child while you’re away, this post is for you.
Some women pump, pump, pump like crazy to get a freezer stash established before returning to work. I did not do this. I pumped a few times 1-2 weeks before going back: once to get enough milk to introduce Jack to a bottle, and then I pumped a few more times to get enough milk for one day at daycare. Fresh milk has the most nutrients, nutrients that are lost during the freezing process, so I avoid freezing as much as possible. Additionally, milk that is stored properly in the refrigerator will be good for up to eight days in the refrigerator, so even if I take a few days off (say, the weekend) I don’t need to freeze. I pump milk each day I’m at work and send it along to daycare the next day.
For the first year of Jack’s life, I pumped using my Ameda Purely Yours three times per day, every 2.5 hours or so while separated from him, for 10 minutes (although for most women 15-20 minutes is the recommended pumping session length to mimic usual nursing sessions). Pumping every 2-3 hours while away from your baby keeps supply up, as does ensuring that the breasts are emptied as much as possible by the pump. I generally was able to pump 12 ounces per day, which is definitely on the high side. [With the number of times and length of my pumping sessions, most moms would get 6-9 ounces per day.] Using the handy-dandy milk calculator from Kellymom, I determined that I should send 10 ounces along with Jack to daycare, about one ounce for every hour he would be away from me plus a tad extra just in case he hit a growth spurt. Most days he drank 6-7 ounces because I nursed him before dropping him off in the morning and as soon as I picked him up. The timing worked out well. And since he nursed throughout the night untile he was a year old, I was easily able to use the 1oz. per hour rule (since intake should be 19-30 ounces per day, so an average of 25 ounces).
Since breastmilk can stay at room temperature for 10 hours, I do not wash my pump parts after each pump session. I store them in ziplock baggies that I wash every night along with the parts. [Note: if you are prone to thrush, it is a good idea to sterilize parts between pumping sessions.] I leave my valves assembled to the horns to save myself a little time, and I combine milk from the two collection bottles into one in order to reuse one for the next session whenever possible. This cuts down on dishes to wash.
When I get home, I pour the milk I pumped that day into a jar (glass canning jars work well) that holds a little over 10 ounces of liquid. I reuse one of three jars I own every day (avoiding waste that would be created if I used the milk storage bags), and use an insulated ”bottle pod” that I bought from the bullseye store for transport to daycare. The daycare provider can pour 2-3 ounces of milk from the large jar into Jack’s bottle to warm for each feeding, and warmed milk that he doesn’t finish can be offered at the next feeding (or discarded after 2 hours if not reused). [I instruct the daycare provider to offer a bottle every 2-3 hours if Jack doesn't cue for it sooner.] We make use of every drop of milk that we can!
Any extra milk that gets frozen is pulled out on a weekend if I have an unplanned outing (although most often I just have Joe take from the milk stored on Friday and I will pump to make up the difference for the Monday stash while I am out) or other emergency. I rarely use my frozen milk, and when we moved I threw out over 30 ounces of expired milk. Generally you have to have 100 ounces to donate to a milk bank, and I was not organized enough to list the milk on a milkshare site in time. If you wonder why you should be careful about using your freezer stash, go here.
Any questions? Need clarification on anything or did I forget something? I am happy to provide more info if you ask in the comments section.