Breastfeeding Hacks & How to Build a Freezer Stash
I have a weird relationship with breastfeeding. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either. But, I know that it’s so great for Jack! It’s also been a nice way to slow down and bond with him each day, but on the flip side it’s time-consuming and exhausting.
Yet, here I am, a little over 2 months in and still pushing through, and honestly, each week, it just gets easier and easier as it becomes part of our routine. In those early days though, I had some moments where I was ready to throw in the towel!
See? A real love-hate thing going on here.
I’m not an expert or breastfeeding fanatic (obviously), but I learned a lot during my almost 6-month breastfeeding journey with Owen, and was bummed that I learned a lot of these tricks and hacks during the very last few months or weeks I was feeding Owen. They would have been so helpful had I known them from the start.
I’ve been putting them to use this time and it’s made such a difference, so I wanted to share with you guys since I know so many of your are mamas or soon-to-be mamas!
Supply & Demand
If you’re struggling with a supply issue, it might be because your baby isn’t feeding long enough or often enough. To boost supply, feed your baby more regularly and make sure they’re emptying the boob each time. Your body will only make more if there’s a demand for more! Pumping or hand expressing after each feeding can also help boost your supply too.
Of course, this isn’t true for everyone, some people do struggle with a supply issue, so if this doesn’t work for you, talk to your doctor!
This might seem weird at first because it’s honestly like milking yourself, but it works! And it helps to empty your boob if your baby doesn’t feed long like mine. This helps with the whole supply and demand issue too and is a really easy way to boost your supply.
I try to hand express for 2-5 minutes after any feeding where he doesn’t eat for long. This has become less of an issue as he gets older and eats more, but for a while, it was necessary. It doesn’t always happen, but I can tell a big difference when I do it regularly!
Admittedly, I’ve struggled with this hack lately. I think it’s because I’m constantly chasing around Owen and don’t have as much time to sit down and think about my own needs. But, if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
You can’t pour from an empty cup, so make sure to take care of yourself, and of course drink plenty of water to keep up with breastmilk production.
Breastmilk Changes with Baby’s Needs
Like I mentioned, I mostly pumped and bottle fed Owen. At first, it was GREAT! I would pump so much that I could feed him several bottles from a single pump. But, I started noticing that my breastmilk consistency was changing and looking thinner and thinner.
I listened to this podcast episode on breastmilk and was fascinated. I learned that your body absorbs baby’s saliva and in turn produces milk with exactly what your baby needs. This is especially great for boosting their immunity, so I stopped pumping for a while and went back to breastfeeding. Quickly, my milk changed again!
I had one of those moments where I was like, “holy cow, the human body is truly amazing!!!”
Later in my breastfeeding journey, I tried out Legendairy Milk supplements (Pump Princess and Liquid Gold worked best for me) to boost my supply and the quality of my milk and they did wonders for me! I’ll probably try them again this go around too.
They don’t work for everyone, but I had a great experience and say that you don’t know until you try!
How to Build a Freezer Stash
I recently bought this freezer and put it in our garage to store extra milk and it’s been great! We now have space in our actual freezer for food again! It’s not massive, but it’s plenty big considering it’s main purpose is holding milk!
Use a Haakaa While Feeding
This is my number one tip for creating a good freezer stash early on without extra pumping. I attach the Haakaa to the boob I’m not feeding on and it collects the extra milk that naturally comes down from your body’s letdown. I’m always blown away by how much there is! Usually 1-2oz.
Throughout the 8-10 feeding a day, that adds up! I’ve been able to save at least one 6oz. bag per day, most days I save a total of 12oz!
Hand Express After Feeding
Jack usually only feeds on one side before falling asleep, so I use the Haakaa on the other and then hand express into the Haakaa to make sure both sides are even. When I do this, that 1-2oz. is more like 2-3oz., sometimes 4oz. in the morning.
Lastly, adding 1-2 pump sessions to your day can also help you build a good freezer stash, plus it can help to boost your supply. Jack’s last feed of the day is a bottle and I pump before I go to bed.
When to Use your Freezer Stash
Use this whenever you need it! Don’t feel guilty for dipping into it, that’s what it’s there for! One thing I will say is that if you’re planning on switching to formula, use up your breastmilk first. I was doing sort of a hybrid formula-breastmilk thing and within a few weeks, Owen started refusing my breastmilk and I tossed so much of it.
This time, I will feed Jack all that precious milk before transitioning him so it doesn’t go to waste.
A Quick Note on Weaning
One thing I didn’t do a great job of was slowly weaning with Owen. If you remember, I mostly pumped and bottle fed him, as well as gave him formula. One morning I was pumping and mid-pump, it stopped working. Like, completely died. I took it as a sign that I should be done which at that point, I was really happy about.
What I didn’t expect was how my body would react. It was still making milk, but none was coming out (ouch!), and my hormones went bonkers. This time around, I plan to wean a little more strategically to avoid the hormone craziness, because honestly, that was the worst of it all.
Fed is Best
While I’m currently breastfeeding, I truly believe that fed is best! If you want to breastfeed, great! If not, great! It’s a very personal choice and your child will thrive no matter what.
I’ve done a combination of breastfeeding, pumping and bottle feeding and formula feeding and my kids are healthy and know they are loved. At the end of the day, what’s more important than that?!