6 Tips for Pumping and Storing Breast Milk

I have mixed feelings towards pumping.

On the one hand, it’s really time consuming, boring, and generally a major pain in the ass.

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But, of course we’re going to continue to do it for our darling little offspring that needs the nourishment which happens to include all of our antibodies. That last part is so they don’t stay sick for very long-if they happen to get sick. You, however, get sick and STAY sick because that adorable little bundle (or big toddler) is taking all of your little sick fighters. (Can you tell I’m bitter because I’m recovering from a cold?)

But again, we’re still going to do it.

I like to consider myself something of an expert, (not really something to brag about…) I pumped for a bit over a year for my daughter 6-8 times every day. That included waking up in the middle of the night once or twice. I could have chosen not to. I could have used formula (which is a valid option.) But as a stay at home mom, I felt I had the time and supply to give her breast milk for at least awhile.

Here are some my tips on pumping and storing breast milk that I had to learn the hard way.

Don't learn the hard way like me, here are my 6 Tips for Pumping and Storing Breast Milk.

1. Get a good pump.

Depending on how often you need to pump depends on what type of pump you should get. Do you pump once a day? A single pump would probably be fine. Do you pump four or more times a day? Get a double pump, unless you want to spend every waking moment pumping. You can see my pump reviews here.

2. Find a storing option that works best for you.

When I first started, I was pumping in bottles, then freezing them. After awhile, I would run out of bottles, and space, in my freezer. If you’re going through most of your milk daily, then bottles may work for you. But since I was pumping so much, with a high supply, I needed a more efficient way to freeze my milk. I started getting Lansinoh milk storage bags and I have never looked back.

3. Freeze your bags lying down. IMG_1568.JPGAfter you pump, make sure the bag is sealed tight, then put it in the freezer laying down. When it’s frozen, you can stack them upright in the back of your freezer.IMG_1571.JPG Sure, freezing them upright still preserves the milk, but it can be a little bit awkward storing a few bags.IMG_1567.JPG Another bonus for freezing the milk while laying it down, is it thaws a lot faster. Trust me, I know.

4. Label your milk bags, (or bottles).IMG_1570.JPG I was so diligent for so long! But near the end of pumping for my daughter, I started to slack.

I was at my parents’ house when my son was a few months old and we found a milk bag in their freezer. Not labeled. Was it a new one, within the last few weeks? Or was it from two years ago? Not willing to risk it, it went in the trash. Any of you pumping mama’s out there know how painful that can be.

5. Clear out a spot in your freezer.

If your supply is really high, and you need to store a lot of it, make sure you have the space for it . I’m lucky because we have a freezer right outside my bedroom that I was able to use solely for breast milk. At one point, I had over 1,000 ounces in it.

6. Consider donating it.

That is, if you have a lot of it, and you don’t think your kiddo will get through all of it in time. There are a lot of mamas out there that would love nothing more than to give their baby breastmilk, but they either can’t produce enough, or can’t produce at all. There are plenty of milk sharing sites on Facebook. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet some great friends! Either way, you will be giving another baby, and their parents, a wonderful gift.

These are just a few tips that I wish I had known when I got started.

Pumping can definitely be a pain, but it’s worth it. And as for being boring? That’s why we have smart phones.

Happy pumping!

Do you have any tips you’d like to add?

Pumping isn't the only part about breastfeeding that has a learning curve. Storing that breastmilk after you pump is important too!

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21 Comments

  • Reply andthreetogo

    I was one of those strange ladies that had too much Lipase in their breast milk, so I had to scald the milk before freezing it, otherwise it would taste sour to Z. It was what had to be done, but it was pretty time consuming. I agree about the good pump for sure, I got a cheap one and paid for it in time and pain. ๐Ÿ™‚

    September 23, 2014 at 6:54 pm
    • Reply mamabyfire

      My friend has lipase in her milk too so she never pumped and saved it. I had no idea you could scald it then freeze it! I wonder if she knows… I went through three pumps-ridiculous!

      September 23, 2014 at 7:00 pm
  • Reply Naomi

    I could never get a let down except with the baby herself. Anyone have any tips for that for beginner moms out there?

    September 24, 2014 at 6:47 am
    • Reply mamabyfire

      I’ve heard that if you have something with you that smells like baby and you smell it, or if you have a picture of your baby, it helps with let down. And for some people, if they hear a baby cry, that helps too. I wish I could be more help! Good luck!

      September 24, 2014 at 8:16 am
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Naomi, I asked twitter. So far, a mama suggested to pump on the opposite boob you are nursing on at the same time. Worth a shot…

      September 24, 2014 at 8:53 am
      • Reply Naomi

        Thanks! I meant more for other first time moms, as my little one is four years old, now. Anyone else reading can see those tips!

        September 27, 2014 at 10:31 am
        • Reply mamabyfire

          Lol! Oops! Sorry! โ˜บ๏ธ

          September 27, 2014 at 7:52 pm
  • Reply You, Baby and I

    I understand what you mean, I’ve been there.

    September 26, 2014 at 8:23 am
  • Reply Valerie

    WHOA, you pumped 6-8 a DAY?! You are one tough cookie! I pumped a few times a day with my first because I worked part time, and I couldn’t stand it. I did it, but I couldn’t stand it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    September 26, 2014 at 10:27 am
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Yeah, it was pretty lame. But we do what we gotta do and eventually get used to it. By then, I didn’t have to do it anymore!

      September 26, 2014 at 2:28 pm
  • Reply Rebekah

    That’s a lot of pumping! I pumped a few times a day, for the first couple of months, after Cameron was born and my milk supply was high. I can’t imagine doing it for a year!

    September 26, 2014 at 1:46 pm
  • Reply threeboysandamom

    Pumping is not an enjoyable activity! But good for you for being so dedicated to it. I pumped for extra supply and when in was working but now I luckily don’t have to pump much. I still do every now and then so I have some,frozen stash for just in case occasions but my son just does not like bottles or pumped milk. He’s a straight from the tap kinda guy. Good tips for pumping mamas though. If you wanna be extra crunchy, there are ways to make soap and lotion out of breastmilk, or do a milk bath with the extra and it’s supposedly really good for the skin.

    September 27, 2014 at 7:00 am
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Very true. Since my son nurses, i only pump once a day-thankfully! I think I did it plenty for my daughter. I had no idea people made stuff with their milk. It is definitely amazing stuff!!

      September 27, 2014 at 7:48 pm
      • Reply threeboysandamom

        Yeah! Breastmilk….it’s not just for feeding babies anymore haha! Keep up the good work mama

        September 27, 2014 at 8:43 pm
  • Reply zofloya11

    This is really interesting, I have never really expressed milk at any real volume, when Boo was about 4/5 months I did express and store some of the bottles, but they took too much space up in the freezer, I should have got some of the bags, great tip about freezing them lying down!
    Great advice though and as I am going back to work soon I may have to look into expressing milk in a more consistent way, so will be looking at your pump reviews!!

    October 1, 2014 at 2:37 am
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Love the bags!! I hope it’s helps! Good luck!!

      October 1, 2014 at 7:48 am
  • Reply sophieblovett

    I had to do lots of pumping in the early days as my son had a tongue tie so it took a while to get things settled… My supply was great so I froze lots thinking I could use it further down the line – then when we came to do so it smelt gross! I’ve since realised that I’m probably one of those lipase ladies too and I ended up throwing it all away ๐Ÿ™ Not that Arthur would ever take a bottle even of freshly expressed milk! We cup fed him for the first few weeks but since then it’s been boobs or nothing… X

    October 2, 2014 at 8:58 am
  • Reply Zena's Suitcase (@zenas_suitcase)

    I did a lot of pumping when number 2 was born to increase my supply and her weight. It me left me with nightmares about pumping. If I had to do it I absolutely would for all the reasons you mentioned, but as I’m at home at the moment i’m giving it a wide birth for all the reasons you mentioned! Great post and great advice, thanks for linking up again with the #BFingDiaries

    October 7, 2014 at 2:10 am
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Thank you, Zena! I’m so happy my youngest is a nurser! I don’t want to revisit my constantly pumping days.

      October 7, 2014 at 9:42 am
  • Reply Breastfeeding From Birth to Finish - Healthy Happy Thrifty Family

    […] out the tips on pumping and storage from Tarynn at Mama by […]

    May 23, 2017 at 8:58 am
  • Reply Mama By Fire - Breastfeeding Tips for the New Nursing Mama - Mama By Fire

    […] 6 Tips for Pumping and Storing Breast Milk-Six tips on pumping and milk storage that I discovered with a little trial and error. […]

    June 20, 2017 at 5:22 pm
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