Going Back to Work: How Much 'Stash' Do I Need?

If you’ve recently have a baby, are breastfeeding, and are planning on going back to work- then pumping and saving your breastmilk stash are probably a pretty big concern. Ensuring that your baby will have enough milk while you are at work each day can be a huge comfort when returning back to work. Although rewarding, this task can be daunting! So today- we’ve created a plan just for you- on how to create your breastmilk stash prior to returning to work.

Creating a plan on how to make your stash is key. The next few sections are some practical steps to ensuring your breastmilk stash. Everything from how to store breastmilk, to when to start creating your stash, and how to ensure your childcare provider feeds your baby in a paced way.

How to Store Breastmilk
Proper storage of breastmilk is essential to developing your stash.

Learn more about proper storage here.

Breastmilk can be stored in the fridge for 7 days. Any milk that will not be consumed within 7 days should be stored in the freezer. Many moms like to have a back-up freezer stash, in case they need some extra milk from their fridge stash.

How to Create Your Stash & When to Start
One question clients ask us often is, how much milk do I need stored before I go back to work, and when do I need to start pumping? This is such a concern that I’ve even had clients intend to pump as soon as possible to build their stash for going back to work. It can be such a stressor!

A good way to start building your stash is to pick a time of day that you always know you can pump. For many mothers this will either be first thing in the morning, or right before bed time. Personally what worked for me was setting a timer for each night at 10pm. The consistency of pumping at this time each day allowed me to build my (small) freezer stash. Most women have the biggest milk production first thing in the morning around 6-7am- so it can be advantageous to pump during this time.

How Much Stash Do You Need?
Infants 1-6 months old usually consume 19-30 oz of breastmilk per day. Consequently, breastfeeding mothers feeding one baby produce 19-30 oz of breastmilk per day. This gives you a good ballpark range of how many ounces a day your baby will consume. It’s also important to remember this is not the amount they will consume during the day when you’re at work, The 19-30 oz range is in a 24 hour period.

The average meal for an infant is 3-5 oz of breastmilk. You can count how many feeds your baby will need while you’re at work- and that will help you determine approximately how many ounces you’ll need.

Having a 1-2 week supply stash in your freezer (5-10 days worth) gives you a good buffer to start going back to work. But you can honestly do just fine with a ONE DAY stash. Yes. A one day stash is all you need.

Teaching Pace Feeding to Your Caregiver
Another aspect to creating your stash that is often overlooked is teaching your child’s care giver about pace bottle feeding. Breastfed babies have different nutritional needs than formula fed babies- and many caregivers don’t know about this (but many do).

For babies 1-6 months old, the average meal is 3-5oz of breast milk. Breastmilk fed babies need less milk than formula fed babies because formula can be harder to digest, and absorb. Formula fed babies will still get the nutrients they need- they just may need more food to do it.

Some tips:

  • Pack your baby’s bottles in single servings
  • Teach your care provider about paced bottle feeding, so your baby doesn’t gobble up the feeding
  • Discuss different soothing techniques the care provider can use in place of foo

Here is an informational video teaching paced bottle feeding.

I hope you’ve found some good insight from this article. Please share with us any or your own personal “stash building” hacks.  If you’re in the NYC area, check out our upcoming Back-to-Work 101 class, on September 22nd from 12:30-2:30pm in Park Slope! We’d love to see you there. Please share with any friends you think could benefit!


Jen Mayer