One day, I am going to host a show on TLC called “Milk Hoarders.” In this show, I will surprise a breastfeeding mom by knocking on her door asking to see her freezer stash of milk.
She will sheepishly take me to the kitchen and show me a freezer full to the brim with bags of breastmilk. On the door of the freezer there are 2 bags of frozen peas and a pint Ben & Jerry’s for later that night. There is nothing else in the freezer because there is no room for anything else.
I will ask her “where is the rest?”
She will say, “this is it!” But, I have a 7 year old and I know a bad lie when I see one. I will give that “don’t bullshit a bullshitter” kind of stare.
She will admit “well, there is the chest freezer in the garage that is also full.”
Why do you have so much milk in your freezer? Do you even know how much milk is in the freezer?
Sure it is nice to have a little freezer stash for work. In fact, I recommend you have 3 daycare days worth of milk in your freezer if you are a full time working, pumping mom. But that is 40-50 oz tops.
If you are an Exclusive Pumper (Eper), you may have as much milk in your freezer as you can possibly stuff. You can even keep some in grandma’s freezer. EPers like to hope that their milk will outlast their pumping for a few weeks or months. But they are regularly using their milk, so they are savers, not hoarders.
So, why do YOU have so much milk in your freezer?
Is it just in case you are hit by a bus and you are in a coma for 3 weeks? When I was breastfeeding, I made my husband promise me that if I slipped into a coma, he would come in and pump my breasts every 3 hours in the ICU to maintain my milk supply.
Is it so you can feel like you can go out whenever you want? So you don’t feel so “trapped” by breastfeeding? Great. Keep a few 2-4 oz bottles for just such an occasion. Not 300 2-4 oz bottles.
Is it because you have such an oversupply of milk that you can’t just breastfeed without feeling engorged? Your body has a physical addiction to feeding your baby’s twin brother Pumpie.
Now, if you are rotating this milk out and using it, great. But, if you directly breastfeed your baby most of the time and you are properly pumping everyday at work, you won’t even put a dent in that 200 oz, 500 oz, or 1000 oz freezer stash. It expires in 6 months and you will waste it.
Every time a hoarder tosses expired milk from her freezer, a fairy dies.
I’ve got 3 major problems with hoarding. Ready to hear them?
1. Hoarding is fear driven behavior.
You are paranoid about what might happen to you. You are convinced that one morning you will wake up and your milk will be gone. You equate formula with failure (which it isn’t) and you feel that if you have enough milk in your freezer, you will never need to use formula, ie you will never feel like a failure.
If you are feeding your freezer to keep the fear in check, then you need to take a hard look at the fear that is controlling your behavior. The hoarding is a symptom of those fearful thoughts.
2. Your baby will most likely never drink all that milk, but there are babies that need that milk.
Donate or peer share. Don’t let your milk expire before little tiny NICU babies get a chance to drink it.
Human Milk for Human Babies
3. If you don’t know how much you have, you don’t know how much you need.
In The Pumpin’ Mama’s Blueprint, I teach mother’s how to build their back to work freezer stash in a very deliberate way. Even if a Pumpin’ Mama has a lot more milk in her freezer than she needs, I have her calculate her freezer stash and store it all together in 1 bin. A Pumpin’ Mama always knows exactly how much milk is in her freezer stash. She knows how much she takes from her freezer stash on Sunday night to defrost for Monday. She knows how much milk she returns to her freezer stash on Friday night. If she didn’t put the same # of oz back in on Friday that she took out on Sunday, then she knows her milk supply dipped slightly and she needs to pay attention to getting it back up.
The freezer stash is the pulse of her milk supply. If she has an abundance of milk, she may feel that she doesn’t need to work to increase her supply when she comes up a little short at the end of the week. THAT is the beginning of the downfall of a Pumpin’ Mama’s supply.
So, if you are going to be a hoarder, at least know how much milk you have in your freezer and use that information to gather information about your milk supply.
Bottom line. Keep as much milk as you want in your freezer, but please use it. Know how much is there and when it expires.
Jayna was a hoarder….until she found out that when she thaws her milk it spoils.
Clare was a hoarder…until her son developed a cow’s milk sensitivity and couldn’t drink any of that milk.
Katie Madden was a hoarder…until her daughter refused to take a bottle. She killed a lot of fairies.