So, with my first I did no freezer storage whatsoever & I regretted it. I regretted it when I went back to work shortly after he was born and my milk supply completely DROPPED! It was almost impossible for me to bring it back up. Plus, while my work did have a mother's room for pumping mothers, I felt guilty taking as many pumping "breaks" as I would need to keep it up. No one else in my department was a mom, there were a 1 or 2 fathers, but I just didn't think anyone really understood. It felt like people just thought I was relaxing in the break room & skipping out on work, even though that was not the case at all.
I am a stay at home mom now, and so I probably don't "need" a freezer stash, but I opted for one for emergencies.
I did struggle in the beginning with an initial oversupply of milk right after Farrah was born which led to plugged ducts and eventually mastitis & then an allergic reaction (hives) to the medication they gave me to treat mastitis. This then led to a decrease in my milk supply. So it was tough.
I worked hard to increase it.
I purchased Brewers Yeast, added Ground Flaxseed to everything and even started eating oatmeal & drinking coconut water even though I hate both of those things! And you know what? It worked! After a couple days my milk supply increased. I was pretty prone to plugged ducts after that bout of mastitis, and so occasionally my supply would drop a little, but for the most part I produced a ton of breast milk!
I was happy. I had enough milk where every time I pumped I could give one bottle to Farrah & one would go in a freezer bag & straight into the freezer.
This built up my freezer stash very quickly! But I never touched it! Why? Because fresh breast milk was just so much more convenient for multiple reasons:
- It is already the right temperature.
- It can stand for up to 6 hours at room temperature before expiring.
- I always forgot to pull breast milk out of the freezer to thaw.
Okay, so when my freezer started to fill up I decided I should probably start rotating out. When I actually started using this milk I learned a couple of things that I wish I had known ahead of time:
- Freezer milk is a lot more temperamental.
- it is only good for 24 hours in the fridge (and takes almost as long to thaw completely).
- it is only good for 1 hour standing at room temperature.
- Yes, I taste my breast milk. I noticed that anything from the freezer older than about 6 weeks started to taste more iron-y/metallic. Why? I guess this has something to do with the enzymes that digest milk(lipase) breaking down the fats while the milk is stored. The milk is still perfectly fine for baby, but some babies don't like the taste.
- I read that you can prevent the metallic taste from happening if you heat the breast milk on the stove (not oven) until the edges start to bubble, then let it cool, & freeze it. This works because it stops the activity of those enzymes.
- I have never tried it, but honestly, the whole house falls apart when I pump. David turns into a little toddler tornado & I really don't have time to heat milk on the stove & watch it to make sure it doesn't turn into a rolling boil.
So what would I do differently?
I would definitely start rotating out freezer milk every couple weeks. This taste is something I only noticed in my older milk, so instead I recommend rotating it out and not waiting until the milk is already 3 months old to do it.
I am pretty lucky and Farrah will drink the older, metallic-y tasting milk, but I do feel pretty bad giving it to her and avoid it as much as possible. My sister has had success feeding her son bottles that are half fresh and half frozen breast milk to minimize the taste so that is another option. Otherwise, scald the milk like I mentioned before.
But honestly, this is something NO ONE talks about when mentioning their freezer milk & I really wish I had known about it when I started storing breast milk.
One more thing!
If you are using those Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags (which is what I use) and you are thawing the milk in the fridge, be sure to set those bags in like a tupperware container or a small bowl because I have had a couple leakers! I think it's because the frozen milk can be sharp when frozen & sometimes cuts into the plastic baggies. Nothing's worse than spilt milk!