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This is part of Breast Milk Storage and Handling series.
Other articles in this series:
- How to Freeze Breast Milk | 10 Things You Need to Know
- How to Thaw and Warm Frozen Breast Milk | 10+ Practical Tips To Know
- How to Rotate Your Breast Milk Stash (this article!)
If you have quite a substantial amount of freezer stash, you may wonder, what you are going to do with your stash?
How to rotate your breast milk freezer stash so that none of them gets wasted?
After all, pumping is a labor of love, no one says pumping is fun, and your breast milk stash is just like a gold mine.
Here's how to do it.
In general, mothers tend to do one of these options:
(1) All feeding from frozen stash on Monday (or choose one of any particular day), while on other days: all feeding comes from fresh milk that you pumped the day before. All pumped milk on Friday goes to freezer.
Method (1) is less hassle because you only deal with one type of milk every single time, either take all from freshly pumped milk OR take all from frozen stash.
But, this only works if you are able to pump enough milk for your little one every single day.
Which, in most of the case, still true when we are just back to office (our supply is still good), but when it starts to drop, it won't no longer work.
(2) Use combine feeding every day, that means: part of the feeding will still be from fresh pumped milk while the another chunk is from frozen milk.
If you use method number (2), the next question is: How much is a good ratio?
That depends on several factors.
First of all, we need to know the difference between frozen milk and fresh pumped milk.
Have you ever heard, that your breast milk is constantly evolving as your baby grows?
That means the nutrition / fat content of your milk when your baby is 2-month old will be different compared to when your baby is 4-month old, and so on.
Having said this, I don't mean that frozen milk is not nutritious at all, definitely not.
It still contains abundant source of nutrients and antibodies that's wonderful for your baby.
But, in terms of priority, fresh breast milk is preferred from frozen ones, simply because its content matches what your baby exactly needs at the moment.
This is why, most mothers prefer to give as much as fresh milk to their babies as opposed to frozen milk.
And when you want to combine the two, the popular ratio would be one feeding from frozen milk and the rest of the feedings from fresh breast milk.
When doing so, that means one bottle of your pumped milk will go to freezer every single day.
Does it mean that you can't give more than one bottle of frozen milk every day?
It's up to you, really.
Especially when your milk supply suddenly decreases, you will need to take more bottles from your freezer stash.
In my case, I was on deficit mode most of the time (lol), such that most of the time I would take 2 bottles of frozen milk to top up the deficit.
Well, that's about it, ways you can rotate your freezer stash.
I know you may have some questions, so I'll address some popular ones here.
What if you have a really huge stash of frozen milk that's going to expire if you don't use it quickly?
Well, of course, you can always have all feedings come from frozen, until your frozen stash is within a safe 'expiry limit', and after that, you can start feeding your baby with combo fresh-frozen.
Or, if you feel that you are producing more than enough for your baby even from the fresh one, why not thinking of donating the milk to the needy baby?
Note: if you are muslim and thinking of donation, please check on the rule of mahram due to milk sharing.
How to easily manage the frozen stash (especially when you are taking out / putting in milk every single day)?
First, keep a journal to lists out each milk bag / bottle that you have in your stash with its pumping date (optional: amount of pumped milk) so that you can easily check on its expiry date.
Whenever you put new milk in, add one more entry.
Whenever you take milk out, cross the corresponding entry.
Here's a sample of mine (it's a simple one).
Of course, you can create a pretty spreadsheet or buy a ready-to-use one like this (I love the phrase 'milk machine', heheh).
Second, make sure to use the oldest milk first.
If you use milk bags, a system like Milky Freeze will help you to ensure you use your oldest milk first.
Alternatively, you can use a shoe-box like container, arrange such that the oldest is in front, and when you are ready to freeze some fresh milk, put it at the back end.
If you use milk bottles like I did, I would just put the new bottle in front of the stacks of bottles, and on weekend I'd rearrange it such that the newest will be on the back - bottom part of the freezer (see the picture).
And, finally, just a reminder that your frozen milk will last differently, depending on what type of freezer you use.
Here's a quick recap about how long frozen breast milk can stay good, but for a more detailed information, Kellymom has a complete article that explains how long to store, as well as how to thaw and serve your breast milk.
Type of Freezer
How long the milk lasts
Freezer compartment inside 1-door fridge
Separate freezer unit of 2-door or 3-door fridge
Chest / deep freezer
Note: sometimes you may notice different sources cite different time frame for each particular breast milk storage (whether it is in room temperature, cooler bag, chiller, or freezer). If you are feeling confused about this, Nancy Mohrbacher has a great explanation about this. Click here to check it out.
I hope this article helps you to decide how you can rotate and manage your breast milk freezer stash.
Now, onto you.
Do you have any tips for easier frozen milk management?
Which method of frozen milk rotation do you prefer?
If you are an experienced breastfeeding mom, don't hesitate to share your story and tips below.
Remember, by sharing your story, you are helping new mothers who are still not sure on what to do about their frozen stash.
Sharing is helping =)