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Do I need to pump a milk  stash  before I go back to work?

Many mums wonder if they’ll be able to keep expressing enough milk for their baby.

Some like to be prepared.

milk stash

How much milk you'll need to express will depend on the age of your baby and how much breastfeeding they have been doing.   

You may find that the breastmilk you express at work will be enough for the amount your baby needs the following workday. So you may not need to have a large store of frozen milk.  

Tips if you want to build up a supply 

Doing a little bit of expressing each day can be a good way to collect milk without pushing supply up too much. For example, if you collected 20 mL per day, you would make up 280 mL in a couple of weeks. This might be enough for 2 to 3 feeds when your baby is away from you. 

Storing milk in smaller quantities (50-100 mL) means your carer can adjust how much they offer based on what your baby shows they are wanting. If your carer warms up the milk and your baby doesn't need as much for this feed, then there may be less wasted. 

How much will I need? 

It can help to chat with a breastfeeding counsellor one on one to work out how much your baby might need to be offered. This will help you calculate how much milk to leave.  

Once your baby is 12 months old, you can just express for comfort and leave whatever expressed milk you have been able to pump. After 12 months, babies can do just fine with food and water, and catch up on a breastfeed when you're together.    

Some mums offer their baby a feed at childcare as soon as they arrive to pick them up. If this won’t suit your situation, be prepared to feed as soon as you get home.  

Monica's experience of pumping

What I expressed in the previous work day made up the amount for the next (so we didn't have to create a big stash or anything). And the return home feed? Priceless.

I found that depending on her developmental stage, she might require more close contact the following day after work too. We continued a great breastfeeding relationship regardless of work. 

© Australian Breastfeeding Association April 2022

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