Q: I'm planning to go back to work two months after I give birth? How much breast milk should I store? And how soon should I start storing breast milk?
A: Breast milk should be the only nutrition of a child up to six months old. And even if mom will return to work, this is still possible. It's all about preparation.
Generally, it is recommended to directly feed the baby for the first six weeks of life as this is the time the body needs to master the timing and amount of breast milk a baby needs. On about the seventh week, mom can start expressing her milk, using her hand or a breast pump so that she can store milk for her baby. Mommy should start pumping every two hours in between feedings and not mind the amount of milk she produces. Whenever it reaches two ounces, she can then put it in a storage container and freeze it for future use.
Books say that moms should have two weeks’ worth of supply for babies when they get back to work. That should be about 80 ounces or 40 containers of 2-ounce breast milk. Realistically though, because of all the pressure and strain a new mom has, five to seven days’ worth of supply is ideal enough (40-56 ounces). Some moms are successful even below this amount. However, baby may undergo growth spurts which will lead to baby tending to nurse more often. Hence, it is really better to have at least five days’ worth of stock just in case a baby has an increased demand for milk (due to growth spurt) for about two to four days.