How Much Breastmilk Should I Store Before Returning To Work?
Baby Toddler Safety

How Much Breastmilk Should I Store Before Returning To Work?

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Are you wondering how much breastmilk should I store before returning to work? 

Your maternity leave is about to end. Going back to work probably means you can only see and breastfeed your baby when you get home.

So, what happens? 

The trick is to build a stockpile. That’s a no-brainer. The problem, though, is usually how much milk you should store. 

Here’s everything you need to know:

Why is building a stash important?

Building a stockpile is encouraged because:

  • The stash will provide milk for your baby during your first day of work.
  • If you forget your milk at the office fridge or a spill occurs, the stash will cover up for you.
  • You will be less anxious if you lack time to pump enough as you would wish on a specific day.

How much breastmilk should I store before returning to work?

To estimate how much milk your baby needs in a day, count the number of times they feed. For every feed, you give your baby 3-4 ounces. 

For example, if they provide four times a day, that’s about twelve to sixteen ounces. So you need a minimum of 12-16 ounces for your first day.

But how much milk will I store to create a safe buffer? Enough to cover 3-5 days, and that’s approximately 36-80 ounces.

It would be best if you targeted that by the time you are returning to work.

How much does a mum working 12hr shifts need to store? Note that your baby needs 1-1.5 ounces per hour when you are away for the calculation.

A shift takes 13 hours if you include a one-hour commute. Your baby thus needs 13 – 20 ounces.

How do you build the stockpile?

Building a stockpile of breastmilk for your little one might seem like a challenge. However, you can easily build it in no time with the right strategies. 

1. Pump immediately after breastfeeding 

The first strategy is to pump soon after your baby is satisfied. Your baby is not likely to deplete all the milk your body has made.

If you take advantage of this, you can always get the extra breastmilk that the baby doesn’t use and store it for the future. 

Your body produces more milk when you bond with the baby. At first, you will pump little but will improve over time, and within three weeks, you will hit your goal.

2. Have an extra feeding schedule 

Alternatively, include one extra breastfeeding session where you pump milk for your stock.

Space the times your baby likes to feed in the morning for this extra feeding session. You will get 3-4 or more ounces of milk for your stockpile.

Take note that your body produces most milk in the morning. On weekends once you get back to work, pump extra ounces of milk, and you will increase your buffer.

Pump for a maximum of 12 minutes per session.

See a related post: Can Breast Milk Spoil

What factors should you consider when storing your milk?

Have storage bags containing different amounts of milk—some 1 or 2 or 4 ounces.

Your caregiver will have an easy time getting the required amount of milk for feeding.

As a rule, once you thaw the milk, do not freeze again. Different amounts will minimize wastage.

We also recommend labeling your breastmilk by date and use, from the oldest to the latest.

Your freezer will still keep it fresh as long as it is on and there are no extended power outages.

In addition, older milk will provide your baby with the most recent inoculum of antibodies and nutrients. 


With the above tips, you no longer have to stress about how much breastmilk should I store before returning to work.

Mostly, a stockpile of 36 to 80 ounces is enough for the first day you go back to work. It is also enough to feed your baby on a rainy day.

If possible, try pumping more milk before going back to work and store it in your freezer.

Once you are back to work, you can always pump when in the office or home after breastfeeding and store the milk. 



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Iesha Mulla

Iesha is a loving mother of 2 beautiful children. She's an active parent who enjoys indoor and outdoor adventures with her family. Her mission is to share practical and realistic parenting advice to help the parenting community becoming stronger.

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