You may remember that a couple weeks ago I mentioned that nursing was hard! Well for me, the hardest part was that we had to exclusively bottle feed Julius for the first few weeks of his life because I couldn’t get him to latch! This meant I pumped milk to feed Julius starting from day one! Lucky for me I didn’t have any supply problems – the first time I pumped, I pumped 4 oz of milk in fifteen minutes! For reference, many moms are happy to express just a few drops to feed their baby for the first feed.
After this happened I found out that my great grandmother had been a nursing surrogate during WWII, providing milk for babies whose mothers couldn’t produce. In exchange she received extra food rations during the war. Apparently I got her genes (which was lucky for me)! Well by the end of the first week I was pumping 8 oz in a sitting and the milk was accumulating in the fridge. I started looking into freezing milk and milk storage since I didn’t have nearly enough bottles to store milk. I have a Medela Pump in Style pump, so my mom bought me some Medela milk storage bags to try out. I really liked that when they were full of milk, they’d stand up on their own. Plus the bags come with adapters so you can pump directly into them!
After using a whole box of medela pump and save bags, I went to buy another set of them and balked at the price. They are $.27 a bag! That doesn’t sound like much, but in the beginning I was going through around 25 bags a week. 25 bags! Not to mention the bags are only 5 oz each, so frequently I’d have to use 4 bags in one sitting. Another problem is storage. You have to freeze the bags standing up, so they take up a TON of room in the freezer. Given all these problems, I looked for another solution.
What I decided to purchase after trying several bags and reading hundreds of reviews were the Philips Avent breastmilk storage bags. They are half the price of the Medela bags, they hold 6 oz and they have a double zipper so you can freeze them flat. In addition, they are a very stiff material like the Medela bags, so they will stand on their own after you pour milk in them. Oh, and they are recyclable! It doesn’t say it on the packaging, but I called Philips directly (and asked them on amazon) and they responded that they are indeed recyclable. So the only real problem with the bags is that you can’t pump into them directly. That is, you can’t pump directly into them, without my hack below! I have used the following procedure to modify the label portion of all the bags to pump into them. It takes only a few seconds to modify each bag, and I’ve never had a bag fall off while pumping (and I’ve gone through around 200 bags at this point).
After I found a suitable freezing solution, I started throwing bag after bag into the freezer right after pumping. This was when things really got ridiculous. My family started referring to me as “Garelick Farms” and Will would burst out laughing anytime he opened the freezer. For perspective, these were my freezers (upstairs and downstairs) at 5 weeks postpartum. Things were getting a bit ridiculous, so I googled online for storage solutions. Some forums mentioned that the Philips Avent bags fit PERFECTLY in gallon storage bags after they are frozen. Unfortunately I had been throwing bags all over the place by this point and bags from different weeks were all mixed together. Not to mention if I took them out of the freezer they’d immediately start thawing before I could sort them.
So one day in the middle of a snowstorm I filled two laundry baskets with all the bags of frozen milk and moved them onto the porch. I spent nearly 2 hours in 12 degree weather sorting all the milk and putting it into gallon bags. Somehow I didn’t get a picture of this, but I assure you it was as ridiculous as you are imagining. The good news is that now all that milk fits neatly into my freezer downstairs, ready for Julius.
Direct Pump Philips Avent Breastmilk Storage Bag Adaptation for Medela
What you’ll need:
- Philips Avent Breastmilk storage bags
- Medela direct pump adapters (best to just buy a 20 pack of their bags which comes with two adapters!)
- You’ll want to cut along the lines shown in red on the diagram. First, cut along the line marked with the calendar icon.
- Next fold the bag in half lengthwise and cut a 1cm cut on the fold along the line marked with the smiley face.
- To pump into the bag, attach adapter to pump setup, open the bag and insert adapter into the bag. Hang bag off the tabs on the adapter by inserting through the 2cm slit.