Sunday, September 18, 2011

How I Go Green With My Pumping & Baby Bottle Routine

So in preparation to go back to work there were two things on my mind: 1- how I was going to stand being away from my baby girl for longer than 30 minutes and 2-figuring out the best bottle/pump/storage method for my breast milk.  And although number one sure was though, number two gave me quite a run for my money.  Up until then I had been exclusively breastfeeding Avery on demand...or in other words, she's hungry I feed her,  no bottles, no pumping, no nothing.  So about a month away from when Avery would be starting daycare I began my research as to find: a pump, a way to store breast milk, and a bottle that Avery would take.  Now you can probably tell from my blog that I love to research things, it's just something I've done for years and now that I'm into the green scene, I've taken my research to a whole new level.   But researching these things was different for me.  Looking into bottles, and pumping was just a reminder to me that soon I'd be away from Avery and I didn't really like that.  It was almost like it left a bad taste in my mouth.  It didn't help that the bottle market is seriously insane.  I can remember saying several profane words when I walked into that section of Babies R'Us one day. 

"Ha ha ha! This bottle thing is a joke, right?"

I put on a happy face in this picture with Avery, but inside I was screaming! There was seriously so much to choose from and to make maters worse it was nearly all PLASTIC! Cue the theme song to Jaws " du-du, du-du, du-du-du-du-du-du-DU-DU-DU!"  I'm a little plastic-phobic which you can see in this post, this post, or this post. And although most plastic on the market nowadays is BPA-free (which a great thing) I still didn't feel comfortable using it..what can I say, I'm a glass-girl! To make a long story short, I did some more  researching and was able to find what I think is a "green alternative" to the whole pumping, storage, and bottle routine and I'm excited to tell you about it. 

So here's what I use and then I'll show you how I make it all work...

First up is pumping! Great times I know. But seriously if you're a working mom and breastfeeding is a goal of yours, a high-quality electric pump is a must. When I was pregnant I got a manual pump, because I thought I would like the "natural-ness" of it...talk about greenness too! But, once Avery was born, I realized that I love to do lots of different things while breastfeeding like make calls, get some creative inspiration from Pinterest, and even blog. So to think about having to use both hands to pump while I'm at work did not sit well with me, and that's when I realized I needed a pump that was "hands free". I ended up going with this pump by Hygeia (thanks to this post by Julia), which is one of the greenest pumps around because after I'm done using it, I can return the mechanical portion of it to the company and they will reuse it with another mom or recycle it for you.. No worries, all the parts that touched or were even remotely near my milk stay with me. The pump's offical name is: Hygiea Enjoye LBI Rechargeable Battery Pump (I got the Deluxe Tote Set for $319).  Another benefit is that all parts that come in contact with the milk are BPA/DEHP free.  Sounds like it might be a good fit for you? Read more here.

Okay so that now you know which pump I use, let me break it down for you and explain the parts...because a few months ago I had no clue either! Here goes:

Here's the pump, flanges, and tubing.
Here's where you turn it on and you can control
the speed and strength as well as where the tubing connects to the pump.

The tubing connects here in the back and it is what controls
the suction...the milk does not go through these!

These are the flanges...you can probably figure out where
these bad boys go!


Now although this pump is not hands-free, I purchased an Organic PumpEase Nursing Bra ($42) that can make my pump hands free and it's been awesome. Here's a PG-rated view of it in action...

It hooks around in the front like a strapless bra...with
little slits in it.
The slits hold the flanges, then BAM!
Hands-free pumping fun!

After purchasing my pump, I wondered what was I going to do with all this milk I was pumping? Once again I was confronted with my arch nemesis....plastic! Plastic bags, plastic containers, plastic pots all for storing breast milk. Seriously, what's with all this plastic? Normally I wouldn't stress so much about something like this, but because it's my breast milk and it would be undergoing extreme temperature changes (being frozen, then thawed out, then warmed up) I was so not comfortable with plastic being in the equation. In to save the day once again was glass. This time I got creative with my storage and called on a good friend...glass mason jars. Anyone else have a slight obsession with these? I know I do! Inspired by some "breast milk storage pots" I'd seen at Babies R'Us I figured why not just use some little glass mason jars? They are about the same size, and could be used in exactly the same way? So I got some from the store...a whopping $7 for 12 jars and they have really been great! I also use large mason jars for my day-to-day breast milk storage, which you'll see later.

Little 8 oz. mason jars for storing and freezing breast milk.

My little mason jars in action...holding some frozen milk in
freezer.

Last on the research list was bottles and as you guessed it the only thing I felt comfortable with was glass.  I use glass for so many things because although it is a bit heavier and the risking of breakage is higher  than plastic, I feel like it's safer.  I can trust that no pesky chemical is going to come leaking out or I don't have to worry about the properties changing of the food inside of it if the temperature changes.  Plus, after months and even years of using it, it can still come out looking sparkly clean; not cloudy and scratched like plastic.

My favorite glass baby bottle.
Now if you look on the "green market" of bottles there are some pretty fancy, schmancy glass bottles out there, some of which cost $15-20 per bottle! Ouch. I love being green, but not that much! That's when I began to research again and I came upon some bottles that I always kept seeing on my bottle shopping expeditions, but I always brushed aside...Evenflo Classic Glass bottles.  These little bottles are simple enough, they don't have any fancy claims about mimicking the breast, or more preferred by new moms, but they are called "classic" for a reason, they've been around for 60 years! Also, I found some rocking reviews of them on Amazon.com that really encouraged me to give them a try.  Now although the company has come under fire recently in the blog world for a video they posted, I still enjoy using their affordable, simple, glass baby bottles (3 bottles for $7!). After trying these once, they worked for Avery and I loved being able to breathe easy and know that I could freeze them, warm them up, or just refrigerate them without having to worry about any chemicals leaking into the milk. 

Okay so now that you know the big players, let me tell you how I make it all work.  Sorry if this is TMI for you, but if you've read this far you must be cool with it-he he!

1.  Before I leave in the morning for work I always feed Avery one last time.  Then about an hour later after I've dropped her off at daycare, commuted to work, and got all my things put away, it's time for my first pump.

Let me welcome you to my pumping station, which is located in the bathroom in my classroom.  I feel so lucky to be able to have the convenience and privacy of this room, and although it's not all roses and butterflies...since it's a bathroom for preschoolers, I still love that I'm able to close the door and pump in privacy. 

My pumping station...in the kid
bathroom of my classroom!

Now since the door doesn't have a lock, I made this lovely little sign to hopefully give people a head's up as to what I'm doing in there. 
It reads: "STOP.  It's Avery Time! (aka...I'm pumping!)
Come back in a few minutes." Avery's quote reads: "Yep, that
milk is for me!"

2.  When it's time for this first pump, I bring in my laptop and set it all on a TV tray while I pump.  Now it's time to put on the hands-free bra, hook up the flanges, and connect it to the pump. Sometimes I'm in a rush to do this and I feel like the pit crew of a NASCAR race...how fast can I do it?
Time to check emails, pump, and get ready for the day!
The view from above during a pump.

3.  I usually set the timer on my watch so I know how long I'm pumping, and for the first pump I go for about 10 minutes.



4.  When I'm done, I pack up the pump and hands-free bra in the pumping bag that came with my pump and stow it away until I need it again.

The pumping bag.

Usually once a week I try to remember and charge up the pump, otherwise the battery will die in the middle of the pump, which has happened way too many times already!

My charging station behind the bathroom
door.

Here's the goods from my morning pump. Now it's time to transfer and store.




5.  Here I am transferring the pumped milk into my favorite thing...you guessed it a mason jar!

6.  Next I break out this handy dandy little drawstring bag my aunt sewed for me (not for this purpose, but I've found it works great!) and I put the flanges and bottles in it.


My drawstring storage bag.
Makes a great hiding place for pump parts.

I keep these parts in this bag so that everyone doesn't have to see my breast pump parts every time they open the fridge in my room.  Another note, I do not wash the flanges or bottles from the pumping after each pump.  I read that by refrigerating them, you don't have to worry about bacteria growth, which works out great because I do not have time to wash them after each pump. Instead I just wash them when I get home.
I don't see any pump parts, do you?

7.  Then it's time to teach! Fast forward 4 hours later and it's time to pump again, this time during my lunch break.  So off I go to my pumping station with my laptop and lunch. Let the multitasking begin!


Today's lunch...one of my favorites: "Cheese" Stuffed Bean Burgers" from one of my favorite bloggers, Mama Pea. These burgers rock! Alongside a baked sweet potato, some good ol' organic ketchup, and of course, a cloth napkin.

Lunch for today...yum!

8.  During this second pump at lunch, I pump for about 15-20 minutes.  It's kind of funny if you look close at the bottles because you can see one side pumped more than the other side, this is pretty typical for me.  But it doesn't really matter in the long run. It all goes to the same jar!

Milk from the lunch pumping session.

9.  Then I teach, teach, and teach some more.  If Avery was younger, I probably would pump one more time, but now that she's 4-5 months old these two pumps give me just the right amount of milk to get her through the next day.  When it's time to go home for the day, I pack up my milk and put it in the insulated bag that came with my pump that way it stays nice and cool on my drive home.

10.  Next, I drive home, pick up Avery and then head home.  I unpack all my food/dishes from the day and transfer the pumped milk from the day to the fridge

The milk has made it's way home.

11. Then it's time for my least favorite part of the day...cleaning up all the dishes, bottles, and pumping parts from the day.  But somebody's got to do it.  At least I get to put them to dry on my favorite "grass drying rack"...I love it! So green and cute.  It's official name is: Boon Inc. Grass Countertop Drying Rack in Spring Green and White ($15) which you can find here.

Least favorite part about pumping...cleaning the pump parts.

My fun, green drying rack.

12.  The next morning, I stick the jar of pumped milk from the day before in Avery's diaper bag along with one glass bottle that milk will be put in throughout the day.  So every day she gets milk from the day before (on Tuesday, she gets Monday's milk, on Wednesday, she gets Tuesday's milk, etc.), except for Monday...for this day she gets the milk I pumped Friday and kept in the fridge over the weekend.  If it's a 3-day weekend, I'll freeze the milk, otherwise it's fine in the fridge for the 2 days off.  
Can't forget to pack the milk in the diaper bag.

One glass bottle makes it's way to the diaper bag as well.

13. Then the routine repeats!

Curious how long pumped milk stays fresh? Here's the guide that taught me, and here's the cliff notes:
Room temperature: 3-6 hours
Refrigerated milk: 8 days
Just thawed refrigerator milk: 24 hours
Frozen milk: 3-6 months

One last thing about milk...how do you thaw it? This part baffled me for awhile.  I obviously knew never to microwave the breast milk, but I was confused as to how I (or Avery's sitters) would warm it up quickly and safely? I thought for sure I needed a bottle warmer, but after talking with others and experimenting, I learned that you so do not! Well, if you have a plastic bottle maybe you could try one, but here's an easy, green, and cheap way that I warm up Avery's bottle.
My easy, green "bottle warming method".
Just warm up a 1/2 cup of water in the microwave in a glass measuring cup.  Then place the milk (mine is usually always at fridge temp when it's being warmed up) in the warm water and allow it to warm to desired temperature, making sure it's not too hot or too cold.  One last thing, if I ever need to use some frozen breast milk, I thaw it out by placing it in the fridge the night before.  Usually it's thawed and ready to go the next day.

Wow...what a post. I think that wraps up everything about how I try to go green with my pumping, breast milk storage, and baby bottles.  I probably went on and on with lots of details, but when I was entering the vast world of bottles and pumps my head was literally spinning and I wanted nothing more than to find mama who was going through the same thing who I could learn from.  So I hope this helps someone out there.  Got any other pumping tricks or favorite green bottles? Post them below, we're all still learning in this...

Update: Now you know about my pumping and bottle routine for Avery when she was a baby...check out my latest post about how I continue to breastfeed and pump for her now as a toddler... "Nursing & Pumping for a Toddler"...

Nursing a 17-month-old= a whole new ball game! ( :

25 comments:

  1. I've never really had to pump in the past, but it seemed like a daunting idea. I greatly admire your commitment. I would use glass bottles if I had to, as well. I didn't think you could freeze liquid in glass; good to know! Glad things are going well with you and your baby.

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  2. I really wish that they made glass baby bottles that are optimal for nursing. (With the wide tops, like avent, tomee etc). I love the little evenflo glass bottles, and similar ones in other brands-like lifesource, but none of them have the wide nipples, they're all the little narrow pointy ones. These are fine for older babies, but for younger babies, they can cause a lot of nipple confusion. I hate that i'll have to use a plastic bottle instead of a glass one if I don't want nipple confusion :S

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  3. Jenny, I agree that pumping seemed pretty daunting in the beginning as well, but after all the research and finally giving it a try...it doesn't seem like such a big deal. It probably helps that I didn't have a choice! It makes me wish I would have enjoyed my bottle and pumping-free summer a little bit more! Those times were so simple! It's all worth it though. ( : Good to hear from you!

    Corrabelle, I so agree with you about wishing there was glass baby bottles out there that had wider nipples. After days of searching online and in stores, I was determined to start my very own line of wide-mouth glass baby bottles! Ha ha! Seriously, someone needs to. I was worried like you that the narrow pointy ones would throw my daughter off, but she took them just fine and we haven't had any problems. Granted I started the bottle at 3 months old, so I can see some concern in nipple confusion if used at an earlier age. But every baby is differnt. Best of luck in your bottle search! ( :

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  4. Hi Ashley,

    It is Wendy from PumpEase. I just wanted to drop in to thank you for the honest, thoughtful and thorough reviews of both PumpEase and my favourite pump, Hygeia. What a surprise! I also wanted to let you know that I backlinked to you from my site and my designer created a blog button for my "quilt" (you'll understand when you follow the link). Let me know if you want me to send you the button for your blog. http://www.pumpease.com/press/in-the-news

    All the best,

    Wendy

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  5. Wendy, glad you liked the review. You offer a great product for working and pumping moms. Who could beat bra that makes pumping hands-free?! Thanks for linking me on your site! ( :
    Ashley

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  6. Awesome post - I'm sharing it with all the mamas I know!

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  7. Fresh breast milk is good at room temperature for 12 hours so i never cleaned my pump parts at work nor did I refrigerate them. The antibacterial properties of breast milk die when refrigerated. so refrigerator the pump parts is not necessary. Even though its just a small amt of milk that it being refrigerated then warmed by pumping.

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  8. I'm a fellow work pumper (6 weeks strong back to work!) & I love your mason jar idea! I have a medela & usually just pump and store in bottles, but sometimes run low on storage and the bags annoy me. Great post!

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  9. We also use Evenflo bottles-love them! They even work with my pump (Avent)- no need to use the plastic ones.

    Never thought to use Mason jars as storage- awesome idea, thanks!

    Breastfed: A breastfeeding blog for the modern mama.

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  10. Gretchen,
    Glad you liked the post! I hope it will help "de-mystify" the world of pumping and bottles for other moms out there! ( :

    Julia,
    Interesting point about room temp. breast milk and whether or not to clean the pump parts. Personally I feel a little safer keeping the pump parts in the fridge, but to each their own! ( :

    Holly,
    Hey there fellow work pumper! Kudos to you for 6 weeks under your belt. That's about how long I've been going too. Isn't it funny how it just kind of becomes second-nature after a while? I was in between the Medela and Hygiea pump. Glad the Medlea is working out for you. The bags are not my friend either...he he! ( :

    Candida,
    Glad to hear you also use the Evenflo bottles. Wish I could use them on my pump! The plastic bottles it came with are already getting cloudy from use, but no glass bottle seems compatible with the flanges--grr! I even tried hooking a little mason jar onto it, no luck! By the way, I like your breastfeeding blog! ( :

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  11. OMG... Mason Jars!! Why didn't I think of that?! Such a great idea. I store everything in them... why not the moo juice? Great post. :)

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  12. Hey Ally,
    Yes, the mason jars rock! It's so funny that the "bottle/pump companies" try to convince us we need these pricey, special containers or bags for storing our milk, when really some good ol' mason jars can get the job done just as well! Glad you liked the post! ( :

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  13. Hey Ashely! Great Post. I just became a certified breastfeeding educator! (Whahoo) And learned a few tricks that might be helpful to your readers.

    1) Glass is the best at maintaining the benefits of breast milk (there are other good options but glass is best, and this isn't even specifically in regards to the bpa, just breast milk properties and what sticks to the sides of the container.)
    2) I learned that freezing breaks down the properties of breast milk eliminating the live properties pretty much completely. Much more than just refrigeration, so if you don't have to freeze it, then it's best not to. Since you have 8 days in the refrigerator using it to your advantage is great.
    3) When freezing, leave about an inch empty on top or so to leave room for expansion
    4) don't shake the pumped mik (let babysitters know), but shift it gently back and forth (breaks down breastmilk with vigorous shaking, and often the daycare or babysitters or family members are trained to shake it hard like formula because formula really does need to be shaken to help the solution dissolve.)
    5) Awesome post :) I love your sign on the door to let people know you are pumping, so cute. Kisses to Avery!!

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  14. Hey Rachel,
    Good to hear from you! That's so cool about you being a certified breastfeeding educator now. Ever since Avery was born and I began breastfeeding, I am truly convinced that breastmilk has "super powers"! ( : Thanks for the great tips as well. I can see how the freezing process would diminish some of the great properties of the milk and I'm glad I don't do it often. As I teacher, I thought I needed tons of back up supply, but really just a few jars was all I needed to get me through those first few days. Besides, the thawing process is too much of a hassle for me anyways. Good to know it's best just chillin' in the fridge. Thanks again for your tips and I hope your little man is doing good too!( :

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  15. Hi Ashley,

    I just came across your blog and specifically this post. I also use (and love!) the Hygeia EnJoye breast pump and glass Evenflo bottles. I wanted to let you know that your pump should have come with (mine did) two narrow mouth adaptors that you can screw into the flanges that adapt to fit narrow bottle openings. I just screw my Evenflo bottles onto them and I can pump directly into the glass bottles! Love your blog!

    Best,
    Andrea

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  16. Hey Andrea,
    Glad you like my blog! The Hygeia EnJoye breast pump is pretty awesome, right?! So cool to have found another Hygeia fan. I did not know that the pump came with narrow mouth adaptors. There were a few other pieces in the box, and I didn't put it together that they could possibly be used for that! I will dig the spare parts out of storage (gotta love how I already packed them away) and see if mine came with the adaptors, I hope so! Those plastic bottles I currenlty pump into drive me crazy, they are already murky and cloudy after only a few months use- grr! Thank goodness the milk is only in there for a short time. It's so good to hear from another green mama, comment anytime! Thanks again for the tip!( :
    Ashley

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  17. How early did you start pumping before you went back to work? Did you build in a pumping session in between feeding Avery? I'm a teacher, too and heading back to work in mid March when my little girl will be 3 and 1/2 months old. It all seems a bit daunting at first, but I know I'll get the hang of it. Posts like this are incredibly helpful! I'm so glad I stumbled onto your blog.

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  18. Hey Laura!
    So happy you found this post helpful. I started pumping around 3 weeks before I went back to work, I guess you could say I was procrastinating a little bit. But looking back, there was no need for me to start any earlier. I was able to build a small little "bank" of milk for when I went back to school. That's cool that you're a teacher too! ( :

    The way I worked pumping into my schedule was to pump about 30 minutes to an hour after I nursed Avery for the first time in the morning. Ex. she wakes up at 7:30, I nursed her then pumped around 8:15 or 8:30. Usually I'd just pump for 10 to 15 minutes. I find my milk production is highest in the morning, so I took advantage of that and pumped as early as I could while still makeing sure Avery had plenty. I just did one pump a day on most days.

    Ideally this would be when she went down for her first morning nap, but sometimes she would be awake too. I always felt weird pumping in front of her, I thought she would be like: "Hey! You're taking my milk!" LOL-she didn't seem to mind though.

    Another time I would pump was when I did some "trial runs" with my sitter and mother-in-law, the two people that watch her. This gave me a chance to pump without her around and see how long I was capable of going between pumps.

    In the beginning pumping seemed overwhelming to me as well because nothing beats the convienence of just nursing at home, but now that it's become so routine for me I don't mind it one bit. I'm kind of glad I do it too because I feel proud of myself for learning something new, and I can see myself continuing to breastfeed for an even longer amount of time.

    So I probably gave you way more info than you were looking for or wanted to hear, but I hope it helps you. ( :
    Ashley

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  19. I've used my hygeia to pump into a dr brown's GLASS baby bottle and I'm sure evenflo fits too! There's an orange connector that you screw into the flange and then the smaller bottle fits! It should come with some on the tops for the hygeia bottles or you can order one from hygeia.

    Love the mason jar idea but I would be worried about the glass breaking when it thaws. I've heard of that happening when people use them to freeze chicken stock.

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  20. Hey there A,
    That's so cool that you're a Hygeia fan as well, and using glass bottles...well we already have a lot in common! Had no clue about those orange connectors that screw onto the flanges, will have to try that.

    Yeah, I was a little worried about the glass breaking too, but I just make sure and only thaw it out in the fridge over night and then warm it up from there. Knock on wood, I haven't had a break yet-lol! Actually I hardly use the freezer these days as it's so much easier not to have to mess with the thawing process.
    Thanks for your comment,
    Ashley

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  21. I think this is a really helpful easy to follow posting for women who are novices to the pumping routine. I also refrigerated my pump parts between pumping sessions.

    Sadly I didn't learn about Hygeia until after I had bought my Medela pump, but the one benefit to having the Medela pump & bottles was that I found their bottles to have the same size opening as Evenflo. I was able to use my wide-base Medela nipples & screw top with my glass evenflo bottles. This was especially helpful because the Evenflo "low flow" nipples flowed a whole lot faster than the Medela ones, so I started doing this at the very beginning.

    Unfortunately since I was using a childcare center, their rules prohibited use of glass & required all bottles to be pre-measured when they were dropped off (no transferring from one central container to the bottle), but I tried to store milk in glass when I could - my husband always gave my daughter a bottle before they left the house (I left for work 2 hours before that), and that was generally a glass one.

    Good luck to you as your pumping journey continues! Mine has been over for nearly a year, but I may embark upon a new one next year.

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  22. What happens with the glass jars when you freeze them (regarding expansion)?

    I just ran out freezer bags, and Hygeia just tweeted this post. We have a TON of mason jars and I'd LOVE to switch to storing my milk in them. I'm about to start pumping a few times a week as I go back to work part time. If you freeze the glass jar, doesn't the milk expand? Obviously it works because you're doing it but I didn't even know you could freeze glass.

    I don't think we'll have to freeze often, but I am trying to get extra saved up in case of an emergency (We already had two emergencies where my DH had to feed the baby expressed milk while I was in the hospital, and both times we barely made it on what I had at the time).

    So for my day to day work pumping I will use the fridge and the glass bottles from now on!

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  23. Hey Rumsita,
    I hope newly nursing mamas find this post helpful. I know I was lost in the beginning, but now that I'm right in the thick of it, it all seems so simple. ( ;

    That stinks that you weren't able to use glass bottles with your childcare center! I wouldn't not be happy about that, but you do what you have to do for your babies! So if it meant using plastic, but in a good daycare, I'd be all for it too.
    Kudos to you for using glass when you could and best of luck to you when your pumping journey starts up again.
    Ashley ( :

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  24. Hey confessionsofahappymom,
    I was also worried about what would happen to the glass when I froze it. Would it crack? Would it expand? But luckily it hasn't done either of those things. I always make sure to leave a little room at the top when I fill it up with milk, so it can expand just a tiny bit. And as for the breaking, I just thaw it out in the fridge overnight, and it's usually ready to go in the morning, without having to worry about it breaking due to temperature changes.

    To be honest, I haven't frozen any milk since around the time I wrote this post (I think 4 months ago). It was just too much of a pain to thaw out (I would always forget). Besides I feel like the milk is much "fresher" when it just stays in the fridge, as opposed to freezing it, then thawing it. But a good freezer supply is always important, because as you said...you never know what might happen! That's great that you had a back-up supply!

    Best of luck in your pumping with the glass jars, hope it helps!
    Thanks for your comment,
    Ashley ( :

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  25. did you have any problems with colic or upset tummy with the evenflo bottles. now they have dr. browns to help how do you feel about that. thanks for the post love it :)

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