Pumping on the Job

Many moms end breastfeeding sooner than they would like because they fear they’ll hit obstacles when returning to work. But with some planning and a few good tips, you can combine both.

A few tips…

1. Don’t stress about pumping and introducing a bottle right away after birth. Give yourself and baby time to get your day to day routine figured out. This not only includes getting breastfeeding started up, but also things like when you’ll usually shower and eat. Once you know what your day is like, then throw in learning to pump and give bottles. For most families this takes at least a few weeks.  You’ve got time before you go back…see point 2.

2.  Start getting to know your pump and offering a bottle about two weeks before you go back. Take it slow – try to pump a little just once a day after a feeding. You may not get much with each pumping session (you’re just taking out what baby has left after feeding.) But freeze these small amounts anyway. You really just need enough for a few bottles stocked away. If you have more that’s great, but don’t sacrifice sleeping, eating, or general sanity trying to stock the freezer.

3.  Go back on a Wednesday or Thursday if you can. This gives you a few days to try out your plan and the weekend to rethink and tweak it if you need to.

4. Pump one day ahead:  What you pump on Monday, you’ll leave for baby on Tuesday.  What you pump on Tuesday, you leave for baby on Wednesday.  What you pump on Friday, you leave for baby on Monday, etc.

5. Buy an extra set of pump parts and some gallon ziploc bags.  Most moms with a typical 8 hour day  pump twice a day:  mid morning and mid afternoon.  This leaves your lunch free to actually eat and have adult conversation.  An extra set of parts lets you avoid spending time at work for assembly and washing.  Each evening before, or in the morning, assemble four bottles with flange assemblies.  At the first pumping session, all you have to do is plug the pump tubes on the first set of bottles and go!  When you’re done, just take off the flange assemblies, and put them in a gallon ziploc bag.  Cap off the bottles and put them in your freezer bag.  At the mid afternoon session, do it again with the second set of bottles.  At the end of the day you’ll take home four partially filled bottles and a bag of parts to be cleaned at home, saving time at work. (If you have a longer shift or a long commute, you may need to pump 3 times.  If that’s the case, get three sets of parts and use the same trick.)

6.  To get more milk try hands on pumping. This method of pumping and massage with some hand expression has been shown to help moms get up to 50% more.  You may not see that much of an incease, but it still may be worth it.

7.  Talk to your child care provider about paced feeding.  This method of bottle feeding can help baby stop when he’s full.   Also, make sure your child care provider is aware or your baby’s signs of hunger and fullness so they can use other ways of soothing baby when he’s fussy but not hungry. This avoids over feeding and the subsequent pressure for you to provide more and more milk.

8. Get help making a plan! Consults, whether in the office or in your home, don’t have to be about early breastfeeding problems. We can sit down with you and the pump, help you get started and make a return to work plan.

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