“If you’re going back to work after having your baby and are breastfeeding, you’ll want to set yourself up for success to continue breastfeeding as long as you choose, and this starts by preparing much sooner than when you actually return,” says Dr. Pfaffenbach. “Below are professional tips, as well as some advice from my personal experience from doing this four times.
1. Select a pump: The type of pump you get will probably depend on what your insurance covers, but I recommend getting a double electric pump if you’re able to. It’s the most efficient way to pump, especially once you’re at work.
2. Establish a good connection with baby: If you have any issues breastfeeding, such as a poor latch or things just aren’t clicking, reach out for help. The stimulation of breastfeeding is so important in the early days especially.
3. “Empty” breasts six times/day: Studies show that a woman needs to “empty” her breasts at least six times a day to establish a good flow and healthy supply.
4. Build supply and freezer stash: After a week or so goes by, I would suggest pumping one to two times a day in addition to feedings. This will help you maintain your supply once you do return to work and get a freezer stash built up. Your milk production will be the highest in the morning, so one of the best times to pump is after an early morning feeding, between 4:00 and 7:00 a.m. Before going to bed at night, I’d have my pumping equipment cleaned, set up and ready to go so that in the morning I could wake up, nurse and then pump.
5. Milk storage and rotation: Speaking of freezer stash, I always found it easiest to store my milk in freezer storage bags made for breast milk, from a brand such as NUK, Lasinoh, Medela, etc. I recommend dating it and freezing it flat to make the most of the space. I would always rotate the milk to use the oldest first, because as babies age your milk changes, and there’s a chance they might not drink it if too much time passes.
6. Introduce the bottle: You’ll want to give your baby at least a few bottles a week, starting 3 -4 weeks before you plan to return to work to make sure they’ll regularly take one.
7. Talk with your employer: Prior to returning to work, it’s a good idea to talk with your employer about finding a space to pump if you don’t have a private office. “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law in March 2010 mandates employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk. Provisions by employers for a place other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employer to express breast milk is also mandated.” (cdc.gov/breastfeeding/resources/guide.htm)
8. Determine consistent pumping schedule: Many moms will mimic their pumping schedule to their baby’s feeding schedule, so for most moms this equates to 2 – 3 pumping sessions in an eight hour period. I would usually pump at 10:00 and 2:00.
9. Stay well hydrated: It’s very important to stay well hydrated during the day and get at least 5 -6 hours of sleep at night to maintain your supply.
10. Create packing list: Make sure that you pack something to store your milk in, in addition to all of your pumping equipment. A good rinse of your pumping parts in between pumping sessions is fine as long as they get one actual soap and hot water cleaning each day.
Just like breastfeeding was overwhelming at first, so will adjusting to this new schedule of going back to work,” noted Dr. Pfaffenbach. “Once you do get into your work routine, there may be times where pumping seems like a hassle. But I always tried to look at it as a wonderful gift to my baby, instead of a chore. Since I worked long hours, it was something very meaningful that I was able to do for my baby each day.”
Schedule an appointment online today with Dr. Pfaffenbach for all of your family planning and OB/GYN needs in the Appleton and Neenah areas.