Whether you’re a mom returning to work or just looking for some pumping tips in general, you’ve come to the right place! Breastfeeding Consultant and Doula, Shelley Halloran, has given us her top 10 tips to make your pumping experience a little bit easier this time around.
1. Don’t Panic!
You don’t need a freezer full of milk to go back to work, just a day or two’s worth is fine! Mothers typically begin storing milk somewhere between 2-4 weeks before the start of work.
2. Plan Ahead
You can plan for your baby to need about 1-1.5 oz of breastmilk per hour that you are away from her.
3. The Magic Number
Explore the concept of your “magic number” and reach out for support from a lactation consultant if you need help with that. Here is a great resource to get started! https://breastfeedingusa.org/content/article/magic-number-and-long-term-milk-production
4. Breastfeed Whenever Possible
Maximize breastfeeding at the breast when you’re WITH your baby as much as possible. Breastfeed before dropping off and picking up at daycare, and make sure your baby is not consuming a large bottle right before you pick up. Keep bottle-feeding at a minimum while the baby is with a care provider, just enough to keep him/her satiated. It is the best thing you can do to maintain milk supply and keep your breastfeeding relationship with your baby secure. Babies need roughly 24-30 oz of breastmilk per 24 hours. You’re aiming for as much of that to come from you AT the breast as possible, and as little of that to come from the bottle as possible.
5. Paced Bottle Feeding
Teach your care provider to practice “paced bottle feeding” and keep bottles to 3-4 ounces maximum. Also, provide your care provider with some 1-2 oz bottles as a snack to hold the baby over to still nurse when you pick them up. Remember, keep the total bottle amount as low as possible, to keep the nursing at breast amount as high as possible. Keep in mind that it’s common for caregivers to overfeed.
6. Pump When You Can
Pump as frequently as possible during the workday. At least every 3 hours would be ideal, but whatever is possible, do.
7. Hands-On Pumping
Use “hands on pumping” techniques before/during/after pumping to maximize pump output.
8. Get Relaxed Before Pumping
Relax as much as possible during pumping. Looking at photos or videos of your baby, smelling baby’s onesie, etc., all help. Listening to relaxing music, and eating a small treat or candy just before pumping or at the start of pumping also help!
9. Pump When You Feel It’s Right!
Get creative! Some women have been known to pump in the car, use Haakaa to collect some extra milk during the early days of maternity leave from bolstering a “stash,” or have tried power pumping on certain days of the week.
10. Don’t Forget To Take Care Of Yourself
Stay well-nourished and well-hydrated. Keep snacks full of good quality protein and healthy snacks at your desk: nuts, cheese, trail mixes, nut butter with fruit, veggies, hummus. There are so many options! And keep a water bottle full at all times.
Reach out for help! So often, it just takes a little brainstorming with a lactation consultant to help you feel confident about your pumping schedule, boost your supply, add or drop pumping sessions, etc.!