You’ll have to forgive me, but I have to do another public service post. I have found some great stuff that must be shared in regards to keeping up with breastfeeding when you go back to work. I have talked to my midwife, a lactation consultant and our pediatrician and have gotten a great framework on what to do. I love using this medium to help other moms out there where I can, so here goes.
Ladies, I had three months off for maternity leave, so what I am doing is based on that timetable. I had my son, and had about two months of getting a great start at breastfeeding. We had it down to a science. Now I am doing the following:
When you spend 8-10 hours a day away from your baby, your milk supply will decrease. There is something about the pheromones when you and your baby are around each other that plays into your milk supply. For some lucky moms, this won’t happen. For the vast majority of us, you need to plan on reaching a day when you will not make enough for your baby, and may need to supplement with formula. Knowing this, you can plan ahead and pump well before you go back to work, so when your supply takes a hit, you have reserves in your freezer ready to go so you can keep them on breast milk longer.
Getting Mom Ready:
- A month (or a month in a half if you want a really great start) begin pumping.
- Pump an ounce out of each breast a day at first.
- Gradually build up to pumping a maximum of 4 ounces a day out of each breast. Don’t rush it – give your body time to build up to this.
- Pump right after feeding your baby. (Not after every feeding. Build up to pumping 3 times a day. Again, don’t rush it. Give your body time to adjust to this volume.)
- Try to do it when you have more milk. If you are feeling engorged, feed the baby, then pump.
- Never pump at night.
- There are some great supplements out there to help build your milk supply. There is a company called “Motherlove” that makes some of the best around. My midwife told me to get one of their “More Milk” blends that has “Goat’s Rue” in it. Their “More Milk Special Blend” is the perfect one, but they are all good. Use the Store Locator link to find where you can buy this near you.
- Omega 3 supplements (fish oil, flaxseed oil) are also really great to take to boost your supply. These can be found at your grocery store. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water.
- Important! If you get plugged ducts, fever, chills, mastitis, stop pumping until you heal up and are feeling 100% again. You are doing too much. I had luck with acupuncture to get myself under control again quickly so I could resume this regimen.
- Use the “Letdown” button – Some pumps have a “letdown” button. Check your owner’s manual to see if you have this feature. I have a Medela Freestyle, and the button is located here:
When you pump, if you see your breast begin to stream milk out (as opposed to drops of milk coming out) hit the letdown button. Leave it this way for the rest of your pumping session. This helps the pump to be much more efficient at getting the milk out. It will do longer pulls on your breast, rather than shorter ones.
- If one breast is having a good letdown (milk is streaming out of your breast rather than dripping out) and the other one is just dripping, use this technique to get more milk out of the slower breast. Massage from the very top of your breast down until you find a pocket where when you push on it, milk comes streaming out of the slow breast. Hold it there until it shops spraying out so hard (like, stop massaging - just press in on that spot). It helps you get more milk out in less time. You may need to hold it for a full couple of minutes until you fully drain that cell of milk out.
Getting Baby Ready:
- The very best bottles for breastfed fed babies are the Breastfiow bottles made by First Years
- Start giving baby a bottle a day. A great time to do this is to have dad give a bottle in the middle of the night so you can get a break and catch up on sleep!
- Start with giving baby 1oz, then finish the feeding with breastfeeding. Build up from there. Check with your pediatrician for what’s normal and healthy, but my son takes 4 oz. a feeding usually.
- If he is a natural at taking a bottle, just do a bottle every few days. Save your milk!
When you are back at work:
- Ease back into work if you can. Work half days, do flex time, or go see him at lunch to feed him for as long as you can. They begin taking cereal in their bottles at 4-6 months old. The closest you can get to this age with breastfeeding, the better. Remember, the more time you spend away from your baby, the greater the chance of your milk supply decreasing, so do what you can to spend as much time as possible with your baby!
- By law, your employer has to provide you with a place to pump and time to do it. Don’t be afraid to insist that they honor this.
- When you pump have pictures of your baby around, something that smells like him, MP3 recording of his noises or anything else that would help you connect with your baby at a distance. The biggest thing is to relax as much as possible. This may be hard, feeding self conscious being naked at work, the anxiety around taking time from your busy day to pump, etc. Try to look at it as some quiet time to yourself to relax. Bring a good book with you. Put a sign on the door so that you feel comfortable that you won’t be disturbed.
- Whenever you are home with the baby, you feed him through regular breastfeeding. Everyone else gives him bottles when you are not around. When you breastfeed, it will stimulate your supply.
- If you have to start adding in formula, do it gradually. Start with giving an ounce or two a day and build up from there. Watch for gas and dirty diapers for clues that he’s having a hard time with the change and adjust as needed. Never change your baby’s diet all at once.