Many moms know they have to return to work within months of having their baby, but they also want to continue breastfeeding to give their baby the best nutrition. So how do you successfully switch between pumping and nursing once you’re headed back to work?
Here are some recommendations from Hawaii Mother’s Milk, Inc.’s certified lactation consultant, Victoria Roselli.
What’s the best time of the day to pump?
The best time to pump is when you’re rested. If you’re tired or stressed, your milk production can decrease. Start pumping in the morning. Feed baby and pump an hour after resting. Repeat in the afternoon to produce more milk. Following this schedule consistently can increase your supply.
Skin-to-skin contact stimulates relaxation hormones and increases your milk production. Incorporate 15 to 30 minutes of skin-to-skin before feeding or pumping lets you enjoy bonding time with your baby and get the rest you need to maintain your supply.
To determine how much your body is producing, you can pump before feeding. This stimulation can increase your milk supply.
What if I’m not producing enough milk while pumping?
Since pumping doesn’t produce the natural emotions, bonding, and touch of your baby, it may cause your milk supply to decrease. As you pump, imagine the breast pump as your baby latched to your breast. Imagine the sight, scent, and warmth of your baby.
Replicate your normal breastfeeding environment as much as possible. Having the blanket that you use during feeding may help. Listen to soothing music, use a warm compress, and gently massage yourself while pumping. Try your best to get comfortable and relax.
What if baby refuses the bottle?
Let someone else feed her. Using one prepared bottle of breast milk daily helps train her to feed from the bottle and get comfortable with another caretaker. Start this process after the first month to make the adjustment easier.
Victoria Roselli with moms Sumoha Min and JoSoon Seuk and their babies at Hawaii Mother's Milk, Inc.'s BreastFriend Hour
When should I start pumping to establish a milk supply before I go back to work?
If your baby’s at least four weeks old and you’ve been successfully breastfeeding, start pumping three to four weeks before returning to work. Single pump (one breast) first. Once you’re comfortable, double pump (both breasts) to save time.
Check the flange or breast shield that attaches to your breast to make sure it’s comfortable. One that’s tight or too big can affect your supply.
What’s my employer required to offer women who pump at work?
Employers are required to provide a private space for you to pump. Talk with your employer about your expectations prior to returning to work.
How do I store pumped breast milk and how long does it last?
At work, label and date your milk in an insulated cooler bag. At home, as long as your baby’s healthy and full-term, follow the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Need support with breastfeeding, or want to learn more? Call Hawaii Mothers’ Milk at 949-1723 to set up an appointment for a free consultation or visit us at www.HIMothersMilk.org for more information.