I knew early on that I would breastfeed my children. That was a given in our family; it’s just what I was raised around. Plus formula costs so much money that I knew if I could tough it out and survive the entire year I could save our family a ton of money we didn’t want to spend.
Nursing can be rough y’all, especially when you have to head back to work and drag the dreaded pump along with you. I’m pretty sure I’ll hear that whooshing sound the rest of my life every time I walk into a closet. So today I’m sharing a few tips I’ve gathered that will help you when returning to work as a breastfeeding mother.
10 Tips for Returning to Work While Breastfeeding
1) Know the law.
Every state is different, and if you want to make sure you are getting the allotted time or even the location, you have to know this information yourself. Don’t depend on your employer to know the law or make sure the law is upheld. There are times when you have to fight for your right; this is often one of them. Kelly Mom has a great article about knowing your rights as a breastfeeding mother as well as links to state and federal laws.
2) Now that you’ve got the laws ironed out, make yourself a sign to tape to the door that says “Do Not Enter.”
Trust me when I say there’s nothing worse than when someone bursts into the room you’re pumping in simply because you assumed the door was locked. It only took having a man waltz in there once before I got a sign. I even used my nursing cover as well for a long time after that.
3) Don’t worry about washing your pump parts after every session during the day. You simply need to rinse them out and store them in a large Ziploc bag in the refrigerator between pumping sessions. The bacteria will stay at bay and save you a ton of time.
No one wants to waste their precious pumping break with washing pump parts. Just make sure you soak and wash all of your parts every evening when you get home from work.
You might often hear someone say to watch videos or look at photos of your baby to induce let-down. That’s not always necessary.
4) I found that simply following the same routine every time let my body know it was time to release milk.
Use this time to listen to podcasts or audio books. Some weeks I did my bible study, other times I just read a book. Either way, my body knew that when I plopped my rear in a chair with that breast pump and a book it was time to fill up those lovely bottles.
5) Change your pump parts regularly.
If your pump valves, and especially those flimsy membranes, aren’t helping you achieve the best suction available … then it’s time to swap them out. Make sure you keep spares on hand. There’s nothing worse then leaving the house, needing to express milk, and not having all of your pump parts.
6) Utilize breast massage to maximize pumping output.
Nothing on the market can empty a breast like a baby can so if you find your milk is flowing slowly, it’s always a great idea to use massage techniques. Some days I felt like I was milking a cow, but pressing around and a bit of massage always helped with milk flow.
7) Make sure you’re eating enough!
If you aren’t taking in enough calories, you won’t make enough milk. I hate to say it, but when you are establishing your supply or trying your hardest to make enough milk … it isn’t the time to restrict calories.
8) On the same note as calorie intake, be sure you are drinking enough water.
The average amount of water you should be drinking is half of your body weight in ounces per day. When nursing and pumping, be sure to drink an extra quart everyday. My favorite way to make sure I was drinking enough was to tote around my Camelbak bottle that holds 33 ounces. I knew I needed to drink about 3 or more of those to get as much as I needed daily.
9) If you’re having trouble pumping enough milk, be sure to maintain all of your pumping sessions. Even when baby drops a feed time.
The prime time of the day to get the most milk is actually in the middle of the night. Your Prolactin levels are actually highest at night. Meaning, it’s the time of highest milk production. As the day goes on, the amount of milk you make decreases, but the amount of fat in the milk increases. So, if you’re needing more ounces of milk to send to your sitter … try pumping between the hours of 1-3 AM. Babies age 1-6 months actually take in about 20% of their milk for the entire day during their night feeds. Hence it being such a great time to pump.
10) Last but not least, buy a hands-free pumping bra.
I remember thinking they were hysterical. After trying to hold both pump bottles in place, turn the machine on, and not spill milk … I invested in a good pumping bra. It only took trying to get the bottles to suction without holding onto them and then watching my milk fall to the floor once before I ran to my local Target to nail down a Medela pumping bra.
So there you have it ladies, my top ten tips for pumping / breastfeeding and returning to work. I’d love for you to share what worked and what didn’t work when you were pumping / breastfeeding. There’s bound to be another mother half out of her wits looking for solutions during that middle of the night pumping session as well!