Working full time and breastfeeding a baby is doable and thousands of mothers do it everyday. It can be a little stressful and overwhelming at first, but if you do your research and have enough support you can have a wonderful breastfeeding relationship with your baby.
The biggest thing you need to do when you decide you will be pumping multiple times a day is invest in a hospital grade breast pump. A popular and highly trusted breast pump is Medela. A lot of health insurance companies will cover the cost of a breast pump and/or give you a certain amount of money towards a breast pump. You can also rent breast pumps from certain hospitals and stores, but I would highly recommend investing in one since you will be using it daily and for several months and/or years.
Once you have invested in your breast pump, determining when you will return to work is important. Before you return to work you will want to begin pumping and storing breast milk, so you have some available when you return to work. This is hard, because you want to always make sure you are breastfeeding when you are with your baby, so your supply does not dwindle. For about a week before you go to work, you will want to figure out a time that you can fit in a pumping session while still breastfeeding.
- It is highly recommended to pump first thing in the morning as most women have the most milk in the morning.
- You can pump between breastfeeding, which would entail you to pump 30-60 minutes after breastfeeding or an hour before breastfeeding.
A lot of times your baby may want to feed right after you have pumped. This is okay, let them breastfeed, it will not hurt anything and if anything it will boost your supply! You will most likely need an increased supply when you return to work.
When you return to work, it may be a little frustrating at first because you may notice a decline in your breast milk production. This is normal. Make sure you are pumping every 2 to 3 hours for about 30 minutes at a time. Ideally, you want to pump whenever your baby would be eating away from you. When you return to your baby, make sure you breastfeed so your baby can help you with your supply.
We already mentioned you need a great breast pump when you return to work, but there are other necessities and other things to think of when you return to work and pump breast milk. These things include:
- A private and comfortable place to pump. A lot of women may not know this but Federal law requires that any employer who has 50 or more employees must provide a place for a nursing mother to pump breast milk. This does not include a bathroom and must have an electric outlet. Make sure you reach out to your employer and make sure you know where you will be pumping before your baby arrives or before you return back to work.
- Cleaning your hand and breast pump parts is very important. There should be a place for you to do these things. If there is not a great place for this, make sure you have enough supplies for each pumping session through out the day. At the end of the day, when you return home, you can wash your parts.
- Make sure you have discussed with and made your employer aware of how much time you need during the day to pump. Most women need about 20 to 30 minutes to pump and clean up. How often depends on how long you are away from your baby and this should include travel time. A good rule of thumb to calculate this: divide how many hours you are away from your baby by 3. You can adjust the times and frequency that you pump breast milk as you get a rhythm and discover what is best for your body and baby.
- Storing your milk is extremely important. Before you return to work figure out if there will be a place at your work to store your pumped breast milk. If there is not a good place to store your breast milk, then make sure you pack an insulated milk storage bag with freezer packs to keep your pumped milk fresh until you return home.
- Nowadays, we all have cell phones, pads, etc. to see pictures of our little ones. Having a picture of your baby while you are pumping may come in handy. Sometimes you may feel down when pumping away from your baby and a photo may help you cope.
Depending on how much you have pumped the day you are away from your baby and how much your baby has eaten while you are away, you should be able to turn around and feed the baby the breast milk you pumped the day before. If not, there are some rules to storing breast milk which include:
- Breast milk can stay fresh at room temperature for up to 6 hours. It must be away from the sun and any other source of heat.
- Breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Breast milk can be stored for 4 months in a freezer and 6 months in a deep freezer.
Returning to work and pumping breast milk can become tiring and stressful. Remember, lots of women do it daily and are highly successful. Make sure you do your research and create a plan and you will be successful!