Marninah Hersh, RN, IBCLC, ICCE and Chaya Lighten, MHA, RPA-C, IBCLC are certified lactation consultants at Lactation Central – Central New Jersey’s Source for Breastfeeding Support.
Before reading any further, let me first acknowledge all the breastfeeding mamas – give yourselves a BIG pat on the back – you did it! You made it this far!
As you prepare to face the next stage in your breastfeeding “career” (because yes, we all know it’s like having a second job in and of itself), we pulled together seven tips to avoid common pitfalls and help get the best results for the time and effort you dedicate to your little one.
1. Don’t Let the “Let Down” Get You Down
As you return to work, recognize that your “let down” will still happen with the pump. Changing from baby to pump or vice versa can slow down the “let-down” response and leave a mom feeling frustrated. Know that it takes TIME for your body to get adjusted – keep practicing!
2. Establish Realistic Breastfeeding Goals
If you can only provide enough expressed milk to cover half or even a quarter of baby’s feedings – know that it was TIME WELL SPENT! Each working mom is returning to a job with its unique set of challenges – whether it’s keeping a regular schedule, finding a comfortable space, etc. So remember, pumping does not need to be an “all or nothing” scenario.
3. Pump, Pump, Baby
First, find a pump you like and learn how it works. Test out the different settings to see if different modes will increase your flow. Always make sure you are well hydrated before pumping and begin with a good breast massage to help release oxytocin. “Let-downs” have a psychological component – so think about your baby! Look at a picture or call the babysitter to see what your little one is up to – this can help expedite the “let-down” process.
4. The Magic Number is 3
How often should a mom pump at work? Count the number of hours you are away from baby and divide that number by 3. If you can, try to breastfeed baby just prior to leaving for work – and then again as soon as you return home.
5. Protecting Your Supply
What’s the secret to maintaining a full milk supply while at work? Pumping frequency, not milk quantity is what matters when it comes to protecting your milk supply. Often, mothers think they can decrease their number of pumping sessions to save time and get larger volumes at each pumping session – but this is a common mistake! Don’t get discouraged by small amounts of milk.
6. Get Settled
First, Relax. Set aside 20 minutes for each pumping session (15 minutes for pumping and 5 minutes for clean-up). For moms on-the-go, consider investing in extra pump parts to eliminate the need to clean between pumping sessions and save all the washing for home. Store any pumped breastmilk in a fridge or in a small cooler bag with ice packs to maintain maximum freshness.
7. Breast Versus Bottle
When switching from breast to bottle, use a slow flow nipple to prevent over-feeding and try to draw out the length of the feed by stopping every ounce to burp the baby. This will mimic the length of time they would be spending at the breast and give their brain time to realize they are satisfied.
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