Going back to work and breastfeeding can happen! Start pumping to collect & store your breastmilk 3-4 weeks after giving birth. Do not pump more than 1-2 times a day to avoid over-stimulation of your milk production. Store your milk in collection bags made specifically for breast milk storage. Glass containers are another option. I recommend storing your milk in quantities of 2-3 oz per bag. Your baby will only need 2-3 oz for several weeks. Storing your milk in small quantities will prevent wastage. You may want to have about 20 bags. Then you can start to store your milk in quantities of 4-5 oz.
If you experience problems with pumping enough milk for your baby’s bottles, I recommend using the Medela Symphony breast pump. Many mothers have changed to a Symphony pump and been able to express enough milk to continue breastfeeding while working. I have helped many mothers fulfill their goals of expressing enough milk to continue to breastfeed for an entire year.
Begin offering a bottle to your baby at 3-4 weeks of age. Offer 1-1/2 to 2 oz of your expressed breastmilk. Pace the bottle feed by removing the bottle from your baby’s mouth after 3-4 sucks and pause for 4-5 seconds before giving the bottle back. Even a partial bottle of your breast milk every 3-5 days will most likely prevent bottle-refusal when you get ready to return to work.
An example of a typical work day:
- Either pump or breastfeed your infant prior to going to work. You choose which method works best for you.
- Using an effective breast pump while being away from your baby for 8-10 hours will enable you to only need to pump twice at work. Pumping sessions do not need to be at the same time your baby is being fed a bottle.
- You should not need to pump every 2 hours to get enough milk expressed for your baby. If using a personal pump, you may want to consider renting a Symphony pump.
- When you return home you can breastfeed right away even if your baby was recently fed a bottle. Many times babies will gladly breastfeed when offered.
- Try to breastfeed one more time after dinner, and one more time before bedtime. Dream feeding may be an option for the later feeding. This means keeping the lights dim, if possible not waking your baby fully by a diaper change, and keeping your baby calm and sleepy. Your baby may breastfeed quietly and go back to sleep easily.
- Breastfeeding when you are home after work or on days off work will continue to stimulate your milk supply and maintain an adequate volume of milk expression.
- If your baby still wakes-up during the night, you can offer the breast or your support person can offer a bottle.
- Having your baby direct breastfeed when you are at home will help you to be able to continue to express enough milk when pumping.
A routine for the continuation of breastfeeding and going back to work can be individually planned by scheduling an appointment.