Returning to work when you are breastfeeding is just plain hard. The last thing you want to do is leave your baby with someone else and head out the door.
Even if you are looking forward to getting out of the house and finally having “adult” conversations and not wearing a shirt covered in spit up, returning to work can be difficult to navigate.
There are so many things to figure out:
- Where will I pump?
- How much should I pump?
- What will my pumping schedule be?
- Will my baby take a bottle?
- What if my milk supply drops?
If your feeling anxious about returning to work and being able to exclusively breastfeed, you are not alone. Lots of moms have this fear when maternity leave ends.
Don’t worry, if you are a working mom it is absolutely possible to return to work and breastfeed successfully! The following are some simple guidelines and practical tips to help make the transition easier and avoid becoming overwhelmed!
9 Tips to Successfully Return to Work When You Are Breastfeeding.
Talk with your employer
One of the best things you can do before you return to work is make sure your employer knows you plan to continue pumping for your baby.
Some of the questions you want to ask are:
- What is the policy for your employer for mothers who need to pump?
- Will there be a space available to pump that has a lock?
- Is there a sign available to prevent disruptions while pumping?
- Is there a refrigerator available to store your milk?
Let your manager know what your pumping schedule may look like. Ask if there is any reason your potential schedule might cause difficulty during your daily work flow.
Work with your co workers and manager to adjust any pumping times that may conflict with work commitments.
Create a realistic breast milk stash
I’m sure you have seen the Pinterest pins and blog posts from moms that claim they were able to pump 800 oz of milk in a few weeks.
Maybe those moms did. It doesn’t mean that you have to pump that much to be successful returning to work after your baby is born.
I thought I had to have a HUGE stash in my freezer before returning to work. I furiously pumped and breastfed in the weeks before returning to work.
Turns out I was exhausting myself for nothing.
Yes, you do need to have a decent amount of milk stored for when you return to work but not hundreds of ounces.
Here’s the thing, whatever you take out of the freezer to feed your baby while you are gone, you are going to replace by pumping at work.
Don’t stress over this!
Here is how I easily pumped enough breast milk for when I returned to work.
I used the Haaka pump once my milk came in to collect milk that leaks on the side I am not nursing on. I can easily collect 1/2 an ounce to an ounce that would otherwise be wasted.
I would save the milk collected throughout the day in a bottle in the fridge. At the end of the day I put it in a milk storage bag. That easily added up to 3-4 ounces each day.
I waited 2-3 weeks after my babies were born before pumping to create a stash of milk.
I would feed my baby first then wait an hour or so and pump. You may think you won’t have anything to pump if you feed your baby first.
Your breasts are never fully empty. you are always making milk. Plus the more you empty your breasts, the more milk you will make!
MILK MAKING TIP
Your postpartum milk making hormones are highest in the nighttime hours 11pm – 7am. I chose to pump first thing in the morning to get the most milk from a pumping session.
I also tried to add in an afternoon pumping session if I could but I wouldn’t get as much.
Pumping for a Stash Schedule:
6am – Feed baby 6pm – Feed baby
7am – Pump 9pm – Feed baby
9am – Feed baby 12am – Feed baby
12pm – Feed baby 3am – Feed baby
3pm – Feed baby
4pm – Pump
Give a bottle early
After breastfeeding has been fully established and going well, try giving your baby a bottle.
Do not do this yourself! Have Dad offer baby the bottle so your baby does not associate the bottle with you.
Your baby should associate you with breastfeeding.
Know ahead of time if your baby is going to have a problem taking the bottle. You don’t want to find this out the week before you are supposed to return to work.
If your baby does have a problem, you want to have time to try different bottles and have time to figure out what will work.
Invest in a quality breast pump
A good breast pump is worth it’s weight in gold. You need a double electric breast pump, hospital grade if possible.
Most insurances are providing moms with excellent options for breast pumps free of charge or for low cost. make sure you reach out during your pregnancy sign up to get one.
You could also try a hands free option like supply drops.
If you are not removing enough milk from your breasts your body thinks your not using it and do not need it. If that happens often enough, your body will not make as much milk.
You have to make pumping a priority. No one will care about your breast milk more than you do. (except your baby)
Create a plan and stick to it. Set alarms on your phone if you have to. There will be times you will have to readjust but commit to making pumping a priority.
Nutrition and Hydration
You may get busy when you get back to work and forget to eat the extra calories needed for breast milk production or not have time to drink as much as you need to stay hydrated.
Make sure you pack pumping snacks so you can keep up with those extra calories during the day.
Remember breastfeeding moms need an additional 500 calories to keep up with milk production.
Take a large water bottle that so you can see exactly how much you have drank. I love this water bottle, it will help you stay motivated to keep drinking all throughout the day!
Wear nursing friendly clothes
You want to feel great on your first day back to the office. Everything is going great until you close your office door to pump.
All of a sudden you realize that cute spring dress that zips up the back was a terrible choice. How are you going to pump in that dress?!?
Take some time to plan out your wardrobe before returning to work. Make sure you have several outfits that are nursing friendly to make it easier for you when you go back.
You can always use a nursing cover if the top/dress you are wearing isn’t nursing friendly if that’s more comfortable.
Pack a pumping bag
Create a pumping bag to have all your supplies ready to go in one place.
Some things you want to include:
- Your pump (duh)
- Breast milk storage bags
- Gallon ziplock bag for storage of pump parts during the day.
- Hands free pumping bra
- Extra batteries (if pump dies)
- Manual pump in case of emergency
- Nursing Pads
- Nursing Cover
- Cleaning wipes
Take an pumping prep class (online)
Are you still super stressed about going back to work and pumping?
Do you worry your supply is going to drop?
The Ultimate Back to Work Pumping Class is designed to help you navigate the transition back to work and have you pumping like a pro in no time!
For only $19 there are 13 easy to watch videos plus a BONUS e-book full of the best pro pumping tips straight from pumping moms who have been there before!
Try it today! I wish I had this course before I went back to work with my babies. I could have avoided so much anxiety and unneeded worry.
Grab it today! At $19 you really can’t beat this deal, you won’t regret it.
Don’t worry it will take some time to figure out how this whole thing will work. However I believe if you follow these simple tips you will be able to return to work and breastfeed successfully!