This week is World Breastfeeding Week! This is a great time to celebrate what our bodily s are divinely made to do- nourish our babies! Breastfeeding is not easy though, especially when you have to return to work.
Pumping at work can feel extremely overwhelming. I spent my last few weeks on maternity leave dreading having to pump at work- it comes with so many questions. When to pump? Where to pump? How to store the milk? Will I pump enough?
To make matters worse every time some would ask me if I was going to pump my “yes” would be met with stories of how they couldn’t make it work and how they ended up giving up breastfeeding all together!
So far I have successfully been able to pump and continue nursing him. (Lord willing I will be able to continue to do so!) Here are some key ways to make sure pumping is a success!
Know your rights
First and foremost know your rights. Many states have laws that require companies to give a women the time needed to pump without any consequences. Some states even require them to provide a windowless room! Know your rights that way you aren’t made to take a cut in pay or choose between work and nourishing your baby.
Have open communication
As awkward as it may be, be upfront with your boss about the time and space needed. The clearer you are in your request the easier it will be for your boss to work with you. Be sure to ask for a room that is private if you don’t have your own office and ensure there is a way for you to store your milk.
Create a pumping bag
A pumping bag will make things so much easier! My pump comes in a back pack so I just use that. I store an insulated bottle cooler, pump cleaning wipes, extra bottles, and a few snacks in this bag. When it is time to pump I can just grab it and go!
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
I can not stress this enough. Breast milk is 80% water so how much you drink will be directly seen in your output. I try to get a minimum of 8oz of water for every time I pump. Therefore, if you are pumping every two hours during a eight hour work day then you should be drink AT LEAST 32oz of water while at work. Keep drinking up at home as well! I aim for 80oz a day.
Eat small meals throughout the day
After baby you might be tempted to cut calories in order to loose the baby weight- DONT! You need between 1,500-1,800 calories a day to support a good milk supply. These can and should be healthy calories! Plan small meals or snack every 2-3 hours. Think oatmeal, carrots and hummus, a dark leafy salad with nuts, dried fruit, and a protein. Having a steady follow of nutrition will keep your milk flowing too!
Mix in a little Goats Rue
Goats Rue is a great way to supplement your milk supply. You can read more about supplements to have a healthy supply here. I mix some in my coffee in the morning and another dose in my Mother’s Milk Tea during my lunch break.
Pumping at consistent times is crucial. Try to pump at the same time every day and give yourself about 30min per session. Lining up your pumping times with when your little one would be eating it the best way to help your body stay on schedule.
Allow time for adjustment
Pumping does not give your body the same hormonal signs as your baby does. You will likely initially pump less then what your baby is consuming- this is way I suggest having a breast milk stash in place prior to returning to work. When I first started pumping I was only getting six once’s the entire day. I started supplementing, hydrate, and eating specific foods, all of those things along with consistency hade me pumping 16oz daily in just a few weeks. You have to give yourself time to adjust, don’t think this low output means you won’t succeed. Keep at it and it will get better.
Pumping at Home
Especially during those first few weeks it is important to pump through the night and on weekends. Yes, it is a pain. Your little one is worth it. It is simply one of the many sacrifices you will make as a mother. Pumping at night and on weekends made to possible for me to supply my baby with the milk he needed during the week when my output was low. Being consistent in pumping also helps to build your supply more quickly. Just pump for several minutes on both breasts after each feeding- pump until you are no longer getting milk and then pump for a few additional minutes. This will single your body to increase its supply.
Don’t give up!
It will be hard and trust me there will be days when you don’t think it will work, but don’t give up. If your milk supply doesn’t ever reach enough to supply your baby while he is away from you don’t stop pumping! Any milk you can give him is nourishing. Don’t feel like a failure if you have to supplement with formula. If you have any concerns about breastfeeding and returning to work get in touch with a lactation consultant ASAP!
Happy World Breastfeeding Week!