Pump it up!
If you are lucky and have a job with actual maternity leave, one of the most difficult things to do is to prepare to go back to work and figure out your new life and new schedule. If you have been breastfeeding and want to continue, you will need to prepare to become best friends with your pump. If you are planning on doing formula during the day, then feel free to skip to the bottom of the article. Honestly, I pumped because I felt I had to do so and felt guilty supplementing. It was a self guilt and no one every told me I had to do so. If I could go back. I'd encourage myself not to pump so long. At the end of the day you do what is best for you. Below are some tips and tricks for those of you mamas who want to give pumping a try!
Before you go back to work:
1. Start pumping on a regular basis, even if just once a day. I tried to pump at night before I went to bed (8:30/9-ish), especially because around 3 months, George was sleeping longer stretches- note that did not last! Just look at it as practice before you get back to work, don’t focus too much on supply. Trust me there were nights I would pump 2 ounces total...actually many nights! I found I needed 2 hours after his last feed to produce anything.
2. Figure out a good diet at work. I tend to run around and not eat, which impacted my supply. As much as you can, try to prepare plenty of snacks and of course continuous water supply. These cookies were a go to for me, especially if my supply got low: https://theoptimistkitchen.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/healthy-oatmeal-raisin-cookies-dairy-free-2/
3. Give yourself some flexibility. It took me the first few weeks back to figure out our whole new routine of pumping, working and George at daycare. Once you get into a routine, pumping should become efficient...but if it isn’t working, then start looking at supplementing.
Pumping advice at work: https://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/bf-links-pumping/
Make sure you buy a pumping bra that is comfortable and that you like. I used this one. I recommend ordering 3 - 4, especially if you plan to pump at work and home.
Pump parts and bottles:
I bought at least 3 sets of pump parts (flanges, nozzles, etc) - one for every pump session, so you don’t have to clean after each use. I did clean them eventually at work and used a sanitizing bag or I took them home to boil them. It is a pain, but necessary.
I was lucky to get a hand me down which I used at home and brought my new pump (thanks, Obama!) to work so I didn’t have to carry it back and forth.
Pump Bag: You may already have one, but if not, get one! I used a reusable grocery bag for awhile and it was sad. The pump bag is also great for traveling because you can actually open up a flap and access the pump without pulling it all the way out. I pumped on the flight to Vegas while the people slept next to me...sneaky!
Bottles and freezer bags: I assume you already have this down, but one thing I did sometimes was transfer milk to freezer bags at work so I could reuse the bottles.. Buy a crap ton of bottles, because you will need them.
These wipes are also nifty for traveling or quick cleaning.
Depending on your commute, I recommend getting a cooler. You can leave breastmilk out but because I was paranoid, I always put it in the fridge.
When it is time to get down to business, I would shut my door (I was lucky to have an office) or if I was out at a meeting, I would just bring my pump bag...anyway, I always brought a nursing cover with me because it made me feel more comfortable and that is key!
Steam bags are super convenient. Funny story, we didn’t have a microwave until George was like 5 months old, I think? Anyway, we had a huge pot we left on the stove at night so I could fill up with water and sterlize my parts and George’s bottles. I started bringing extra pump parts and my own dishwashing soap to work. I would wash my parts at the end of the day and then pop them in the microwave, leaving me with clean parts and no need to bring them home, every night.
Setting a schedule:
I followed the every time I was to feed George, I pumped and actually even sooner. I pumped every 3 hours, at least, to get in 3 pump sessions at work. I breastfed in him the morning and then pumped the following:
7/7:30-ish AM: Last nursing session before work
10 AM - Pump (10 - 12 minutes) *If you are trying to boost your supply, you can add a few minutes on to each pump
1 PM - Pump (10 - 12 minutes)
3:30 - 4 PM (10 - 12 minutes): Last pump of the day no later than 4 PM because I usually nursed George right when I got home and right before bed. My evening supply went first. I kept it up some by pumping, but eventually I went to formula.
Honestly, I would pump 3.5 - 4 ounces per boob at first and then it eventually dwindled. Some women have better luck, but without George actually there, it was hard for me to keep up. I believe his bottles were around 3 - 4 ounces per feeding, before he started solids at 6 months. I started supplementing at 7 or 8 months with formula - read more below.
You will want to find a good rhythm and be relaxed. Because I had an office with a door, I would just prepare to pump, and work while I was pumping. I was lucky to be in a supportive environment. Our Grad Assistant who had an office next to me was also pumping, so we traded tips and it made it less awkward.
Ok - if you have read all of that and you are like hell no! That sounds awful or my job is not flexible enough to keep up pumping, then you should totally not feel guilty about formula at all! A lot of women just nurse in the morning and night and don’t pump during the day. Your boobs are magical and will adjust...at least that is what I have been told. You’d need to start supplementing and slowing wean off those feeds, but it would happen. Below is a photo of my son when he came home from daycare with his first official stomach bug, which would be the end of our breastfeeding relationship. I got it too and my supply officially dried up. The second photo is of me and my son (who was exclusively formula fed at that point) and we are both very happy...I assure you.
HiPP and Baby’s Only Organic - Doug was and still is a nut about what things are made of that George is using or consuming. He did super research on formula and landed on HiPP Formula. Of course, it isn’t made in the US and it isn’t cheap, but George liked it and had no issues with it. The other formula we bought but never used was Baby’s Only Organic. One of the articles he referenced you can read here… if you are so inclined.
For me, we started off with one bottle of formula at daycare, and I still kept that pumping session at work for about a month. I really had no stash, as I had used most of it when I went to Vegas and had a hard time replenishing it since I was already at work. Then we gradually moved to nursing in the morning, all formula at daycare, and breastmilk at night. Finally, I dropped the nighttime feeding and after a stomach bug, I lost my morning feeding. Alert, if you are still pumping, then you have to wean off of pumping, which took my 2 - 3 weeks. And FINALLY after 10 months, I had my boobs back - hooray!!