Here are my breast pumping tips for moms returning to work. Going back to work can be pretty overwhelming and emotional. Hopefully, these breastfeeding tips and pumping tips will help alleviate some of the struggles. Every state has their own set of statutes and laws regarding breastfeeding and pumping. Before going back to work check out your state’s laws, and meet with your employer or H.R. to have a plan in place for when you return.
Try breastfeeding exclusively to your baby for 4 weeks. After week 4 introduce bottle feeding from dad and other family members. Since this is going to be new for your baby, try also not being in the room. This will help your baby get used to bottle feeding when you are away. Also, this is an especially great bonding experience for dad and baby. While your baby is being bottle fed, you can familiarize your body with the pump. I would recommend maybe a day or two before going back to work to try doing the feeding schedule you are going implement or as close as you can. Think of it kinda like a test run for your body and baby.
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Goals: Set a goal. Surround yourself with people who will support your goal. Remember everyone’s situation is different. Try not to compare yourself to others. Do what you think is realistic and will work for you and your baby. I never knew how hard breastfeeding was going to be until I started talking to other moms. After hearing how half of them gave up, I decide to get educated. I took a breastfeeding class(totally recommend). I read as much as I could. Then I came up with my goal.
Remember everyone’s goal is different! I wanted to breastfeed for 6 months. The first and last month were the hardest for me. The first month I was getting the hang of it and the last I will be honest… I was over it. It was exhausting, emotional, tiring, time-consuming, and required a lot of dedication. That aside, it was 100% totally worth it!
Clothing: Aside from having a bra that you can breastfeed comfortably with and pump, wearing shirts with patterns is helpful in case you leak. Patterns hide leaks or stains easier. I would also bring to work an extra shirt, just in case. I never had to change my shirt, but I was always less stressed knowing I could if needed.
Nursing Pads: The first week and a half back to work was really the only time I needed these. Pack some in your bag and wear them just in case. After the first day back I wore them until my body got used to my work routine, and no longer needed them.
Develop a breastfeeding schedule. Sticking to a schedule each day will help you let your milk down quickly. Having a picture, video or audio recording of your baby to look at while you pump, will help immensely, especially your first week back to work.
Here is a sample of my breastfeeding and pump schedule when I returned to work at 6 weeks:
Pump at 630 a.m.
Breastfeed 7:30 a.m.
Pump at work 12:00 p.m.
Breastfeed at home 6:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m. 10:00 p.m.
Pump at 11:00 p.m.
Breastfeed 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. (this time frame changed with her age and eventually the 2:00 a.m. feeding dropped off).
On the weekends I exclusively breastfeed Sofia. I felt this helped me keep my supply up.
Breast pump bag: This is where you store your double breast pump, the parts, your milk storage bags and a marker. If you have a pump that takes batteries, put them in now. I literally had to use this feature at work, because the whole building’s power went out. Huge peace of mind, having the batteries already there. Have at the office extra lids, flanges, and connectors. One of my many mommy brain moments… apparently one morning I only packed half of my pump bag!! Total genius move! I had to leave the office and race home to get the stupid valve/connector parts. After that wonderful experience, I had duplicates at work. To get a list of all the products I recommend for breastfeeding read my post on Top 10 Breastfeeding Essentials.
Insulated cooler bag: To store your breast milk. You don’t need a huge tote or bag. I had a simple square zip bag (lunch box size) with a freezer pack. Also, I had a freezer and refrigerator at my office. I would come in stick my freezer pack in the freezer and after pumping, I would lay my storage bags flat in the freezer. At the end of the day, I would grab my freezer pack and breast milk filled storage bags (I used Lansinoh® Breastmilk Storage Bags) and put them in my insulated cooler. As soon as I would get home, I would transfer them back into the freezer. They never thawed. You can also just keep it in your cooler or office fridge and then transfer to your freezer when you get home.
Routine: Having a routine makes things easier! So this was my routine at work:
As I mentioned, I would drop off my freezer pack in the freezer. Drink water throughout the day and again about 30 minutes before pumping. When it was pumping time (I used a coworker’s office); I would set up my pump, get my storage bags out, and have my phone (with videos and pictures of my daughter).
Next, before getting hooked up to the pump, I would write the date on my storage bags. I would pump while looking at videos or pictures of Sofia or catch up on social media. Mainly try to relax. When I was done breast pumping, I would write the number of ounces pumped on my bags and then I would fill them. Trying to write on filled bags of milk is not easy.
Lastly, I would pack up my stuff and bring everything into the kitchen. Do a quick rinse on my parts, put my breast milk filled bags in the freezer laying flat and re-pack my pump bag. When I pumped at home, I typically pumped in the same pump spot, I just made sure I had everything I needed before starting (bags, marker, & phone).
Since I breastfed more times then I was pumping; I used a regular nursing bra. Yes, I know a lot of moms love handsfree for pumping, for me it was just easier wearing one bra the whole day, and I didn’t mind holding the bottles.
I was able to reach my goal and breastfeed for 6 months doing these steps. You can do this too! Hopefully, you will find these breast pumping tips helpful!
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