Going Back to Work While Breastfeeding
For information on breastfeeding before returning to work, attend a breastfeeding class at Missouri Baptist, or schedule a private, individualized lactation evaluation and consultation with a lactation consultant. These private consultations are available for a nominal fee. For more information, please call our Lactation Services at (314) 996-5747.
Make sure you give yourself enough time before you return to work. Start pumping or expressing breast milk for storage to use once you return to work. Initially, pump once a day. Early pumping sessions help your body learn to "let-down" to a pump, allowing you to store milk that the care provider can feed to your baby. Many mothers find the best time to pump is in the morning when breast milk production tends to be greater.
Pump about 1 hour after you have breastfed the baby. Slowly increase to 2 to 4 pumping sessions per day but, always make sure to feed the baby first. Do not be surprised if your baby wants to breastfeed more frequently for a few days whenever you add a pumping session.
You can use a double collection kit to pump both breasts at once; however, some mothers choose to pump one breast while her baby breastfeeds at the other. This method has the benefits of double pumping, and it may interfere less with baby's breastfeeding routine. If you try this, alternate the breast being pumped as you increase the number of pumping sessions. You may still want to include a few pumping sessions using the double collection kit before you return to work.
For more information on breastfeeding before returning to work, attend a breastfeeding class at Missouri Baptist, or schedule an individualized lactation evaluation and consultation with a lactation consultant. These private consultations are available for a nominal fee. For more information, please call our Lactation Services at (314) 996-5747.
A New Routine
The first few days or weeks after you return to work may be difficult until you and your baby develop a new routine. You can expect a period of adjustment as your body and your baby respond to the change. Some mothers experience a decrease in milk production the first week they return to work due to the stress and changes in schedule. If this occurs, more frequent pumping sessions can help to increase milk production.
Continue to breastfeed your baby as often as possible when not at work. Many mothers find they maintain milk production more easily if they breastfeed before showering or getting ready for work and then breastfeed again just before leaving the baby with the care provider.
If possible, develop a pumping routine based on when the baby would normally breastfeed, especially when first returning to work. Many mothers find pumping sessions go more quickly when they are able to pump at the same time every day. You, your baby and your milk production will adjust to a new routine if you are able to pump often enough.
Most mothers prefer to pump both breasts at once with a double collection kit every 3 hours, for 10 to 15 minutes. Double pumping reduces pumping time, but frequent pumping sessions may be needed to empty the breasts for continued milk production and avoid any breast discomfort. Pumping less often does not help maintain milk production, even if pumping sessions are longer than 15 minutes. If unable to keep a regular pumping schedule at work, expressing small amounts of milk during quick bathroom breaks can help to maintain milk production better than going for longer periods without expressing any milk.
Plan to breastfeed your baby as soon as you get home every evening. Ask your care provider to try not to feed your baby 1 to 2 hours before you arrive home. It may help to call the care provider when you are ready to leave work so he or she knows when you are on your way.
You may also need to arrange your evening schedule so you can spend more time with your baby when you get home. Breastfeeding more frequently in the evenings and on weekends can help you better maintain milk production, and you and your baby will enjoy the time together after separation.
As solid foods are added to your baby's diet, you may find you do not have to pump as frequently. You may want the care provider to offer the solid foods, so your baby continues to breastfeed when with you. This may also allow you to begin gradually extending the time between pumping sessions.
For more information on breastfeeding while working, attend a breastfeeding class at Missouri Baptist. However, some expectant mothers may desire, or benefit, from a private, individualized lactation evaluation and consultation with a lactation consultant. These private consultations are available for a nominal fee. For more information, please call our Lactation Services at (314) 996-5747.