Breastfeeding is tough! Breastfeeding and being a working mom comes with a new set of challenges. I am not an expert, but I am just speaking from personal experience and what worked well for me. These are my best breastfeeding tips for working moms. From the beginning, I struggled with my supply and ended up having to supplement with formula for the first couple of months. I worked really hard to build my supply by pumping the one side while feeding my son on the other. I also pumped once during the night to increase my supply. After a couple of months, we were able to shift towards exclusively breastfeeding after that. I went back to work when my son was 2 months old and pumped for about 10 months, until my son was one. I never had an excess supply of pumped milk, but I did have a few days always stocked up.
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1. Learn how to use your pump
Learn your pump and how to assemble and clean it and also learn the settings. The speed and power level matter. It is not a bad idea to start pumping a few weeks before you go back to work to learn how to use your pump and to build a stash.
2. Build a freezer supply of milk
Start building a freezer supply of milk at least a few weeks before you go back to work. I had issues with my supply and had to supplement with formula for a little while, so I started building a freezer supply much earlier.
3. Find a bottle that baby likes
Some babies won’t use certain bottles or struggle to take a bottle. It’s best to find a bottle and routine that works well before going back to work.
4. Create a system for storing milk
Create a system for storing milk in the freezer. I never had an abundance of pumped milk, so what worked well for me was to have a gallon ziplock bag. The newer milk was put at the back of the bag ensuring I used the older milk first. If you are able to pump more, you may have to find a different system to store milk that ensures you use the older milk first.
5. Label your milk
Label your freezer bags with the date and the amount of milk. This will make it easier later on as it is important to make sure you are using the milk from oldest to newest. I tried a few different freezer bags and Medela storage bags were my favorite.
6. Find a pumping routine.
Try to pump close to the same time every day during your work day. Pumping at the same time helps signal to your body that it needs to produce more milk at that time and will help you pump more each session.
7. Stay hydrated and snack
Make sure to drink enough water and be sure you are eating snacks while pumping to compensate the calories you are burning. I always brought a water bottle and packed a snack in with my pumping things just so I didn’t forget.
8. Store your pump pieces in the refrigerator after pumping
Most days I was able to pump 2 times: once in the morning and once during lunch. After pumping, I would rinse parts of the pump that came in contact with milk, and put them in the fridge. It was a time saver to not have to fully wash the pieces after each pump. I would wash them with soap when I got home at the end of the day.
9. Consider purchasing extra pump parts and bottles
I had 2 sets of breast shields and connectors and many bottles. I was able to wash the set I used that day when I got home from work, and pack my other set right away for the next day. I didn’t have to wait for the pieces to dry and risk forgetting them. It was also nice to have enough bottles to store milk in the refrigerator that I planned on using and still have some to use with my pump.
10. Replace damaged pieces right away.
If you notice anything off about your pump or it’s not working as effectively as it should, see if a piece is broken. Check that the membranes on the valves fit nice and snug. This keeps your pump working in top condition and helps you get the most milk when pumping.
Did you choose to pump at work? What did you find challenging? Do you have any breastfeeding tips for working moms?
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