Thursday, April 24, 2014

six SIMPLE tips for pumping at work

Warning: this post is girly in nature. Men, you may not want to read it.

And if you read it and are weirded out, you can't say I didn't warn you.

My breastfeeding journey started out rough. We struggled through the first few weeks, sorta kinda got the hang of it by week six, and seemed to get in a good grove after that growth spurt.

Just in time for me to go back to work...

dun dun duuuuuuuuun

I was absolutely terrified to go back. There were so many uncertainties and so much pressure. Would I be able to pump enough? Would Reuben still want to nurse after getting a couple of bottles a day? Would my supply totally go down the drain?

It was scary!

But it has a happy ending :)

Everything's worked out better than I ever could've imagined. There was no nipple confusion, no irreversible supply drops, and he always had plenty to drink.

I know it doesn't always go so well for others and I know I'm not an expert at it by any means, but I figured since it's gone so well and I've learned so much, I'd share a few quick tips I learned along the way.

1. Be aware of the recommended number of ounces to leave with your baby.

I've heard of moms saying their babies need 6-7 oz a feeding and they're just not making that much so they have to supplement with formula. If I learned anything, it's that young babies will take just about anything you give them in a bottle, especially if the bottle has a fast flow. With breastfeeding, babies have to suck to get milk and they take a break when they swallow. In bottles, when a baby swallows, more milk is sucked in and it creates a cycle that ends with them taking everything in the bottle because they don't know how to stop it. Breastfed babies only need 1-1.5 ounces for every hour they're away from you. has a great calculator to help you figure out their needs.

2. Have a set time of the day to pump.

Breastmilk production thrives on schedules. You'll be a lot more successful if there are set times in the day you pump so your body knows it needs x amount of ounces by x time. On days my pumping schedule got off, I noticed a difference in how much I would pump.

3. Build up a stash before going back.

I'm not talking like 300 ounces or anything. Maybe just a "week's worth" of milk as a cushion. I liked not having the pressure of pumping 8 ounces every single day. If I only pumped 6 or 7, I could grab a bag from the freezer and send that instead. It takes a lot of the stress out of the equation.

4. Hit the "let down" button multiple times.

I have a pretty quick and strong let down, so I don't wait for the standard 2 minutes it takes to automatically switch to the longer setting.  As soon as I feel the let down, I press the button and as soon as I can see the milk has stopped coming out, I press it again. and again. and again. and will try and get as many let downs as possible. That way you can be much more efficient with your time since we all know breaks don't last forever!

5. Have a second (or third) set of accessories.

I, personally, think you can never have too many sets of pumping gear. I only have two, but I wish I had more like three or four! I hate washing the stuff SO much and dread it. Also, if you're pumping multiple times at work in a day, remember that breastmilk can stay out at room temp for 6 hours. So if you're pumping closer together than that, don't worry about washing them in between! If you're a nurse or have another sort of 12 hour shift job, put them in a grocery bag and stick them in the fridge in between so you don't have to wash them! Can you tell I hate washing them? haha

6. Remember... there is an end to it.

Pumping every three hours at work is SUCH a drag. Telling people why you're going into a room with the door locked will never not be awkward. Finding a place to store the milk without people seeing it and being totally weirded out is always a challenge. But it ends! It's not forever! And when you get to the end, you'll be able to look back at your accomplishment and know you did every single thing possible you could to give your baby the very best.

Have any other questions? Want to know anything else? 

Let me know!

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