ASK THE EXPERT: Breastfeeding and Returning to Work

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Q: I am stressed about the schedule and figuring out when to pump when I am back at work

A: I know this is sometimes what stresses moms out the most and I get it! It can seem very overwhelming but once you actually start and get the hang of it, I promise it’s not terribly complicated. The general rule of thumb is to pump at work every time baby is having a bottle at home/daycare. Typically that is every 2-4 hours. If your baby typically has a bottle at 9:30, try and pump generally around the same time but don’t stress if it’s not exact (i.e., your meeting didn’t end until 10:30). The most important piece is removing milk as many times a day as your baby is having a bottle at home. You will likely be able to nurse in the morning and evening, so usually only talking about pumping 3 times a day on average.

Q: How do I reduce pumping when I cut back on breastfeeding. Do you reduce the time you pump, go longer in between pumping sessions, or some combo of both?

A: You have two ways to tackle this!

Option 1: to eliminate a pumping session: you can decrease the number of minutes you spend pumping by 3 minutes every 3 days until you are eventually down to less than 3 minutes; then it is time to eliminate completely or

Option 2: you gradually lengthen the amount of time between sessions - letting your comfort be your guide when it comes to the exact duration. This will gradually decrease the number of pumping sessions each day. For example, if you normally pump every 3 hours, try pumping every 3.5 hours on days 1-3, every 4 hours on days 4-6, etc

Q: What do I need to have/purchase before I go back to work in terms of breastfeeding?

A: Here is my list!

 Bottles for home

 Double electric breast pump

 Battery operated adapter in case a plug is not nearby

 Nursing cover and a pumping bra

 Pump parts (and don’t forget to screw the pumping bottles in before you begin. I had one pumping session in the car that lasted a good 5 minutes before I realized I forgot to screw the bottles in and therefore pumped all over my lap!)

 Cooler bag and ice packs to store the milk. HERE is a cute option!

 Breast pump cleaning wipes to make clean up quick and easy

 A sense of humor and some patience :)

Have more questions for Vanessa?

Visit the Graceful Beginning's website HERE to learn more about the sleep and lactation support they offer and schedule your free 15-minute consultation.

You can also meet Vanessa and ask her your infant sleep and feeding questions in person at our New Parent Meet-up in Tenleytown on 6/12. Sign-up HERE.