You just figured out breastfeeding, and now you have to go back to work and figure out pumping. To top it off, you have to pump in-between feedings or late at night or early in the morning just to get enough milk to feed your baby on your first day at work. I know, I have been there! It is all very overwhelming. You are missing your baby and readjusting to work life; it is hard.
That’s where I hope I can help you with a few tips from my personal experiences and a summary of a few of the best web resources I found.
1. Do not stress.
This is the most important thing I can tell you. Breastfeeding is hard. Pumping enough milk for your baby is hard. It does not come easy for most of us. You can do this!
2. It is OKAY if you have to supplement with formula.
Quit beating yourself up over it. I am a huge advocate of breastfeeding. That being said, I am an even bigger advocate of a healthy momma. “If momma ain’t happy, aint nobody happy.” I had to tell myself this very thing with my first child. We did great for the first six of seven months. Then I started struggling; I just could not pump enough milk to keep up with how much my baby girl needed. I was so stubborn and stressed about making sure she only received breast milk, I brought myself (and probably my husband) to tears. I was so convinced that my milk was the only way my child would thrive. Finally at about nine months, I could not do it any longer. So…we had to supplement with formula. I still exclusively breastfed when I was with my baby, but she did get formula mixed with breast milk while at daycare. Turns out she was okay; her health did not decline, in fact, everybody was better off, because the stress level in our household greatly decreased. It will not be the end of the world if you end up having to supplement with formula. You have to take care of yourself before you can adequately take care of anybody else.
3. Pump as often as possible, and preferably around the same time that you would nurse your baby.
I try to pump every three to four hours. Again, it is what you can do. Anytime is better than no time.
4. Try to nurse your baby before you leave and as soon as you get home.
Again, it is what works for you. I already have to wake up at 5am so unless my baby is awake, I don’t wake up any earlier. I am not a morning person.
5. Having a picture of your little one may help increase your milk supply.
That’s not a hard one to follow with our smart phones and well who wouldn’t want to look at your little one?
6. Try listening to relaxing music.
This has been shown to help increase your milk supply. It never hurts to try!
7. Follow a set routine, same time, same place, same chair.
Doing the same thing each time will help trigger your letdown reflex (the release of your milk, aka that warming or tingling sensation you feel while breastfeeding).
Again, this has been shown to help with your letdown reflex.
9. In the words of Doc McStuffins (can you tell I have a preschooler!), “Water, Water, Drink More Water Than You Think!”
You have to hydrate yourself in order to hydrate your baby!
10. Know what your baby is doing.
I try to text my daycare provider for a picture or update while I’m pumping.
Try visualizing flowing streams, waterfalls, whatever floats your boat. 🙂
12. Check your pump.
Sometimes the hardest problems are solved by the simplest or most obvious solutions. Maybe you just need a new pump. Maybe you just need to try a different pump or replace some older parts.
13. Double pump.
Not only may it help with increasing your milk supply, it is so much more convenient. You could even use two manual pumps if you choose.
14. Wear a two-piece outfit.
I find that if I wear a nursing tank underneath my shirt, I am able to pump hands-free (think of all that time to check your social feeds, read, or my personal favorite, eat!). There are special bras for hands-free pumping. Any baby store would probably stock these.
15. Don’t smoke.
Amongst all the other problems smoking causes, it can reduce your milk supply.
16. Finally: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states the following: “Employers are required to provide ‘reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year afer the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk’. Employers are also required to provide ‘a place other than a bathroom that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”