I consider myself very fortunate in that I experienced an awesome breastfeeding experience with Emmalyne and nursed her until she weaned at 13 months. However, my experience with Em was very different than what I was heading into with Bryn. As you guys know, with the Emster I was a stay-at-home mom and got to nurse her throughout the day. The only time I had to pump was if I wanted to have some on hand to head out of the house. When I was pregnant with Bryn I found out I was accepted to PA school and realized I would be starting my program when she was 5 weeks ago. Cue panic. I had a thousand thoughts racing through my head … would I be able to pump? Would I be able to pump enough? Would Bryn struggle switching between the breast and the bottle?
Luckily all of my fears were unfounded and I am happy to report that we are heading into our 8th month of pumping and breastfeeding and everything is going great! I wrote a Q&A post on my thoughts on breastfeeding and I’ve been promising a post on pumping for awhile so here it is. My tips for pumping at work. (I consider myself a full-time working mom since PA school IS a full-time job to me).
1. Introduce a bottle early on.
I know this goes against everything many breastfeeding advocates say but hear me out. When your baby is nursing 10-12 times a day the first month I personally don’t feel like 1 bottle a day or every other day is going to cause nipple confusion. I have however heard many of my friends say they waited too long to introduce a bottle and then their baby refused it. This is definitely a personal choice but this has worked for us with both girls.
2. Stay hydrated
Many times when you are working full-time you are busy, busy, busy. Making sure you take time to hydrate is essential for your breastmilk supply. I aim to drink ~3L of water a day. More if it’s really hot or I exercise. I pump 6-8oz per nursing session which is a cup of water by itself. My body also needs water so I have to make sure there is adequate supply for both me and my milk supply.
3. Eat Enough
This goes with #2. When you’re busy you sometimes forget to eat. I make sure to have a snack every 2 hours. I try to eat mostly healthy foods and keep a good supply of healthy fats in my diet. Breastfeeding and producing milk can burn 300-500 calories a day so you definitely need to make sure you are providing the fuel your body needs to produce milk. This is one of the reasons I counted calories after having Em.
4. Stay consistent with your pumping times
I pump every 3-4 hours during the day at school which amounts to 2 pumping sessions. My program was incredibly helpful in helping me find a discrete and private place to pump. There are laws to protect you as a working mom too so make sure you know your rights. Staying consistent with your pumping times keeps your milk supply on schedule with your baby. I know if can be really hard to find the time but I adjusted my pumping schedule to fit my school schedule. I am also very fortunate that my pumping sessions are about 10 minutes long. Katy also has some great scheduling tips for pumping!
5. How long to pump
I pump for as long as I am getting milk and then a little bit longer. I don’t have a problem with letdown but if you are experience difficulty getting milk to start flowing looking at videos or pictures of your baby can help. Those things signal your brain to secrete oxytocin which is responsible for lactation.
6. How much milk you need
I love this resource from KellyMom that calculates how many ounces of expressed milk your baby will need throughout the day. It calculates a total amount as well as how much per feeding. Bryn is a big fan of her 4oz bottles!
7. Invest in a good pump
I have the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump double pump and love it. It has lasted me for 2 babies and is well worth the money. However, with changes in healthcare, most insurances are now required to supply a breastpump to pregnant women so make sure you check with yours!
8. Have the right gear
Having the right gear is a good way to set yourself up for success. Here are some of my favorite things:
- Ameda Cool N Carry Breast Milk Storage System – This is my favorite thing. The ice packs keep my milk cool all day long and the carrying case fits right into the breastpump bag.
- Medela Car Charger – The car charger comes in handy when pumping on the go. Having the option to pump in the car between classes or running errands helps lower my stress levels when it comes to staying on schedule.
- Medela Pump & Save Breastmilk Bags – I love the Medela storage bags for storing my extra milk in the freezer. I found they they don’t leak which is a must!
9. Keep your eye on the prize
Pumping is an exhausting thing. It’s really hard to maintain and I have a serious love/hate relationship with the whooshing of my breastpump. On those really hard days I remember just WHY I am pumping to begin with. Providing Bryn with the perfect nutrition for her and some maternal antibodies are what matters most to me. So I keep at it.
10. Cut yourself some slack
If pumping is no longer working that’s ok too. Ultimately all that matters is that little tummies are full. Whether that be with breastmilk or formula you are providing for your baby. It’s ok to call it a day if it’s too much. You are no less of an amazing mom. A happy mom = a happy baby so if the stress is too high and you can’t fix it do what YOU think is best for yourself and your baby. 🙂
Sorry for the super wordy post but these were just some of the things that have been working for me for the last 7 months! If you have more questions please email me. Not a lot is off limits 😉 foodfitnessandfamily @ gmail (dot) com.
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