Mothers who return to paid employment after their baby is born often have questions about how they can still provide their baby with human milk.
Two month ago, the LLL blog post focused on the importance of using the precious weeks of maternity leave to bond with your baby, learn her cues and to build your supply as much as possible. This month, the focus shifts to some of the most common challenges or questions that arise when preparing to return to paid employment.
Building a freezer stash of human milk
Not every mother-baby pair will need to build a large stash of human milk as most mothers are able to pump enough whilst at work to replenish what their baby drank during their separation.
It cannot be stressed enough that the amount of milk you are able to pump is NOT a reliable indicator of how much milk you are producing, nor how much milk baby is taking in. The healthy breastfed baby is usually much more efficient at getting milk from the breast than a pump is.*
Every mother is different but there are some generalities that can guide you.
When to pump while breastfeeding on cue
- Most experts recommend, especially for the occasional pumper, to express their milk in the early morning hours, about 10 minutes immediately after the baby’s first morning feeding. This is because many mothers usually have the most extra milk in the morning. Although you will get more milk if you wait an hour after the feeding, you are then pumping out a good part of the milk that is building up for baby’s next feeding.
- More short pumping sessions are more efficient than fewer longer ones.
- Remember to pump at LEAST 10 minutes, but no more than 20 minutes per session.
- Try "super switch nursing/pumping.” When you and baby are together you can try this technique to help increase your milk supply. It can also be done when pumping with a one-pump flange. This involves switching sides two or three times during each feeding. Repeating this several times during the pumping session increases breast stimulation and let down.
- You could pump during a time of day that your baby takes the longest nap.
- Try to avoid pumping right before your baby will be hungry.
- Try breastfeeding on one side while using an electric pump to pump the other side at the same time. This way, the let down is activated by the baby sucking on the breast.
What to expect of a pumping session
- The average mom can express between ONE and THREE oz. per pumping session (not per breast, per session).
- As you pump, milk will flow and then stop, then flow and stop, then flow and stop, and so on and so forth. The individual pattern can vary from person to person. It is often beneficial to continue pumping for 5 minutes after your milk stops flowing.
- Milk is produced according to the law of supply and demand so the more frequently you breastfeed or pump, the more milk you will make. One pumping session per day is a good goal to aim for in the early days.
- If possible, talk with other breastfeeding mothers about pumps they have used. Attending an LLL meeting is a great opportunity for you to discuss this issue.
- Another way to increase milk supply is to avoid supplementary bottles and pacifiers. This encourages your baby to meet all his sucking needs at your breasts. Doing this will help to increase your supply if you are trying to build a stash of human milk.
Seek out and accept help!
- Make sure you are getting good nutrition, adequate fluid, and lots of rest. This is a challenging time and it is important to take care of your self. Allow others to help you with your responsibilities while you focus on your baby.
- Attend a La Leche League meeting. There you will meet other mothers and get lots of support and information suitable for your situation.
Next month’s LLL blog post will focus on finding ways to make pumping at work an efficient, enjoyable (!) experience!
La Leche Leader, Bec Taylor, is a woman of many hats – WAHM to two children under 5, Masters of Teacher Librarianship student, scrapbooker, avid reader, wife and a painfully eternal optimist. Australians by birth and travellers by nature, Bec and her educator husband have happily lived and taught overseas for most of their adult lives. Bec is blessed to live in walking distance to both her parents as well as her brother and his family. It is her pleasure and privilege to support mothers through her role in LLL.
Photos: Wikimedia commons