Going Back to Work Need Advice on Breastfeeding/pumping!!!

Updated on October 24, 2007
S.F. asks from Elgin, IL
15 answers

ok, so i am going back to work in a little less than 2 weeks. my dd will be 8 weeks old and is exclusively breast fed, she loves it. it has been difficult getting her to take a bottle, but we are working on it. with my older daughter when i went back to work, i had a terrible pump, and was never able to pump much, therefore she was on formula during the days i was not with her, then i breastfed her everytime i was. this time around i have a much better pump, and have been pumping here and there to stock up, for when i go back to work. in the earlier weeks after she was born i was able to pump 2-5oz bottles in 10 minutes, these days, i am lucky to get 1-4oz bottle in 10 minutes. so my questions to you are, 1) how do i increase my milk supply to pump more for her, i will be pumping at work, but i am afraid, that my milk supply will decrease, i have read that pumping sometimes decreases your supply, and 2) how do i know much milk she will need at daycare. obviousely breastfeeding you can't measure how much they eat, and i don't want to send to much milk, because if they don't use it,they will throw it out after a certain amount of time, and that is gold!!!, i also don't want to send to little, and have her starving throughout the day. i just need a little advice on what any of you working moms have done, and what worked best for you, thank you all for helping out!!!

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answers from Chicago on

the day care should not be throwing any of the milk out. If you have a little more than you need for one day, it can get used the next day. Here is how I did this. A baby needs approximately 2.5oz per lb per day. So calculate what this is and divide it by the number of feeds you usually give baby per day. Then work out roughly how many times during the daycare time that baby will be fed. So you then calculate roughly how much the baby will feed and send that amount or slightly more to daycare. I would send it still frozen. They can thaw it out as needed. That way if there is a little left at the end, it can be used the next day as it won't have been thawed all day.

Pumping will decrease your supply a bit but what you can do is nurse the baby a bit more to get it up and the weekends are great for this. everyone is different as to how much they get from pumping. pumping early in the morning gets you more compared to later in the day. drink lots of water too.

Also remember, it isn't the end of the world if baby gets a little formula. The more you nurse, the more the supply will come so if you notice a dip, try to nurse at home more.

good luck.



answers from Chicago on

You can find a lot of help (and support) at http://forums.lalecheleague.org.



answers from Austin on

To increase your supply, nurse nurse nurse...drink lots of water, eat oatmeal, and fenugreek is the most common herb you can use to help increase supply. You can usually find capsules at health food stores. There is a good chart here for dosage. http://www.kellymom.com/herbal/milksupply/fenugreek.html.

I know in the beginning, my son only took small bottles. I don't think he ever took more than 5-6 oz per bottle and that was when he was 12ish months. I would probably send a 3 or 4 oz bottle at most for each feeding he would typically have during the day. Then after a few days you will be able to see what he is really eating and adjust accordingly. I know I had my daycare provider keep a bag of frozen breastmilk in her freezer so that if he was ever more hungry she could use that. But I don't know if you have that kind of option.

Also, if you can pump 3-4 times a day while at work that may help. I know at first I would get to work a little early and pump before work, then at my two breaks and during lunch. I was able to keep him on breastmilk only through and past 12 months. I did have to use some fenugreek a number of times, but it always seemed to help pretty quickly. I know breaks are supposed to be 10 min, but I normally took a little bit longer, cause it takes at least 5 min to wash up afterwards, so I would do 15 min pumping and 5 min cleanup, but they were pretty understanding at my workplace. Usually you will get alot more in the morning too than you will in the afternoon.



answers from Indianapolis on

I had an "avent" pump and the bottles are perfect for breast fed babies (the pump is like $50 at kroger or walmart) and the bottle nipples are shaped as a mothers breast. You will get a lot of milk with this pump, dont let the manual pump get you down though, it is so great! the pump and you should get 5-8 oz a sitting (10 minutes.)

I lost a lot of milk also when I stopped nursing, I am sorry to tell you but I think that is part of it. Drink a lot of water and keep eating lots of food to produce that milk, also nurse as much as you can!

Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

keep hydrated, get rest, eat right
mother's milk tea
try to take a couple of deep breaths before pumping, have a pic of the baby and don't try and multi task while pumping you will get more milk



answers from Chicago on

Here are 2 websites that helped me when I was pumping:
www.workandpump.com - great info and support here.

http://www.fourfriends.com/cgi-bin/milk.pl - this one has a calculator where you put in the baby's weight and number of feeds per day and it give you an average of how much they need. This site was a great help to me in figuring out how much to send.

For keeping your supply up: drink lots of water, eat plenty of protein, drink mother's milk tea. I also took a supplement called More Milk Plus. You can find it at Whole Foods or online. It comes in tincture or capsule form. It is a blend of fenugreek, blessed thistle and nettle. It worked really well for me, especially during times when she was going through growth spurts.

Another thing is that I really had to spend a lot of time educating my caregiver about breastfeeding. My daughter was the only breastfed baby in the class and her feeding was not the same as a formula fed baby. While I fed her on demand at home, I found that it was better for me to write out a schedule of when she should be fed. Otherwise they would feed her anytime she fussed, and often times she was not hungry. Because eating from a bottle was much easier for her, she would suck down the entire amount and then have a belly ache or spit it up. :( Also, because of the supply and demand nature of breastfeeding, I had a strict rule that she was not to be fed 90 minutes-2 hours before I picked her up. I wanted to be able to breastfeed her right away to keep my supply up.

As far as pumping goes, I found I got the most yield first thing in the morning. I would pump both sides first thing and then feed my daugther right before leaving. There was always plenty of milk for her after pumping. Another thing that helped me was to pump on one side and feed her on the other at the same time. It's a little tricky at first, but I always got more from the pump with the baby also sucking. I would pump hands free by joining 2 rubberbands together, then one hook would go over the horn and the other would hook on my bra.



answers from Chicago on

1. You need a really good dual breast pump.
2. For the rest of your leave, pump, pump, pump as much as you can. I was pumping every hour or so when I wanted to increase my milk supply (even at night). It took me a couple of weeks to get my milk supply up again, but it worked.
3. Drink a lot of fluids especially water, chamomile tea, that helps with the milk supply.
4. With the going back to work, try switching to the bottle. Pump and then feed it to her in a bottle for a few days, that way you will see how many ounces she needs.

Also, I have hospital grade pump for sale if you're interested. I also had a really bad pump with my son and I'm really surprised I lasted 6 months breastfeeding with that pump. With the second baby we bought a really good quality pump and it was really money well spent. I breast fed my daughter for 1 year.



answers from Chicago on

Hi S.,

I'm a pumping-mom (lol) and I can answer some of your questions with what has worked for me...

- Since you have 2 weeks left on leave, I would suggest trying to feed your DD from the bottle during the day when you will be at work. You can still BF her at night. This way, you will be able to tell how many bottles she takes during the day.

- For her bottles, I would suggest starting with only 3 oz or so in the bottle and heat up some more if she wants more. It's almost painful to have to throw out the liquid-gold! You will get a good idea as to how much she wants for each feeding after a day or so.

- Daycare will not throw out your unused bottles. By the time you take her to daycare, you will know how much to put in each bottle and they will feed her accordingly. The remaining bottles will be kept in the fridge for you and they are good for 8 days from the day they were pumped. If it was frozen milk that you thawed, you have 24 hours to use it.

- When you get to work, pump as often as she was eating. I pump every three hours at work. My son is 10 weeks and goes through four 4.5 oz bottles during the day. I get about 5 oz or so each time I pump at work.

- I BF him at home as much as I can, but sometimes we aren't on the right schedule and pump and he bottle feeds...this way Dad gets in on it, too! Lol.

- To keep my supply up, I get up in the middle of the night to pump, even though our son usually sleeps through the night. I still TRY to maintain the three-hour schedule with pumping at night. That way, I usually have an extra bottle or two in the fridge. There are some nights when I will go 5 hours, but I'm uncomfortable at that point, so I have to get up to pump.

I hope some of this helps. Good luck and although it's a lot of work, I'm happy that I am able to provide the benefits of breast milk to my son.

If you have any other questions, feel free to email me. I'm by no means an expert, but I pumped with my first son and am currently doing it now and I can offer some support. :)


Edited to add: One thing that has made the pumping easier for me is having a pump at work and one at home. I HATED hauling the pump back and forth everyday. I use the Medela Pump in Style and the case is pretty big, so it was a pain. I bought a second one to make it easier on me.



answers from Chicago on

Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water and get plenty of rest. Honestly, it sounds like you're very worried/stressed about this situation - and we all know that stress decreases our milk supply. Make sure you pump at least every 3 hours (religiously) while at work - make sure you are relaxed (stare at pictures of your kids if you think this will help) and pump for approx. 15 minutes - make sure you have a great pump (I used the medela pump & style) - I think that's the key thing - having a great pump. As a mother/baby nurse and as a mother of 2, this is what I would recommend to you. And of course, while you are home, nurse, nurse nurse your baby. . .I hope this helps - keep us posted! Oh - I used ovaltine to increase my milk supply - something with the malt that helps increase milk supply - I laughed at first, but it worked very well (and I did try the more milk plus tea and the fenugreek). . .keep us posted!



answers from Indianapolis on

The way to increase your milk supply is to feed or pump more often. When I went back to work I gave the sitter 3- 4 oz bottles. At first he did not like the bottle which was Avent, so we switched to Dr.Brown's bottles that seem to be more like breastfeeding. Now after only being back to work for 2 weeks, he takes the bottle like a champ and is now up to 5oz feedings. But every baby is different, my son is 12 weeks old and weights over 16 lbs. If they don't use all three bottles of breastmilk, the leftover can be saved for the next day as they are still good in the frig. It will take the baby a couple weeks to get used to someone else feeding them and get used to the bottle. One thing I did do this time with my second son was to keep the same pattern on the weekends where he would still get bottle fed breastmilk during the day and nursed before bed, during the night and in the morning. That way your body gets used to producing the same amount of milk each day and the baby gets into a pattern that they can rely on everyday. Good luck!



answers from Indianapolis on

First, CONGRATS on your dedication to breastfeeding and for giving your LO this amazing gift!! I am a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor and have been nursing my son for almost 17months and work outside the home most of the time.

As for increasing your supply... the key is not just to nurse often/pump often, but also to pump past the last drop of milk. If you pump at least 5 minutes past when the flow stops, you will trigger to your body to make more. Don't fret too much if you don't pump a lot when you go back to work, as long you you are consistent, taking care of yourself, and relaxed, you will begin getting more over time.

As for how much, my LO ate 3-4oz bottles ever 2-3 hours. I would recommend storing the milk in 2oz bags and sending enough for 4 ounces per feeding until you find out what she is eating. And don't forget growth spurts - when they start to eat more... this is when they are triggering you to make more.

Be sure to pump every 3 hours (or preferrably every time your LO would nurse) while at work.

Also, some children eat less at daycare and nurse more at night when their mothers go back to work. That is what Maddox did. He has always been a night nurser since I started back to work. It is hard on my sleep, but it gives us alone time and has kept my cycle gone this long! :-)

If you have any other questions, please let me know! You can message me on here and I will give you my email. I am actually getting ready to start giving workshops on BFing and returning to work at IUPUI, so I am very familiar with the issues! Take care and again, CONGRATS!! GREAT WORK!!



answers from Fort Wayne on

I went back to work part-time after six weeks with my daughter. I have always only been able to pump one six ounce bottle a day (after two pumpings). When I needed a boost in supply, I took Fenugreek capsules (available at most grocery stores, health stores and herb stores). I also took Fenugreek with Marshmallow (only available at herbal stores -- like Josephs Herbs on the corner of Coldwater Road and Wallen Road). Warning -- If you decide to go this route, be prepared for your sweat and urine to smell like maple syrup! Fenugreek is the ingredient they use in artificial maple syrup. You have to take two to three capsules three times a day for it to really work.
There is also "Mother's Milk Tea" which is avialable at the Food Co-Op downtown and also at some grocery stores. It is a tea that increases milk supply.
If you want to go a different route, Oatmeal (two servings a day) will increase your milk supply. I know it sounds crazy, but mother's in my breastfeeding support group swear by Meijer brand Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for increasing production -- but any oatmeal will do. I just use the regular old Quaker instant oatmeal.
Finally, when all else fails, you can do what I ended up doing, which is to mix a little formula with the bottles while I am gone, so that we can "stretch" the breastmilk supply a little further. We started out just using about one ounce of the premixed, ready to go liquid formula with her breastmilk in bottles and then increased until it was about 50 percent of each in the bottle.
As for the amount, I would imagine that you daughter will be drinking 3 to 4 oz. at each feeding at her age. (More likely 3 unless she is a huge drinker). If you plan on her eating every two to three hours, you would need to make sure to have at least 3 oz of breastmilk per bottle. When she starts to get older, she will probably start drinking about 5 oz. per bottle, but that isn't until about the four month mark (at least with us). Tabitha is now almost 8 months and still only drinks about 6 oz. when she is bottle fed and not nursing.
Hope this helps!



answers from Lafayette on

To increase you milk supply, you need to pump more often. It is the same as the when a child gets a growth spurt and feeds more often. For all three of my children, I would feed them on one side and then pump the other side.
You daycare provider should tell you when your child seems to not be getting enough to eat. That is when I would add 1oz. One way I figured out how much to send my first son was timing him on a bottle. I knew he breastfed for 10 minutes. I put 5oz in a bottle and timed how long he ate. Over the next few days, I would look at how many times you feed her. Then send that many bottles. If you are worried she may need more, send one more.
I would freeze most of the breastmilk. It can keep up to a year in the freezer or longer in a deep freeze. It is only good for a few days if keep in the fridge.
I hope this helps!



answers from Chicago on

I'm just recently back to work, and have a Medela Advanced Pump in Style. It works well for me. I find that I pump about 8 oz total in 20 minutes. My advice to you is to try drinking Fenugreek tea. There is a blend available from Whole Foods specifically for nursing moms. As far as daycare goes, they'll let you know if they need more. I'd start with four ounces a feeding and go from there. She won't starve, and they'll ration it to make it work for everyone. The most important thing is to just keep pumping... the more you nurse, the more you produce. My midwife told me that a pump shouldn't slow you down, as long as you have a good one. She suggested I pump every day at the same time, and often- every 2 to 3 hours. Good luck! Pat yourself on the back for pumping at work...

My son won't take a bottle at all while I'm gone (7 hours). He was fussy at first, but now just nurses when I get home. I don't love this situation, but we've worked our way through it. They never seem to do what we think, but in the end, they're pretty resilient little creatures. Take heart that you're doing the best thing for her by nursing, and she won't let you starve her-

All the best-



answers from Chicago on

Hi S.,

You already have great responses and advice. Just wanted to let you know what I did. I found the more water I drank, the more I pumped. I too went back to work after 10 weeks and stocked up on my breastmilk. It goes very very fast. I also found freezing smaller amounts (2 oz) at a time was better. If you send this to daycare (can they keep it in a freezer for you and return what they didn't use?) maybe less will be wasted. In the beginning I brought my hand pump to work. I found myself pumping for long periods of time and not getting much. I decided to bring my electric one to work on Monday (left it there) and brought it back home for the weekend (pumped and pumped...you start to feel like a cow :o)). When I was home at night during the week I breastfed my daughter whenever she needed it. If I felt like it or engorged then I used the manual for quick one's. Sometimes she was awake before I left for work (6:15) I would feed her otherwise I would quickly pump, freeze and leave.

Good luck and smother as much as you can with your time left. It will be O.K....she's in good hands.

Enjoy the breastfeeding too. Someone told me a while back to enjoy breastfeeding...it is just the two of you awake at night and the house is so quiet. I miss it so much.

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