Pump It Up!
For the past five months, I’ve been so nervous about going back to work for a bunch of reasons. Once I came to terms (as much as can be expected) with being separated from my baby, I became extremely nervous about pumping enough milk while at work. My goal from before T’s birth was to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, then to continue to breastfeed for at least a year. The thought of going back to work and not producing enough milk seriously upsets me. I know that in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that big of a deal… but I’m pretty stubborn (shocker), and once I set a goal, you can bet I will be devastated if I don’t meet or exceed it.
So, naturally, I spent all summer pumping and storing over 200 ounces of milk in our freezer. I figured that would get me through a month or two of “daycare bottles” if pumping didn’t go well and I wasn’t able to meet T’s milk demands. Am I crazy? Absolutely. Did it work? You betcha.
Now that I’ve been back at work for two weeks, I’m pleased to report that not only have I pumped enough milk to feed T when I’m away, I actually have a surplus. T takes two 4 oz bottles every day while I’m gone (once school starts and my days are a little longer, he will probably need 3 bottles). I have pumped no less than 10 oz every day. I’ve never pumped less than 5 oz in a session. Sometimes (like just now) I pump 6 oz in one session.
I’m so pleased with this that I’ve started thinking about what advice I would give to a new mom returning to work and hoping to pump. I actually have a coworker who will be in this very situation later this school year, so I’ve really been thinking of advice for her. She’s my inspiration for this post. So, in honor of Sweet Nika, I give you:
Pearls of Pumping Wisdom!
- Start pumping before you go back to work. This will increase your overall daily output, and what you pump can be frozen and saved for “emergencies.” Frozen milk lasts 6 months in the freezer.
- Don’t stress out if you don’t pump much at first. Babies are inherently more efficient than any pump. It may take your body some time to get used to producing for a cold plastic pump. If you follow rule #1, then rule #2 will be a breeze.
- Spend the first 2-3 weeks of your baby’s life nursing as much as possible. This is smart because it’s a good way to boost your supply without having to pump (have I mentioned how much I hate my breast pump? Or any breast pump for that matter?). Don’t focus too much on pumping the first two weeks. Enjoy your baby and get rest… adequate rest is good for your supply. Only pump when you feel engorged at first. You can “schedule” pumping sessions later!
- Eat, Drink, and be Merry! Seriously, increase your water intake as much as possible. Pack snacks so you can eat every few hours. I’m eating almonds right now and slurping my way through giant bottle numero tres of ice water.
- Make time to pump during the workday. There’s no way around it, ladies. You have to pump if you want your supply to stay intact. You have to take time out of your day for this. It’s not easy. Believe me, I’m an elementary school teacher. Finding time to sneak off to pump when you have a classroom full of noisy, nosy, and active children is difficult. FIND THE TIME. It’s important.
Good luck, Mamas! With just a little effort, you too can be a dairy cow! 😉