Returning to Work & Your Milk Supply

This week we would love to talk to you about your milk supply as most of you have many concerns revolving around your ability to keep your milk supply up when pumping at work. We love supporting moms through the transition of maternity leave and going back to work, and the topics of pumping, milk supply and all that comes with it are always on the top of the list of concern for our breastfeeding and working moms.

First of all, let's get this straight- our milk is like liquid gold.  When it's pumped, it carries so much meaning and emotion because we can actually see the nourishment provided for our babies. It’s so satisfying to see how much we are able to produce. Pumped milk is not only our baby’s food source, it is also a new mom’s freedom and it exemplifies the immense struggle we go through on a day-to-day basis when we are pumping at work. This is so important to realize and to hold this sacred. There’s a lot of power in pumped milk!

As you prepare to go back to work, it can be helpful to remember that there WILL be times when you can not find time to pump – and please, don't let that drive you crazy.  Our bodies and our babies are very resilient and there are many ways to make up for missed pumping session.

So take a breath and take a moment to read these techniques to helping you keep up your milk supply after heading to back to work:

1.  Pumping during your baby’s feedings: Try and pump during the day at the same time your baby is feeding at home.  This is pretty self explanatory but itss not always possible.  Finding time to pump can be extremely difficult depending on your work schedule and workload.  Not everyone can stop their work every three hours to pump - and missing a pumping session can be very intimidating for a new mother...try and relax.

2.  Stay Calm:  Staying calm and learning to meditate in some fashion is a tool you will continue to use well into parenthood.  Once you're finally able to find the time to pump, try sitting in a comfortable chair and take your shoes off if you feel like it. Feeling your feet on the floor is one way to ground in the present moment. Now take a deep breath and start pumping.  

While you are pumping, try telling yourself, "I will pump what I pump and that will be good enough.”  

Also, starring at your milk as it is being pumped into a bottle can be very stressful, so make sure you have something to do while you're pumping - preferably something relaxing.

3.  Compression:  Holding your breasts and squeezing, not too hard but hard enough, will help you to express your milk faster and more of it.  This can also help to express more hind milk than foremilk, which will help to keep your baby fuller with less milk.

4.  Be confident in yourself and your baby:  Pumping is SO difficult and stressful, especially when you are at work.  And some mothers are so hard on themselves about milk supply that it can actually cause more stress and be counterproductive.  But babies are very smart and our bodies are extremely sophisticated.  If you do happen to have trouble pumping milk during the day, you baby will adjust by doing what is called Reverse Cycling.  

Reverse Cycling is when your baby switches their feeding schedule so they begin to require more calories at night and less during the day.  It is recommended that you try and nurse your baby as much as possible when you get home from work in order to give them the food they need but also the connection you and they crave.  It may also be necessary to begin co-sleeping with your baby if you never did or start again if you aren't already.  Co-sleeping with your baby during Reverse Cycling can help you AND your baby to get the sleep you both need while she gets the nutrients she needs.

If you found this article helpful, please share with someone you know who’s planning to go back to work. And if you’d like more support as you prepare to go back to work, we’ve got 2 workshops in Brooklyn coming up. Back-to-Work 101 returns to Diaperkind on Tuesday April 12th from 2:30-4:30pm, and also Wednesday May 18th from 10am-12pm at Wild Was Mama. Check out our events page for more info:

Jen Mayer