I returned to work about two months ago and have many questions about pumping and supply.
My son is almost seven months old and is mostly breast fed. i say mostly because we use formula to mix with his cereal for my fear of not having enough expressed milk for him to drink. I am working part time anywhere from 5-20 hours a week. I generally work three six hour shifts at varied times of the day. These shifts are anywhere from 6am to 11pm. I am supposed to get one fifteen minute break at work for these shifts but in all honestly I hardly ever do. Most of the time I do not even use the restroom when I am at work, so pumping is not an option. I am worried because I can tell the next day after I work a late shift that my milk seems to be low at night, lower that usual. First of all, is this my paranoia, or is this really possible?
My travel time to work is about 35 minutes both ways. So when I do work, I feed my son right before I leave but then I wll go about seven to eight hours without being able to express any milk. I do no get a full feeling, although I can feel my milk let down during work. I am worried that going that long will affect my milk supply, if it already hasn't. I am currently pumping twice in the mornings when I do not have to work during the second and third breasfeeding sessions on the opposite side my son is nursing on. I do this to try to keep up with him since I cannot pump at work. Any insite on how this all works. Will I be able to keep up with my son's needs? If I pump when I get home from working 4:30pm to 10:30pm, mind you this is after I have fed him at 3:30pm before I leave for work, I am only expressing about 6-8 ounces of milk. I know that my son consumes more than that if I am home nursing him. Or is he? Totally confused with many questions, any help out there?
Also have questions on what my rights are as a breast feeding mother. I have repeatedly asked my work to only schedule me four or five hour shifts so that my time away from my son is shorter but they continue to schedule me six hours with no real break to pump. I believe I started to get a blocked milk duct last week as well, but I think I caught it in time to work it out. Please give any advice possible. Don't want to have to quit breast feeding. I am really striving to make it a year as I had to quit way earlier than I would have liked with my twins.
Re: need advice...
If you can pump at least one time at work, that would be to your benefit. Employers are REQUIRED to allow you time away from the job for a full work shift (8 hours). Is the issue that you cannot get time to get away, or is the issue that your employer doesn't allow for it?
That being said, if pumping absolutely is NOT an option, it doesn't mean that your bfing relationship is over. :) Your overall supply will be reduced, but nursing as frequently as possible when you're home will help greatly. If you are unable to provide enough ebm for when you're working, you could consider offering formula while at work, and breastfeed when you're home.
Re: need advice...
AAAAAND...I see that I totally missed part of your reply. Ooops. Sorry 'bout that!
Hmmm...I'm not sure of what your rights are for a reduced hour work day. Do you know your State's labor laws? That would be a great place to start. Oh, and are your co-workers sneaking out for smoke breaks? If so, then it should be much easier for you to get time to pump. :)
Re: need advice...
Sadly, I don't think that any states have requirements about reduced work days for breastfeeding mothers. There certainly isn't any kind of federal regulation.
If you can advocate for your 15min break (do smokers in your workplace take a break(s)?), then do so. It's your right. What you do with your 15 minutes is your decision, as long as it doesn't break any laws (i.e., illegal drugs).
One day of missing feedings shouldn't lower your milk supply. And, since you've said that you're schedule varies, you shouldn't be falling into a pattern of missing the same feedings each day. If you do think that your supply is lower, you'll help it bounce back by nursing more on your days off.
Ideally, babies should be drinking 1oz to 1.5oz of expressed milk for each hour they are separated from you. This varies, depending on baby's provider, solids given, and how much baby would prefer to wait to get it "straight from the source". So, your 6-8oz that you get at the end of a shift really is pretty normal.
You don't mention what kind of pump you're using - please make sure it's not one made by a company that also makes formula. So, stick with Ameda, Avent, or Medela products, mostly.
By going 8hrs without nursing, I'd be most worried about getting plugged ducts (which you mentioned). Nurse/pump as soon as you can, and treat any plugged ducts as soon as you think you might be getting one.