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Thread: How to prepare for return to work?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013

    Default How to prepare for return to work?

    I will be returning to work mid December. We are EBF as of now. When I return from work I will spend my day on the road away from lo. My car is my office. I have a few questions about returning to work and Breastfeeding.

    Obviously, my baby will need to take bottles while I'm gone during the day. When should I start introducing those? How often/ how many do I do? One a day? Gradually increasing?

    Should I start pumping to save some for future? When should I start that?

    Realistically, will I be able to continue providing breastmilk while working? I will have access to a pump , although I will have to use it in my car. Do I Breastfeed in afternoon/ evening when I return home or do I exclusively pump? Thanks for any help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Default Re: How to prepare for return to work?

    Good for you breastfeeding your baby before returning to work! This is a great way to make sure you have enough milk when you go back to work.

    Many mothers work full-time whose babies only eat mother's milk, so yes it is a realistic goal.

    Many mothers decide to nurse right when they leave their baby for work and then right when they return to their baby after work. Many babies who are away from their mothers during the day make up for lost "mommy" time by nursing frequently in the evening and during the night, because babies know that their need to be close to their mother is as important as their need for food! Nursing frequently while you are with your baby will help make sure that your body continues to make enough milk for your baby.

    How old is your baby?

    Most babies a month old and older eat about 25 ounces in a 24 hour period. So it's a good estimate that your baby will need a little over an ounce per hour that you are gone. For more details and precision, you can find a calculator here: http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/milkcalc/

    Babies who get milk using a bottle often are overfed. This is because milk flows more freely from a bottle, and care providers sometimes have a hard time understanding when baby is done eating. Moreover, many care providers encourage the baby to finish the bottle even when they do see the baby is done. You can teach your care provider to feed your baby in a way that supports breastfeeding using tips found here: http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...astfedbaby.pdf and here: http://www.bfar.org/bottlefeeding.pdf

    When should you start introducing bottles? You can wait until the day you go back to work. Some moms start earlier. It's probably a good idea to wait until breastfeeding is well established, usually at about 6 weeks old. It's probably a good idea to have someone besides Mom feed baby bottles. If you do give your baby a bottle before you go back to work, it's a good idea to pump your milk during that feeding to make sure your body keeps making the same amount of milk.

    Should you start pumping to save some for the future? Some moms plan to start pumping a little every day for a couple of weeks. If you are gone from your baby for 9 hours, then you will probably need to have about 9 ounces for her. If you pump an ounce or two every day for a few days, you will have it ready! Then, the milk you pump your first day of work, your baby can eat the second day of work. Other moms decide to pump for a "freezer stash" so that they have more on hand than what their baby will need the first day. More about handling milk here: http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...fyour_milk.pdf

    Many mothers find that they pump when they are away from their baby as often as their baby eats.

    It can be helpful to connect with other mothers who are pumping and working, and a La Leche League meeting in your area is a great way to make those connections!

    Good work, you are on your way!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012

    Default Re: How to prepare for return to work?

    Hi mama,

    First, yes, you can absolutely continue to provide breastmilk, and even exclusively breastfeed (with expressed milk while away from LO)!

    Generally it's recommended not to start introducing bottles before the breastfeeding relationship is well-established, about 4-6 weeks. But there's no reason to introduce bottles way before you go back to work, either. You can start a couple weeks before. I did not find it necessary to give the baby a bottle every day and anyway that's a pain to do when you are together with LO on maternity leave. So much easier just to nurse! So you can try a bottle a couple weeks before. If baby takes it without complaining, then every few days you might want to give a bottle just to keep baby in the habit. If baby doesn't like the bottle (some babies don't), that still gives you time to work on the bottle before going back to work.

    Yes, at some point you should start pumping for your first day back. The rule of thumb is that you need about 1 - 1.5 ounces of milk per hour apart from baby. So if you'll be gone for 10 hours, you'll want about 15 oz. Then each day you pump for the next day. Moms vary in how much they get out of the pump. For some, maybe no more than 0.5 oz or 1 oz. You don't want to do too much pumping before you go back to work because then you can pump your way into an oversupply. So a lot of moms (me included) will pump once a day for however many days it takes to get to the amount you need for the 15 oz. So if for example you do a trial pump and find you get 1 oz, you can plan to pump for 15 days to get the amount you need. But again, you are ahead the game at this point - you might start thinking about this about a month before you go back.

    Actually I think being on the road you may have an easier time that many moms do, because you can pump while driving. Get a hands-free setup (there are bras for this purpose, or you can make one for yourself by cutting holes out of a snug-fitting cami) and a car adapter for your pump. Set yourself up under a nursing cover or a shawl, start the pump, then hit the road! You'll want to pump every few hours. And yes, absolutely you can and should breastfeed while together with your LO - definitely do NOT want to exclusively pump if you can help it! The nursing you do together with baby helps maintain your supply, including nighttime nursing (my mantra is that nighttime nursing is a working mom's best friend - and that helped me feel better about those middle-of-the-night awakenings!)

    Finally, it's important that baby get bottles in a breastfeeding friendly way. Usually 2 or 3 oz at a time, maybe 4. A lot of moms find it convenient to store or freeze milk in 2 or 3 oz portions with 1 oz "toppers" as needed.

    Here are links about how much baby needs, breastfeeding-friendly bottle-feeding, and milk storage:

    ETA: Just saw mamma.mia's post, many of the links are the same.

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