If work or life circumstances prevent you from pumping at work, and you’ll be away from your baby long enough for your breasts to feel uncomfortably full (which can happen if this stretch of time is longer than your baby’s longest sleep period), you can still breastfeed during the hours you and your baby are together.
When you were pregnant, going back to work once your baby was born probably seemed like no big deal. Daycare lined up, bottles pumped and ready, put on your nice clothes and off you go, right? But now you have an actual baby at home, and it probably seems a lot more daunting. I remember being unsure if I’d actually even be able to get out the door on my first day back. Missing the baby is one thing, but for me, the biggest hurdle was getting organized.
Going back to work after having a baby can take a lot of planning. Both working and caring for a baby are demanding, and many mothers rethink their priorities. Breastfeeding is one part of this picture.
As you think about work and breastfeeding, know that the more mother's milk your baby gets, the better. But breastfeeding does not have to be all or nothing. Women have come up with many ways to fit breastfeeding into their lives. These choices may give you new ideas on how to make breastfeeding work for you and your family.
Your weeks or months at home after your baby is born are a time of closeness and togetherness. If you plan to go back to work, it is also a time to think about your breastfeeding goals and plan for later. Many of the choices you make now set the stage for your time back at work.
Breastfeed long and often. While at home, breastfeed long and often to bring in more milk. Wait until you're back at work to worry about bottles and schedules.
Wait to give bottles. Many parents wonder when to start a bottle. Here is the latest.
Going back to work after having a baby can take a lot of planning. One aspect of this is figuring out how to fit pumping into your work day.
If your goal is to keep up your milk supply, before going back to work count the number of times your baby breastfeeds in a 24 hour period. This is your "magic number." Try to keep this number steady after you go to work. It is fine to breastfeed more while you and your baby are together and pump less while at work, as long as this 24-hour total stays stable.
Many employed mothers who pump at work worry about meeting their long-term breastfeeding goals. One mother told me: “I have a 6-week-old and just returned to work. I pump once every 3 hours and am pumping more than enough milk for my baby. But I am fearful of pumping less. Given my son’s eating routine is still getting established and will likely still change, how do I keep my milk production stable?”