Avoiding pumping while working part time — The Bump

Avoiding pumping while working part time

I am going back to work 3 days per week and wondering if I can go long stretches without nursing or pumping without messing with my supply.  I have a good stash of frozen milk and an exclusively BF 5 month old.  

My hope would be to nurse all the days I'm home with her (4 days per week) and right before and after daycare, so it would be about a 9 or 10 hour stretch 3 days a week without nursing or pumping.  She still wakes up usually once per night for feeding.  I'd probably also pump after work (before or after feeding) to get some more milk out.  I also pump before bed every night, so I'm not worried about having enough bottles.  My concern is, will be body stop making much milk during the day due to my 3 days with the long stretch?  Will my body not make enough during the day on my 4 days off?  I have heard of reverse cycling but since I will be home more days than not, I don't want my body to think she doesn't need milk during the day.  

Re: Avoiding pumping while working part time

  • I don't know how it would affect your supply, but I would imagine it would be VERY uncomfortable to go 9 hours without pumping. Personally, I can't go much more than 3 or 4 without feeling super engorged. Why don't you want to pump those days?
    DD1: June '16 DD2: March ‘19 :::: Married since 2011 :::: USN Wife ::::
  • It is possible that you can lose your supply dramatically. I produce a lot of milk and I have to pump if my baby sleeps longer than 3 or 4 hours. It's not comfortable and very painful. Also you can get clogged ducts. I don't think it's smart to do. I suggest pumping and storing at work.  
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  • Thanks for the responses!  I just don't like the idea of pumping at work, and it's a new job.  I find the conversation awkward at a new place and although I think the boss would be supportive and a decent space would be available, I don't want to lug a pump down the hall and hide away to pump when there is so much more to be learning and doing! I have gone a couple days (away from baby during daytime) without pumping for close to that amount of time-- more like 8 hours, 7am-3pm.  It was uncomfortable but not even close to painful, and I pumped before feeding my baby when I saw her again.  Since I will be with my baby 4 days per week and have a good freezer supply saved up and don't feel in pain, my main concern is the possible impact on supply.  anyone try something similar? Maybe I could get away with just one midday pump or quick sessions with a manual pump that fits in my purse? 
  • I would imagine it would affect your supply, but I've never been able to go more than 4 hours without becoming extremely uncomfortable.  If you can manage at least a mid day pump that would probably be best.  I've also gotten a car adapter and pump while driving to from work occasionally.
  • If you think your workplace would be willing to work with you have the conversation! It might be awkward, but there are many more difficult conversations to be had in the future as a parent. It's better to have it as an option and choose not to use it than to wish you had a place to pump during the day and not have one.

    I too will be starting a new job, in a male dominated industry where I will be traveling back and forth from the office. I imagine I'll have to have this talk with a few different people to get things set up. But just to have the option it's worth the awkwardness. As for learning and doing your job, everyone needs a break, this just happens to also feed your kid.

    Good luck in whatever you choose to do.
    DD1: June '16 DD2: March ‘19 :::: Married since 2011 :::: USN Wife ::::
  • Take this from someone who has experienced mastitis twice and had surgery for a breast abscess... Avoiding pumping for that long of a stretch is asking for trouble. You are setting yourself up for developing a supply issue or personal health problem for sure. Discuss with your supervisor your needs as a new mom, I'm sure that he or she understand as breastfeeding and pumping are very commonplace. 
  • Yes, you could develop supply issues. And I got mastitis without ever getting painfully engorged. Mastitis is awful. Pumping at work can be awkward, but you will get used to it. I knew I had finally gotten used to if a few months ago when I got my pump stuff all set up and was about to pull my shirt up and realized I hadn't closed the blinds!  
  • I think you should have the conversation. I have a medela pump. It's small and comes with a case that can perfectly fit in my purse. It can take batteries, plug in the wall or car. I think pumping at least once would be best for you. But good luck! 
  • 4N6s4N6s member
    I can't imagine it not affecting your supply. Pump once, you can do it!!
  • I'm planning on exactly what you are talking about. 3 days PT, then 4 days off in a row. I plan on pumping 3 times per day. Like 9/10, 1 and 3. I don't feel like I am brimming over with milk though and I fully anticipate that even that may disrupt my supply. At night, I can make it about 6-7 hours without pumping, but I would do it at 4 hours if I could go back to sleep afterwards (which I can't). I'm trying to keep it as close to her normal nursing schedule as possible. Her epic cluster nursing won't start until we get home, of course.
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  • I'm gonna post the unpopular opinion here and say you might be just fine. I tend to pump only one time in the middle of my 8-9 hour work day and it helps keep my supply up, but I have learned on many occasions that I can easily go 8 or 9 hours with no pumping and not be in pain. I get very full by the end but it doesn't hurt me. I have had to do this multiple times over the past several months and never had a breast infection. And LO is 5 months bf'd, just starting to eat solids! All that to say, I think it totally depends on the person! I totally understand wanting to avoid it--pumping is super inconvenient--but if nothing else just keep that supply flowing and avoid any potential problems! 
  • I agree with @annawestt. I have been ok doing it frequently. I do see a slight decrease in supply after several days, but can fix it with a few days of pumping. I do not have a freezer stash to fall back on though. In general, your body should adjust to meet LO's current demands.  If LO starts solids in a few weeks, that may make up for any drop in supply. 
  • Thanks everyone!  I know I probably should have the talk and pump at work but I've tried a few days without and its going ok so far.  I nurse right before work and bring a manual pump in my bag to releive fullness if needed quickly in the bathroom (some days I've done this, others not). Then I pump on the ride home which is almost 9 hours later.  I get 9-10 oz which is much more than I normally would.  Then I still nurse within a half hour of that.  

    I am uncomforably full by the afternoon but not "pain" and so far my supply seems fine and baby is actually eating less at daycare than what I pump after work (eating 8 oz when I packed 12 for the day).  I hope I can keep it up without supply issues or risk of infection.  I don't work consecutive days so maybe that will help.  I do notice her eating more in the evening and overnight. For me the discomfort of fullness (as long as I don't get clogged ducts) is probably better than the discomfort of having to pump at a brand new job.  That being said I will start pumping if I have problems in the next couple weeks! 
  • You need to pump as many times as your baby eats when you are gone. If you dont, your body will think that baby will stop eating and it WILL start to produce less milk. When I first went back to work I would nurse on one side before I left and then pump the other on my commute, getting about 5 or 6oz, then would pump 2 or 3 times at work. As my baby has gotten older I've started pumping less, and my supply has adjusted. I pump once or twice depending on how long my shift is and I pump just enough to keep up with her. I started with a decent stash of frozen milk (I had about 50oz in May) and in August I was down to one extra bottle in the freezer. Now, my daughter has started getting one bottle while I am at work (vs two) and I still pump twice, so that I can start to build my freezer supply for a wedding my SO and I are going to soon.

    It may take weeks or it may take months but your supply WILL lower if you do not pump the number of times your baby eats. I strongly suggest pumping if you are not planning on weaning.
  • That being said, if your baby has two bottles while you work you may be okay as long as you continue to pump before work and every night. But, if baby has 3 bottles you would need to add a pumping session in there, most likely during your work day. You should pump as many times as your baby has a bottle within a 24 hour period. So it doesn't have to be at the exact time your baby nurses. Does that make sense?
  • Pumping can somtimes be an awkward topic, but I've been trying to treat it like I do breastfeeding. I don't shy away from conversations about breastfeeding because it's just how I feed my baby, it's normal. Pumping is just another way I feed my baby and I've tried to talk more candidly about it at work, and at this point everyone knows what I'm doing on my breaks and no one cares, it's helped me feel more comfortable.
  • Thanks @kaylerjean !  I think it must depend on the situation, baby's age, etc.  I've been doing well for a few weeks now, but you are right it might just take more time for this to catch up to me.  So far, I'll nurse in the morning both sides and pump after to empty anything left (usually just a half oz or oz) then I go to work and pump after (9ish hours).  I've been getting 10-12 oz these days if I pump for 15 minutes after work.  She drinks 2-3 bottles (8-12 oz) while I'm working, so even though I'm not pumping the right # of times, I'm getting the right amount to keep up.  She seems to eat more at night on my work days. I haven't been needing to use frozen but I still pump every night and freeze that, so I have a good stash, about 150 oz frozen.  I figure I will keep doing what I am doing unless I start getting less when I pump after work. Hopefully if I notice a supply drop it won't be too late to reverse it by increasing pumping, and I can supplement with frozen in the meantime. I think the fact that she was over 4 months when I went back to work and working non-consecutive days has made my situation very different from most mothers who would need to pump much more regularly for supply and comfort level! 
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