Breastfeeding as a working mom? — The Bump
July 2020 Moms

Breastfeeding as a working mom?

Hi, I only have 2 months maternity leave but wanted to continue to breasfeed my baby. For those with experience, how did this work for you? Did you bring your own storing case for your milk? How  often did you pump? What did you leave for your baby while he was at childcare? Did you have leaking issues while working? Is it possible to stay consistent with a feeding rourine like this? I'm halfway through my pregnancy, but I want to be mentally prepares for this as it's already making me nervous.

Answers

  • I breastfed for 18 months, 12 pumping at work. 

    It’s 100% possible. I’m an activity duty military doctor and I made it work. You may have to do work on your end as far as work, and may have to arm yourself with the laws that protect you. 

    I pumped every 3 hours for about 20 min (30 min total with set up/cleaning. I used an empty office with a lock, and had a sign up. People still walked though (I am pretty sarcastic and belligerent so it didn’t really matter to me, but be ready). I used the Kiinde bags /system and stored them in the work fridge in a lunch box. I put the pump parts in the fridge as well and used the Medela wipes. 

    I didn’t have many leakage issues, but that will depend on you (my mom leaked through shirts all the time, as did my aunts, I don’t). 

    It is 100% doable. I wasn’t always a fan of it, but I’m glad I pushed through. It was worth it in the end!
  • As far as childcare, it was what I pumped the day before. Make sure your provider is up to date on pace feeding. 
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  • It's totally possible! It's going to be easier with some jobs than others, but you should be able to figure things out. Remember that you can always change things up if you need to (and/or supplement with formula). Know what your rights are as an employee and advocate for yourself if you need to.

    Kellymom has a lot of good info that can help you think through some of these things - https://kellymom.com/category/bf/pumpingmoms/ and has links to other resources. There are other sites with good info out there too, I just know this one off the top of my head.

    -Storing milk: I brought an insulated lunch bag big enough to fit the pumping bottles and an ice pack, and kept it stored in the work fridge. I had a separate drawstring bag that I kept a big Ziploc with my pump parts in, and rinsed them between uses and kept that in the fridge. (As a side note, that's officially not recommended though).

    -How often: I can generally get away with pumping twice during a full 8-hour day, which is definitely less often than I would nurse during the same time period, but I was (I assume) getting out the same amount of milk that I would have otherwise. You can always add a pumping session before or after work, or some other time of day at home if you need more pumping time and can't fit it into your workday schedule.

    -How much: What I left with my baby varied over time, they usually keep pretty steady between 1-6 months, and gradually drop off as they add solids to their diet. Growth spurts can make them need more temporarily, too. When mine were exclusively breastfed, I think I was usually sending 8 oz per day with some frozen back-up milk. You might have to trial and error this part.

    -Leaking: I leak for a long time, but I always have nursing pads in my shirt/bra (I just wear nursing tanks and skip the bra a lot). I've never had any significant problems. I use washable nursing pads and for the first several months always had extras (disposable or washable) with me when I was away from home.

    There are a lot of variables, though! How often you need to pump depends a bit on how your body responds to the pump and how much milk your breasts store - some people can hold more milk at once, *somewhat* correlated to breast size. Smaller breasts can make just as much milk, but they might need to be emptied more often to refill more often - like filling a bucket from either a small measuring cup or a large one; you can do it either way but it take more refills from the smaller one. And you can't determine how much you'll make and store at once just based on breast size.

    Some babies will drink less milk when they're away from mom and nurse extra when you're together to make up for it, or some will refuse the bottle or be really picky about which type or milk temperature or something else. Luckily mine always happily took their bottles once they realized what was in them. They always wanted to nurse as soon as I picked them up after work, but they were totally fine with going back and forth. I was only working part time when they were that small, too, and they were fine with the routine being different on different days.

    Just think of pumping as replacing your nursing sessions (possibly one pumping session being equal to several nursing sessions). Otherwise, just breastfeed like usual when you're with your baby. You can totally make it work.
    2/13 Blighted ovum, D&C -- 6/13 MC -- 8/14 DD born -- 3/17 MC -- 9/18 DD2 born
    Unexpectedly expecting again -- EDD 7/27/20
  • Yes it is definitely possible. I went back to work at 5 months, pumped until 14 months, and am still nursing at 19 months (but she doesn’t really get anything anymore, but she sure loves the comfort of it). If you set your mind that it is what you are going to do, it’s totally achievable, but not always easy. 
    I pumped every 4 hours or so, which meant on the way to work in the car, over my lunch break, and then at the end of the day before going home. I had access to a fridge, so I stored my parts and milk in there. I used a pretty public space to pump because it’s all I had, and just made do. If work is giving you problems, it is your legal right to pump for a year and your work has to give you reasonable accommodations. If that becomes an issue, look up the laws and speak with HR. 
    I had a ridiculous oversupply and DD wouldn’t take a bottle for her first 5 weeks at the sitter, so I rotated milk. She got frozen milk every day at the sitter from the oldest that I had pumped, and I froze all my fresh milk. I ended up having to buy another freezer for milk. But she did receive breastmilk for 6 more months after I finished pumping and donated half my stash to a friend. Next time I hope to not have as much of an oversupply problem, and I will send the days before pumped milk for the following day. Read up on storage guidelines, milk stays fresh longer than you would realize. And don’t try for a huge freezer stash, it really isn’t necessary, and it is very painful and harder for a baby to nurse when you have oversupply. 
    I leaked until well past a year, I wore pads every day. I had reusable and they just became more laundry. It wasn’t that big of a deal. I stopped leaking through out to my shirt when she was 4 months or so. 
    Again, yes it is possible. Just be prepared to spend time away from baby pumping and time with baby nursing. When we would get home from work/the sitter, my daughter pretty much was on the boob until she went to bed. She never was a fan of the bottle, only ever drank enough at the sitters to not starve, so she stopped sleeping through the night so she could eat (reverse cycling- totally normal) and spent most of the evening nursing. Educate yourself and your spouse and just go with the flow. I learned how to do a lot of things one handed with a baby on the boob!
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