If you’re like most moms, you’re likely returning to work within 3 months post-birth.
Two-thirds of American moms do. Thanks to recent changes in federal laws, you can continue to provide your baby the important benefits of breast milk via pumping once you return to work.
Start planning for pumping before giving birth. Let your employer know that you plan to pump milk for your baby when you return.
Make your case with tips from the federal program Business Case for Breastfeeding, available at WomensHealth.gov.
Ask other working moms what worked for them regarding pumping and storing milk and set yourself up for success with these steps.
Build your breastmilk freezer stash: once breastfeeding is going well, usually within 4 weeks post-birth, pump after your baby’s first morning feed. This time of day is best because you have higher prolactin levels that help you make more milk.
Wash your hands and use clean pump parts and containers for milk expression. Pump both breasts simultaneously for 10 minutes, building up to 15 minutes, over the next few mornings.
Continue to pump and store to maintain your extra milk. Having a good freezer reserve helps you return to work with less anxiety. You may not produce a lot of milk via pumping at first; some moms struggle with let down initially. Look at your baby, or pictures of your baby, and try to relax to help your body.
Freeze your milk in small portions (such as 2 ounces) in the coldest part of your freezer with the date clearly marked. Use the oldest milk first.
Introduce your baby to breastmilk via the bottle before returning to work. You may find it easier if your partner tries this first with baby.
Breastfeeding Moms: Jessica Shortall Has Your Back, and Your Well-Being at Heart Healthy Mom&Baby interviews lactivist and author Jessica Shortall