Breast Pumping Tips
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For mothers who plan to continue breastfeeding their babies, returning to work after maternity leave presents some unique challenges. Just as you’ve finally gotten into the groove with nursing your little one, you’ll be forced to spend long hours apart, requiring you to pump throughout the day. Don’t panic—with the right preparation and some smart techniques, pumping at work can be quick and easy.
While pumping for seven months with each of my two older daughters, I found the following strategies to be extremely helpful:
- Find a quiet space. In order for your body to secrete the hormone that releases your milk, you need to be as relaxed as possible, and this means locating a private, quiet place. Ideally, you should seek out a room with a locking door, a comfortable chair, and a tabletop on which to place your pump, bottles, and other accessories.
- Get a good pump. They may be pricey, but high-quality, double electric pumps are worth every penny. By doing both sides at once and benefitting from the extra suction and horsepower, your pumping time will be cut in half.
- Think about your baby. Many moms find that looking at a picture of their little one or holding a piece of their clothing while pumping helps get the milk flowing.
- Pump as much as you can. Breast milk follows the “supply and demand” rule—the more you pump, the more milk your body will make. In a regular 8-hour work day, try to head to your pumping station for 10-15 minutes, 3 times a day. If necessary, let your boss know your intended schedule ahead of time so he or she will be aware of the reason for your absences.
- Avoid formula. Provide your caregiver with enough pumped breast milk to make formula feedings unnecessary. If your baby gets accustomed to receiving formula throughout the day, his demand for breast milk will decrease.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to slowed milk production. Drink plenty of water, juice, and milk, and avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks.
- Don’t smoke. Not only can it interfere with your body’s ability to produce milk, nicotine can also alter the taste of the milk and wreak havoc on your baby’s sleep patterns.
- Eat right and exercise. In addition to the obvious benefits of physical fitness and overall well-being, a well-rounded, nutritional diet and regular exercise help to fuel your body to produce the milk your baby needs.
- Breast-feed more when you’re home. By nursing your baby frequently during early mornings, nights, and weekends, you’ll get more milk during your pumping sessions. If your breasts aren’t entirely empty after a nursing session, pump for a few minutes afterward.
If you encounter any difficulty with pumping, contact a lactation specialist for help. Most obstetrical practices keep one on staff to assist new mothers with breastfeeding questions and issues.