Preparing to return to work can be an emotional and stressful time for a new breastfeeding mamma. With all the worries about being separated from your baby along with concerns over milk supply and pumping, it’s no wonder moms have a lot of questions about this transition. As a breastfeeding educator, here are 5 of the most common questions I hear from new moms about preparing to go back to work.
How can I keep a good milk supply after returning to work?
The best way to have a good milk supply after returning to work is to establish a good one in the early weeks. Make breastfeeding your focus, and breastfeed early and often.
When should I start pumping?
You really don’t need to start pumping to create a milk stash until a few weeks before you will start work. Pumping too early, unless there is a specific reason, causes stress and can lead to oversupply.
How much breastmilk do I need in the freezer?
Contrary to what the internet and some friends might suggest, you don’t actually need months of breastmilk stored up before returning to work. At a minimum, you need milk for the first day you will be separated from your baby. After that, you will have the pumped breastmilk from the day before to give. Most moms, however, will feel better with a few days to a week of milk on hand to pad a busy or stressful week or for the occasional date night :)
How much milk will my baby need during the day?
The average is one ounce per hour. Obviously, some babies will drink more and some less, but this is a good starting point. Note, it is really easy to overfeed from a bottle. So, if your childcare provider starts asking for more and more milk, have a conversation with them about paced bottle feeding.
How much should I pump?
Ideally, you should pump as often as your baby would breastfeed. How old your baby is when you return to work, and their individual feeding pattern, will influence how often you pump. Most moms find that pumping 3 times in a typical work day works well. Feeding your baby as close to drop off and pick up as possible is also helpful in lessening the amount of pumped milk they need.
If you’d like more tips on a smooth transition back to work, check out my class on Making Returning to Work Work!