I worked full time. I pumped at work and breastfed for a year. How did I do it? These breastfeeding tips made all the difference!
To be clear…..Lydia is two and a half years old. Just in case you were wondering, she stopped breastfeeding at around thirteen months old. So, I've been thinking about writing out the best breastfeeding tips for THAT long. Why am I writing this post now? Because I can't tell you how many conversations I've had with moms about my experience working full time and pumping at work.
Before I delve into breastfeeding tips, advice, and a bit about our experience…….I wanted to say a bit about my own feelings about breastfeeding versus not. As new mothers, for this finite period of time (the first year)…..how we choose to feed our children is VERY significant. I was shocked at how many people asked me if I was breastfeeding, how many people gave breastfeeding advice whether I asked for it or not, and how many of these people gave me their opinions. I try to NOT give my new mom friends advice unless they ask. Why? Because breastfeeding (or not breastfeeding) is personal. It's tough to be a new mom. And it's my goal to support new moms as they step into a new role……whatever that looks like.
So, if breastfeeding tips aren't your thing……I promise I've got some great style posts…….and feel free to click over to THOSE. If they ARE your thing…….keep reading!
Our Breastfeeding Experience: I work full time as a teacher, and went back to work when Lydia was 14 weeks old. My goal when I went back to work? To pump at work, nurse at home and to breastfeed until Lydia was one. We did it. In fact, we never supplemented with formula (although looking back I might have supplemented as necessary and stressed a little less about pumping extra milk during evenings and weekends). Lydia drank from a bottle easily. We introduced solids at 6 months, and she transitioned to cow's milk the week of her first birthday with no problems. She was also that unicorn of a child who weaned herself happily at 13 months.
So……how did I do it? How did I keep breastfeeding for a full year while working full time?
Breastfeeding Tips for Working and Busy Moms:
Start pumping early and build up a supply: We worked with a lactation consultant, and she gave me some great advice. While I was still home with Lydia, I pumped for an additional ten minutes after each (or most) nursing sessions. Ten minutes allowed me to store up some milk in our freezer without totally confusing my body into thinking we had started ANOTHER nursing session.
Freeze milk in small quantities: I froze milk in 2-4 ounce increments. Why? Because I didn't want to defrost milk that wasn't needed.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: Mom life is exhausting. And exhausted bodies make less milk. If making it to a year is your goal, you need to take care of yourself. Stay hydrated, and eat well.
Supplies make a HUGE difference: A few items made pumping at work WAY easier. I used pump cleaning wipes to clean parts during the day, and then washed everything by hand at night. They were a lifesaver. I kept extra valves and small parts replacements at work. Why? Because I inevitably lost them or forgot them. Get a pumping bra. And a REALLY good pump…..I used a Medela Pump in Style and would highly recommend it!
Pump Frequently: I pumped every two to three hours while at work. What did that look like? I got to work by 7:30 am. I pumped at 7:45, 10:00, 12:30, and 3:00. EVERY DAY.
Prepare the Night Before: One of the most challenging parts of pumping at work for me was the preparation. There were so many parts to manage, clean, and carry. I was constantly afraid of forgetting a piece at home. So, my solution? A checklist on an index card. I kept this list on top of my pump, and checked it before leaving the house. And the best part? Because it was written down…..my husband could check and restock for me!
So mamas, where are YOU in this journey? Are you a mom of older kids? Feel free to leave breastfeeding tips in the comments for new mamas. Are you a brand new mom? Leave your questions! Let's support each other!