Going back to work is daunting
Are you worried about not having a large surplus of milk for your baby when you return to work? Or are you back at work and you are struggling with your supply, just pumping for tomorrow, not getting ahead?
Here is the truth:
All working moms are worried!
You are not alone in this, I think that thought crosses the mind in every working mom’s life! Whether a mom has a freezer full of milk or she just has a few ounces to last one work day.
By the way, I have never met anyone personally who has a freezer full of milk prior to starting to work.
Why do we all stress about this?
The obvious reason is that we all want our baby to drink our milk as long as possible. It is just a hard situation to prepare for in advance.
If you are like me, you may have had issues breastfeeding in the first place. Everyone says it is natural, but really – it is a huge learning curve for both you and your baby.
If breastfeeding happens naturally for you, then you are definitely one of the lucky ones.
For the rest of us, we have to deal with it. Every day I breastfed my infant, I felt like I was practicing for that one day when everything went perfectly. In a way when my daughter got older, I guess that we kind of got the hang of it. But prior to that, it just felt like I could never get it right. I will save the rest of the story for a future post.
Just know you are not alone if breastfeeding is not as easy as the world makes it seems.
This is why when you are on maternity leave and breastfeeding exclusively, it is HARD to pump at home. You have to take care of that tiny baby. There is no time for anything else. Which is why it is understandable that you do not have your freezer filled with
Here are some tips I gathered from other women and myself on how to increase your milk supply to support your baby with breastmilk while you work.
But while reading this, keep in mind, these are just tips and ideas. It is worth trying to keep your baby on breastmilk for sure, but if you just can’t pump enough it is perfectly okay to supplement.
Heads up! This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission.
#1 Breath in, breath out and relax
Every time you step up to that pump and start to get things going, take a deep breath in and out. Relax. Pumping while stressing can cause your pumping session to happen more slowly. Or the stress can restrict your milk production or make it take extra long.
YES! Being a mom is stressful, but if you can just relax and make your pumping session special, it will do you and your supply some good.
Play some soothing music, if you go on YouTube and search concentration music, there are some good relaxing videos you can listen to. Find one you like and make it your pumping music. These videos are typically a few hours long so you do not have to worry about it ending fast.
If the room you pump
When you know it is time to pump start relaxing and thinking positive. Even do a few stretches and get into the mood.
#2 Use a custom breastfeeding scent
Speaking of breathing in fresh air, this is kind of related to relaxing, but maybe your sense of smell can help you!
When you nurse your baby, spray a light scent or turn on a wax melt you enjoy. Be consistent and have that scent around every time you nurse, so the smell is immediately linked to breastfeeding your baby. Make it a relaxing scent that is not overwhelming.
Then when you go back to work, you can take that particular scent and use it in your pumping room. It should transport you back to nursing and
If your maternity leave is over, start using a particular scent when you nurse to have the same effect.
I had a eucalyptus mint wax melt that I always used during my maternity leave. Now, every time I smell that scent, it takes me back to those newborn days. It is a nice reminder of when she was a baby and it gives me that ‘about to letdown’ feeling.
Now that she is a toddler, it feels nice to smell that scent and reminisce about when she was so tiny and helpless. Ugh, I can’t express what a nice trigger a good smell and great memories
Oh, and if you are still pregnant or on maternity leave – enjoy every second with your baby. I know it’s super hard and you are not sleeping or getting any rest. Your nipples may be in pain and your body is trying to recover, but I still look back so fondly to my maternity leave. As a working mom, that quality time with her was priceless. She grew up fast, they are only newborns for a second and infants for a minute, not even kidding. Before you know it, you are planning their first birthday.
#3 Watch videos and look at photos of your baby while you pump
They teach this one in breastfeeding classes. Seeing your baby, even in photos is supposed to make your body react and have a faster letdown.
This one worked well for me. If my husband sent me a photo throughout the day, I would save it to look at while pumping at work. Sure enough, I would letdown really well when I did (I also maybe let down a tear or two).
Besides watching Frasier while I pump, I would also go back and look at basically every picture and video I had of my baby on my phone every once in a while. Obsessed? Maybe, but who is not obsessed with their tiny baby?
#4 Pump while your baby is nursing
This one takes some maneuvering, but you can do it! Pump while your baby is nursing at home. So set up your pumping area in a comfortable spot where you can nurse. If you can pump from bed go for it! If you can pump, nurse and nap, even better! Multitasking to the extreme.
A lot of women do it from their rocking chairs.
Strap your pump on one side and get your baby on the other. It is doable. You may need a nursing pillow or something else to support your baby.
Plus with your baby on one side, you will totally get a better letdown while pumping. Hence, more milk and an extra pumping session. That is two for the price of one.
#5 Pump during your drive to work
First things first, be safe and smart if you do attempt this! Of course, I am talking about doing it hands-free. Research the law in your area before you try this if you drive yourself or get someone to drive you.
If you have a decent commute to work, just pump and drive. Trust me, you will not be the first, only or last woman to do this. Plenty of women out there do it.
This helps women whose jobs are super busy and do not allow for multiple pumping sessions (although you have the right to pump at work). This is a great technique to maximize your milk supply.
If you feel like pumping at work is not enough, you can give this a try. You can squeeze in these commute pumpings if you do not want to do a late night or early morning pump.
I mean really, there is not much else you can do while you drive. You might as well get a few ounces here and there.
One pump that I personally heard is good for pumping in the car is the Spectra S1 Plus Premiere Rechargeable Electric Breast Pump (affliliate link) because it is rechargeable and portable. I have also heard it is a good pump overall. Medela pumps also have power chords that will work in your car, so do other brands. It is worth looking into and maybe trying it out.
If you drive yourself, do a test drive before you return to work or pump a few times while your partner is driving to get a feel of how it may be. Also, get all your safety procedures in place.
#6 Capture your second boob milk letdown
I am not sure what to call it exactly, but second boob milk letdown is exactly what it is. For those of you who have not nursed yet, when you have a letdown, it typically happens to both breasts. Not just the one that your baby is nursing on.
It even gets messy, especially if your baby is screaming and you forget to prep for the second boob letdown, man it’s the worst. The milk just drips all over you.
I hate to say it, but I am so guilty of not capturing my extra milk! I have lost so much milk over the past year and a half by letting my second boob milk get soaked up by a nursing pad.
This option is a bit less invasive than fully pumping with your machine while your baby is nursing. But when every ounce counts, do your best to save the milk from the boob that is not nursing.
Many women use the Haaka brand breast pump, which is a manual pump to get that extra milk coming out. There are also shells that attach to the breast and storage bags. Some you can even use all day because you will letdown even when you do not expect it. I did not use either so I can’t personally recommend either. But boy
I did read that some woman can capture an extra ounce of milk, with the shells. While some women can catch as much as 3 ounces when using a handheld breast pump. Either way, it is money in the bank, your milk bank that is.
**Looking for more information on breastfeeding from a real mom? Get the real story, read on now!***
#7 Two other tips: Nursing as much as possible and your diet
I am grouping these two reasons together because they are almost common knowledge and I am sure you can find these tips on pretty much every list out there on this topic. There is also tons of literature on these, I could not possibly do them justice in one post.
Nurse as much as possible. Keep in mind, the more milk your body produces, the more milk you will pump out, the larger your supply when you go back to work. Or if you are already working, whenever you are with your baby
The more you nurse, the more you produce, that is the truth. On days my daughter was cluster feeding, which is when your baby nurses nonstop, my milk production went through the roof. My breasts would fill up fast. So if you want to get that production up, nurse as often as you possibly can.
Then there are things you can consume to increase your production such as Gatorade, steel oats, lactation cookies, and flaxseed. Also, drink as much water as you possibly can. I recommend drinking water before, during and after
Some women have less milk production, some women take longer to
Do not make your life harder trying to achieve something that your body may just not be able to accomplish.
And most of all do not feel guilty about it.
Just reading this post and researching the topic means you are a great mother trying to do the best for your family. Your baby is lucky to have you in his or her life, so keep moving forward mamas and future mamas! Know other women are here rooting for you and will be here to support you, no matter what the outcome.
Do you have a tip you want to tell the world? Let me know, I will share it. Or comment below, I want to hear from you. For more reading on breastfeeding check out these two articles: