I’ve never been a super pumper. I’ve diligently pumped three times a day at work for the last 8 months. I’ve almost always made just enough for the next day of feedings. Sometimes I’ve even had a conservative stash in the freezer for low pump days or when my husband and I want to go out. There are definitely times when I have to work on my supply to keep it up enough to feed my daughter. Oatmeal for breakfast, teas at lunch, a Guinness with dinner, more tea before bed. Pump. Breast massage. Pump. Repeat. It’s exhausting. Especially since my uninvited monthly visitor has me with a low supply. As I come up on my daughters first birthday, I’m torn. Continue the schedule I’m on with the highs and lows of constant pumping? Drop the pumping and only breastfed when I’m home and offer something else while I’m gone? Or gradually wean all together? The professional side of me (the crunchy, granola, die hard side) says, “Stick it out!!! It’s not that bad!! Breast is best!!! Your baby needs your milk!!! Show your boobs who’s boss.” While the personal side of me screams, “Screw it! You’re working so hard! Give yourself a break. You went a whole year. You did the best you could with the support you had. Some other milk won’t kill your kid. She’s eating like a champ and she won’t even notice.” I get it now. I understand why some moms give up breastfeeding, especially working moms. I also get why mom’s push through and keep going. We all just want the best for our babies. I’m still on the fence. We’re T minus 1 month to the big one year birthday. I’ll keep you posted on what I decide. But for now, Happy Pumping!!
Babies are the best pump. They empty the breast better than either hand expression, manual or electric pumps. Even as the most efficient pump, babies never completely empty the breast. Breasts work on what could be called the “80:20 concept.” The 80 percent is the average amount of milk removed by your baby each day. The 20 percent is the residual amount of milk that remains in your breasts. If more than 80 percent of the milk is removed, supply increases to maintain the 80-20 ratio. If less than 80 percent is removed, supply decreases to maintain the 80-20 ratio. Even though this is an over-simplification of a very complex process, as new research emerges this core principle proves true.
Everyday is a new day with its own stresses and joys. The more we can take time to enjoy each day, the less we are prone to worry and stress, the better it is for our overall health as well as our milk supply. The past few days I have been working in the neonatal intensive care unit at my hospital. It is my favorite place to work. I love coming alongside mommies and their new babies and helping them feed them in their most critical time. My job on the acute floors can sometimes be stressful. I am helping elderly patients and families make end-of-life decisions. I assess patients feeding skills and decide if the patients can still eat and the options they have for nutrition and hydration. This definitely impacts my milk supply. I always see more of my own milk when working in NICU. Of course when some of those hungry babies cry I can occasionally feel my mommy hormones stimulating my own letdown. Where is your happy place? Have you noticed certain aspects of your environment or work impacting your milk supply? Where do you find your peace when pumping? This really does make a big difference. Happy Pumping!!
It finally came!! My Mrs. Patel’s mothers milk tea!!! I’ve used the grocery store brand but it didn’t really seem to have a big impact on my supply. In researching teas, I came across this brand. They’re Milk Water tea comes in two tasty flavors : herbal and Chai. The Chai has an amazing sweet taste and when I drink a cup consistently at night I do see an increase in milk the next morning. I just got the herbal blend and am so excited to try it!!! Check out the website here. Take note, the shipping is expensive, so if you have a friend or two who are also nursing it will help distribute the shipping costs.
Unfortunately breasts do not come with markers on them. When you are an exclusively breast-feeding mom you never really know how much your baby is getting. We teach in lactation to watch for the signs that tell you your baby is getting enough milk. You look at swallowing patterns, wet diapers, and the overall health and weight gain of your baby. When you are pumping mom though, we are meticulous in knowing how much milk comes out of our tatas. Have you ever actually stopped and looked at that milk? I’m sure you have. I’m sure you analyze every drop that comes out of your body. Did you know that the left and right breast can make different amounts of milk? One research study found that stereotypically moms always make more milk out of the right breast. Which is interesting in light of the fact that most women have a slightly larger left breast. (Click on text to read the research articles) It really goes to show that size does not matter for production. Size is related to fat in the breast tissue and not the actual glandular tissue that produces milk. I love breastfeeding. And I try really hard to rotate which side I start on when I’m breast-feeding my daughter. When I am at work or use a double pump to pump both of the girls at the same time. It has been always consistent for me. My right always make slightly more than my left. Usually not very much more, but enough to be noticeable. And science still doesn’t really know why!! Oh, our fascinating bodies!!! Happy Pumping!!!
Us pumping mamas tend to freak out about how much we pump. Can I get an amen?!? When our supply drops we freak the freaky freak out. But what if we weren’t pumping. Would we actually notice any of these drops, or what our babies just happily do what they do and not even give us education that something has changed? Would we even have periods because we would be exclusively nursing And supply changeseould be a non issue? Yesterday I took my deep breaths and talked myself off the “I have no milk” ledge. Today my period is officially over. And low and behold my milk supply is back up. Remember, hormones do funny things to our bodies. Do what you can but don’t freak out over every little change. Stay the course. Love yourself. Love your body.
More specifically, having a period because you’re a woman sucks. Not only are there mood swings and cramps to deal with, there’s also my monthly dip in milk production. Time to make some lactation cookies with extra chocolate chips and a cup of Mrs. Patel’s Milk Water Chai Tea. At least my daughter hasn’t seemed to notice. I was with her the past four days on a mini vacation and she’s been more interested in eating off my plate than my chest. Today I went back to work and knew it would be a lower volume day. Although I always note thamy the milk I pump during my period is a little creamier and more fat sticks to the sides of the bottle. I hope showing these pictures encourages you that is OK to have high and low volume days and not get discouraged. Love your body. Love the process. Worry and stress don’t help anything. Keep eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, taking your prenatal vitamins and taking supplements as needed. Happy pumping!
I’m sure every workplace has their own unique style of pumping room. It is a place of sanctuary and safety for many nursing moms during the day. At the hospital where I work, we have an employee lactation room on the first floor. Inside are two somewhat comfortable chairs, each with its own table, two curtains to separate them, and a sink. We are actually very blessed to be in a baby friendly hospital where they at least attempt to take care of their breast-feeding moms. I have read about pumping room horror stories, though, of “pump rooms” that are nothing more then broom closets or electrical rooms with folding chairs. The law states that all employers must provide a non-bathroom room for breast-feeding employees. But their definition of “non-bathroom” is occasionally taken liberally. The room in which you pump can definitely impact your milk output. If the room you are in makes you stressed, you will see a decrease in milk production. If you are in a calm environment and don’t feel rushed, your milk will have a higher chance of letting down. Do you whatever you need to do to make your pump room as comfortable as possible. Make sure to surround yourself with plenty of pictures of your baby and since it is your break, if you can FaceTime or Skype your baby.
I do have a funny story about my work pump room. The tables are older and one of them had a broken table leg. The table looked like it was going to collapse at any second. I put in a complaint through the proper chains. I came in the next day and the table was gone. But the two chairs were facing each other with the table in the middle as if anyone pumping at the same time would have a pump off! I don’t Think the maintenance department quite understood the purpose of the room 🙂 with a quick phone call to HR we were able to get a second table and move the chairs back to the proper positions. What are your funny pump room stories? Feel free to share your pump room pictures.
I’m a lactation consultant. I’m also a first time mother. My daughter will be nine months old next week. I went back to work when she was just twelve weeks old. I’ve been pumping since then. No one told me how much work that would actually be. Pumping while at work is literally a full time job in and of itself. For most moms that plan to continue breastfeeding after they go back to work, you need to plan to pump when you would typically feed your baby. Feed the baby or feed the pump. That’s how you keep up supply.
But that can be tricky when you’re working. I try to pump three times in an eight hour shift. Every two and a half to three hours. For ten to twenty minutes depending on my break. I’m typing this over my lunch break as hard plastic suction cups suck on my tender bits. It takes scheduling and planning. Some days are easier than others. Some days the milk flies better than others. The most important thing is to not give up and not get discouraged. In the end the benefits definitely far out weigh the risks. Like reducing my risk of breast cancer. Reducing the risk of allergies, eczema, respiratory and ear infections for my baby. Saving the environment from extra trash. Not to mention saving almost $3000 a year from formula costs. You definitely need to keep your goals and your humor about you to persevere.
This is a comparison of several days. My baby has always had enough. Every once in a while I will pump at night before bed to give me a little extra milk if I have a lower day. As you can see, first pump of the day (on the left) always gives me the highest amount with amounts dropping as the day goes on. That is normal for every mother whether she pumps or nurses.)
what have you found to be most helpful for keeping your supply up while pumping at work? Feel free to comment!!!