Baby Settler Blog
Pumping. Part Four. What Does Real Life Look Like?
First things first
If you don’t have an indication to pump right after birth, i.e.: baby born before 38 weeks, admission to NICU, history of low milk supply, jaundiced baby, infant weight loss of 10%, postpartum hemorrhage, nipple shield use, baby requires supplementation, history of PCOS…to name a few, I recommend you wait to start pumping until you are at least two weeks postpartum. Why? Because during the first two weeks postpartum, you’re in the transition stage of breastmilk production. Feeding on cue is going to help your supply be in tune with what your baby needs. And YOU don’t need an extra job. Pumping can be a chore. You are already feeding every 2-3 hours around the clock. You need to rest. So, don’t be tempted. Wait until that two-week mark to start building your stash.
Two Weeks Postpartum
Once you are two weeks postpartum, I’d recommend plan to pump after one of your morning feedings. The goal is to breastfeed, burp your baby, lay your baby next to you, and pump. You want to pump within 15 minutes of your baby feeding at the breast. We want your body to get the message that you need “a little more” at this feeding. If you make this part of your daily routine, you will get an extra 2 to 4 ounces to throw in your freezer to use at a later date. It takes about three days for your body to get the message you send it today. Stick with it. Make it part of your daily routine. Maybe you take Saturday’s off. Otherwise, you’ve got your pump on your bedside table ready to go each morning after that first or second AM feeding.
NOTE: Date and timestamp your stash bag. There is initial evidence that shows your milk at certain times of day contains specific nutrients for baby. So, if you can, you’ll give baby that frozen AM bag at the AM feeding.
This is what my Breastfeeding routine looked like.
Breastfeed at 6 A.M. Baby back to sleep by 7:00 A.M. for the first morning nap. I got up with my other two kids and got them ready for the day. By the 9:00 A.M. feeding my toddler would be playing quietly in his room (let’s be real here…he’d actually be sitting in front of the TV watching Cocomelon) and I would breastfeed, burp, kisses, make funny faces and talk in my baby voice for a few minutes…then I’d put Ruth down next to me on the bed, hook up to the pump…and pump for 15 minutes. I’d take that milk and throw it in the freezer for a rainy day! (The days I worked!)
Let’s do Some Math.
You don’t need to pump multiple times per day to build a stash. If you’ve got 8 weeks of maternity leave you’ve got 6 weeks to build your stash when you start at 2 weeks postpartum. That’s approximately 42 days and we multiply that by 2 to 4 ounces per day. You’ll have between 84 and 168 ounces in your freezer by the time you return to work if you use this method. That will give you between 21 and 42, four-ounce bottles. And you’ll still be pumping when you’re away from your baby. So, you will keep adding to the freezer stash.
Returning to Work.
Okay. The pumping routine you want to use when you return to work. It’s ideal to pump around the same time your baby takes a bottle. However, you do have a little wiggle room. The ultimate goal is to pump the number of times equal to the number of bottles your baby is getting when your away from her. Let’s look at my day as a nurse working a 12-hour shift at the hospital.
Let me preface by saying Ruth was sleeping from 6:45pm to 6:30 am when I returned to work. I live 45 minutes from the hospital I work. So, I had to leave the house in the morning by 6:15 am. I wasn’t able to breastfeed her before I left for work. I DO recommend you breastfeed in the mornings IF you can. However, that didn’t work for me. Here’s what my work day looked like…
- 5:20 am wake up/shower
- 5:55 am Pump *When I pumped at this session, I would get about 8 to 10 ounces. Ruth was not breastfeeding for her anchor feed on the mornings I would work.*
- 6:30 AM Ruth would take an 8-ounce bottle. This is the ONLY time she would ever take this much out of a bottle.
- Sometime between 9:00-10:00 am I would pump at work, and I would usually get between 5 to 6 ounces. Remember, labor nurse here. I couldn’t always pump at the time I wanted to. It’s not like I could say, “Do you mind if we wait to push and have your baby? I need to go pump.”
- 9:30-10:00 Ruth would take a 5 to 6 ounce bottle
- Sometime between 12:00-1:00 pm I would pump. Again, it depended what I had going on at work. I would usually get between 4 to 5 ounces at this pump session.
- Ruth would take a bottle of about 4 ounces around 12:00 pm
- Ruth would take a bottle of about 3 to 4 ounces around 3:00pm.
On the Days I Worked
I wasn’t able to pump an extra time for Ruth’s extra 3pm bottle. Let me show you how I worked this out…
- Sometime between 4:00-5:00 pm I would pump. This was the least amount of milk I’d pump. Sometimes only 2 ounces.
- Ruth’s next bottle would be around 5:00pm. This bottle was usually only 2 ounces.
Since I technically didn’t pump for Ruth’s 3pm bottle, after I finished my handoff, I would go pump for 10 minutes before I left to drive home. You could also do this in the car if you had the right pump. It was a quick pump, and I never got a lot of milk, but it was the stimulation that I needed. I needed those spikes in hormones so that it didn’t affect my supply… by that I mean, since Ruth was getting an extra bottle at 3pm, I needed an extra time of stimulation/hormone spike!
- Ruth’s next bottle would be her last bottle of the day around 6:30pm. She would take about 3 to 4 ounces. She would be asleep for the night when I got home. I missed seeing her, but we BOTH loved our sleep! I tried not to work two days in a row very often.
- Before bed, around 8:30pm, I would do my final pump session for the day. I would pump about 3 to 5 ounces depending on the day!
Let me say this. I’m not sharing this schedule to stress you or overwhelm you. Hopefully seeing this is helpful to you! There is support to help you figure out the best routine for you and your baby. A Baby Settler consult. If you’d like more 1:1 support with figuring out how to navigate pumping, returning to work, and your baby’s schedule, I’d love to support you with a consult! Don’t hesitate to reach out.
You’ve got this Mama!
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