Let's try to make this transition as smooth as possible.
As many people know, the breast pump allows a mother to get back to work and other responsibilities while still allowing you to use breastmilk as the main source of sustenance for baby. This also enables both mother and baby to feel close close to each other even when they are apart. Most of the products on the market use the same technique to promote the release of milk. Flanges are attached to the breast and a tube runs from there to a bottle at the other end. Air travels through the tube simulating sucking, promoting the release of milk, which then travels into the storage container.
There are a range of reasons that mothers can be a little nervous about using a pump, so I'd like to walk through the common questions. The first thing you might not expect is that your milk supply can potentially drop a little bit when using a pump. Breast pumps are great and convenient, but they cannot replicate the special relationship that babies have with their mothers. Being aware of this you can prepare for the effects. When a baby is nursing at the breast certain hormones are naturally produced that aides in milk production and release. You will need to pump regularly at work, and I would advise that you work out a schedule before you return so that you do not feel stressed when you need to go and pump. New Jersey state law protects the breastfeeding mother and requires employers to allow pump breaks for breastfeeding mothers. Stress can also lead to a dip in milk supply, so having a plan can help you manage any anxiety you might have. You should also be aware that there are herbal supplements that help if your milk supply dips, though I don't recommend using these until they become necessary.
Make sure you are drinking water and eating at regular intervals. Staying hydrated and snacking helps breastfeeding in general, as milk is 90% water and you burn hundreds of calories each day making milk. In addition, you should also keep your pumping frequency regular. It is important that your boss/coworkers know that you will be pumping at regular intervals and it is your right to inform them about how you plan to pump. If people understand your plans up front about pumping are much more likely to understand and honor your commitment. Try pumping consistently after every three hours of work.
When you return home and see baby at the end of the day, it is a great idea to breastfeed right away. This helps to restore the bond after being away from your baby and also helps to boost your milk supply. If you communicate with your caregiver to stop feeding 2 hours or so before you return, this can allow you to come home a feed right away, which will bring comfort to both of you.
Lastly, do not underestimate the importance of the environment in which you are doing your pumping. New Jersey state law, also requires workplaces to give you a room you can pump in (NEVER a bathroom). If it is not the most inviting room to be in and I recommend you suggest ways to make it more comfortable. If there may be a possibility of other working mothers who breastfeed, you may even be able to create a nursing/pumping room. Mothers can bring in items to make the room cozy if your employer does not have the budget for it. Consider these items:
- Cushioned chair or glider
- Storage shelf or cabinet
- Breastfeeding pillow
- Small Table
- Foot Stool
Pumping is an amazing tool for returning to work and getting back to your commitments. It lets you return to a manageable schedule while still letting your baby have the best source of nutrition available. I have pumped and returned to work and or school after each of my children. Please feel free to contact me so I may help you start a pumping routine.