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Returning to Work, Need Pumping Info
By Jane Squires, RN, IBCLC

Janes SquiresQ. I am due with my second child in 6 weeks and will breastfeeding for the first time and returning to work in 8 weeks. I would like to know how soon I can start pumping? I want to make the back to work transition as easy as possible and also would like my husband to participate in feeding our baby. Also, when and how often do I need to pump once I get back to work? I will be renting a professional pump. How long should I or will I be able to breastfeed while working full time?

A. The longer you can stay home and breastfeed your baby exclusively, the better your milk supply will be when you get back to work.

As far as pumping is concerned there are no real hard and fast rules. I would recommend exclusive breastfeeding until you and your baby are comfortable with breastfeeding. This is usually 3-4 weeks. If during this time you feel overly full, it is ok to pump after baby has been fed. It is a good idea to get used to pumping before you get back to work, so you will know what is entailed. Don't expect too much the first few times, as the baby is the best pump.

Here's one recommendation that could work for you: It is not necessarily the one that will work best for you, but it is an idea.

Feed baby first thing in the morning. Wait for about an hour, and pump. Repeat after the baby has nursed the second time of the morning. That is when your milk supply is plentiful. If you start that after the mature milk is in (3-4 days), you should have enough milk for a couple of weeks, before you go back to work.

As far as pumping at work, you need to pump on the same schedule as your baby eats. Most women will pump once midmorning, and once midafternoon, for a short session (just enough to relieve the fullness). Then during the lunchbreak, pump for a full 15 minutes, using the double pump. When you are pumping just enough to relieve the fullness, it is because the baby won't be nursing during these times, while you are at work, but you are still stimulating the breasts, so they will continue to produce.

So that would be three pumpings during the day.

How long can you breastfeed once you return to work? You should be able to nurse as long as you want to when you return to work.

How can your husband help with the baby? Once the baby is nursing well, (again 3-4 weeks) your husband can start to give the baby a bottle of expressed breastmilk if he wishes. Don't put more than 2-3 ounces in at first until you know how much your baby will take. Also your husband can help by changing diapers,and feeding and nurturing you, so you will have energy for the baby.

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