Monday 1 October 2012

Back To Work and Not Enough Expressed Milk?

So you've returned to work and you are expressing your breastmilk.  Only problem is that you are going through your freezer milk stash lightening fast and you're concerned that you cannot keep up with the demand.  You don't want to introduce formula, what can you do?

Using your freezer stash is a sure fire way of telling that something is amiss.  Your first day back at work is the day that you use milk from your stash.  During your first day at work you should express at least enough for day two and so on.
  1. Read my last post about bottle feeding a breast fed baby.  It is very common for a breastfed baby to take more from a bottle because the carer is using a typical bottle feeding technique.
  2. Freezing your expressed milk in smaller portions will reduce the possibility that milk will be thrown away at the end of a feed.  Freeze your milk in 1-3oz portions so that additional ounzes can be added quickly if more is needed.
  3. Have a frank discussion with your childs carer about normal breastfed infant behaviour.  Choose a carer who is happy to respond to your childs needs in a way that you would like (I found that some carers respond to crying with a bottle, but my son was usually just bored).
If you are happy that these have been addressed then here are some ways to ramp up your expressing schedule. 

Find some time at work to express an additional time to increase your supply and output.  You could do this in a number of ways;
  • Arrive early or leave a little late.
  • Pump at the beginning of your lunch break AND at the end .
  • If you are expressing one breast at a time, think about expressing both using an electric pump.
Consider renting a hospital grade electric breastpump to make sure that you are using the most effective equipment (find what works best for you, for some hand expressing is the most effective).  Check the flanges on the pump to make sure they are not rubbing and are the right size for you, you may need to change them after a few months so keep any eye on that (I went from 27mm to 29mm through my pumping career).

Express milk at home when baby goes to bed or over the weekend.  If you can express between 1am and 5am you can take advantage of your milk making hormone levels being high.  Pumping in the morning can yield larger amounts of milk.

Give your supply a boost by completing a power hour every day for a week.  Choose a 1 hour tv show with commercials.  Pump or express during every commercial using the same equipment.

Consider moving your baby closer to your place of employment so that you can feed right before work and right after work, and also have the option of nursing at lunch.  I did this with my son which meant I pumped less (in a 10 hour work day I usually pumped 2-3 times in addition to the lunch feed).

Use your hands to remove as much milk as possible with each expression.  Massage your breasts before you express to help with let-down, massage your breasts during expression to help move the milk towards the nipple, and then continue to hand express after you have finished pumping to make sure you've got everything possible and to increase stimulation of the breast.

As always,  stay well hydrated and remember to eat.  Taking a multi-vitamin probably wouldn't hurt either.

Pumping when back at work can be hard to do, both emotionally and physically.  You need to make it a priority and make an effort to pump when you need to.  Your work has to take a little bit of a step back and balancing a baby, work and pumping can be challenging.  I was very lucky when I returned to work that my employers were very encouraging and accomodating.  I was able to pump in my own office and I pumped at many work meetings and functions.  I think my next post wil be about finding places to pump at work and all that goes with that.

For many reasons that I won't go into right now, I only pumped one breast at a time when I returned to work.  This made it possible for me to make phone calls and check emails while pumping (not recommended and not the reason for it).  Double pumping takes less time and can yield more milk but can take both hands to achieve.  One item that makes it easier to double pump and still read a good book or magazine is a hands free pumping bra from Simple Wishes.  It is a bustier than holds the flanges in place so that you don't have to.

When pumping at work I would wear a loose fitting top and lift it up to pump.  The top then draped over the pump and nothing much showed.  Wearing a nursing vest made sure that noone could see my stretch marks.  Nursing vests are a really versatile nursing garments which can be used as as an additional bra as they have a built-in support shelf (save on laundry), but can also be worn on their own in hot weather.  They look great under blouses and see-through tops, and can also be worn in bed for easy access for nursing at night.  Emma-Jane make a selection of nursing vests for every occasion.  There are long vests for taller gals or with leggings which can be worn during pregnancy to cover bump.  There are also thicker fabrics that are warmer to wear and the thicker white lets nothing show through.  Take a look at the range of nursing vests available at BoobieMilk.

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