By Adrienne Koznek, IBCLC
I recently held a webinar about breastfeeding and returning to work outside the home. So many families have to juggle breastfeeding, pumping, storing, and giving breast milk to their babies sooner than they would like. My hope is that by having information and support, families can continue their breastfeeding relationship while going to work or school.
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months, then introducing appropriate solid foods while continuing to breastfeed for 2 years or beyond. Unfortunately, in the United States breastfeeding rates drop significantly at 3 months. According to the CDC’s breastfeeding report card, 81.1% of babies start out being breastfed, and by 3 months the number is 44.4% . I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this is usually around the time breastfeeding parents are returning to their jobs after maternity leave. This is a prime example of how frustrating it is to have such abysmal parental leave here. So in the meantime, let me help you strategize ways to make breastfeeding work for you!
How much milk does my baby need?
A good general rule to follow is for every hour you’re away, leave 1 ounce. For example, if you have an 8 hour work day and 1 hour of commuting time, you’ll want to leave roughly 9 ounces of breast milk with your caregiver. Babies generally eat about 2-4 ounces per feeding, depending on their age. Talk to your caregiver about paced bottle feeding! Paced bottle feeding ensures baby is not being overfed and keeps the caregiver from burning through your precious milk stash. Check out my blog post about PBF here.
How often should I pump when I’m at work?
Generally you should aim for about every 3 hours. Going longer than that puts you at risk for mastitis (breast infection) and/or reducing your milk supply. Employers are required to provide time and space for you to express breast milk. Information about laws can be found here.
Do I need to wash my pump parts every time I pump?
No. A quick rinse will suffice. If you are in a space that has a reasonable room temperature (around 70 degrees) you can even leave them out. Breastmilk is good at room temperature for 5-6 hours. Save yourself some time and wash your pump parts in warm, soapy water at the end of the day.
How should I store my breast milk?
If you can’t store your milk in a fridge, a cooler bag with a blue ice pack keeps your milk cold. It can be stored with the ice pack for up to 24 hours. Breast milk can be stored for up to 5 days in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer (1 year in a deep freezer). I recommend storing the milk in small increments (2-3 ounces) so you don’t risk wasting any.
What if I’m not pumping enough milk?
See an IBCLC! Don’t panic. This can be resolved. I’m happy to provide a consult to answer questions about pumping enough breast milk. Increasing milk supply is highly individualized, so it is important to discuss options with a lactation professional to optimize your efforts and avoid any health issues. I can help you reach your goals!
For more information and answers to even more questions, please check out the recording of my back to work pumping webinar.
Schedule a full consultation with me here: