The last several years have seen major strides for working moms who breastfeed. Workplaces are now more supportive of breastfeeding, and the issue has received much more global awareness. The next step is to now provide some helpful, practical directions to moms on just how they can go about stockpiling their milk supplies.
Get yourself a quality breast pump
The first thing any mom will need is a quality double electric pump. The Affordable Care Act requires that all women have access to a breast pump through their insurance. Make sure the one you get is of good quality, with proper-fitting flanges and pump pressure that is not too high or too low. You can check with a lactation consulting if you’re unsure. The trouble with going cheap on a pump is that the lesser-quality ones often don’t empty the breast completely, which makes it tougher to keep your supply high.
When to pump
You’ll want to start pumping a couple of weeks before returning to work. Good times to do it can be between nursing sessions or right after the baby nurses. On average, women pump maybe 1 ounce total after a nursing session, but you can gradually build up enough milk in the fridge/freezer that will last you at least the workday.
Freezing breast milk
Remember, milk should go into the freezer within 24 hours of pumping to assure freshness and safety. Once it comes out of the freezer and completely thaws, it expires in 24 hours. It can last in the fridge for five days after pumping, then will have to be thrown away.
And don’t forget
Drinking plenty of liquids and eating a balanced diet with enough calories to help the body make milk — 500 more calories/day than the average woman — is also important. Having a hands-free pumping bra is also very helpful, allowing you to massage your breasts to make sure they get properly emptied. And of course it also lets you relax, which is always important.
Providing breast milk is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your baby! Keep in mind that any amount you can supply is a “bonus,” so just do the best you can and enjoy your baby!
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin has board-certified lactation consultants who support breastfeeding mothers. Our lactation consultants focus on supporting mothers in providing breast milk to their babies through breastfeeding and expression (removing milk from their breasts). They also provide educational and support services to families and staff.
Learn more about Linda McNamara, RN, BS, IBCLC.