How can I be sure I will make enough milk?
When you are separated from your baby during the workday and can not follow his cues for feeding, you need to give some attention to keeping up your milk supply. Here are some ideas to insure that you have ample milk for your baby, even if you are apart during working hours.
During the work week, squeeze in as many breastfeedings as you can. Most employed mothers can get in at least four breastfeedings during the usual workday — one morning feeding before work, an after-work feeding, an after-dinner feeding, and a before-bed feeding. If you set your alarm early, you may be able to squeeze in an additional feeding in the early morning hours. Offer the breast frequently in the evening.
If possible, breastfeed your baby during lunch and coffee breaks, cutting down on, or eliminating, the need to express milk and give bottles. On-site day care or choosing a caregiver near your work can make this possible.
Don’t skip pumping sessions. Even if you have only a few minutes, it’s better to pump for a short time than to put off pumping till later. It’s the frequency, not the length, of pumping sessions that stimulates your body to produce milk.
Breastfeed full-time whenever you’re not at work. In order to maintain and build up your milk supply, you need to have days when you breastfeed frequently, to make up for the times when you and baby are separated. Try to adopt the policy that baby is given a bottle only while you are at work or away from baby, but is exclusively breastfed when in your care. This will build up a good milk supply and keep the two of you connected.
Don’t give bottles when you can breastfeed. Pumping does not stimulate the breasts to produce milk as well as a nursing baby does. You need to breastfeed your baby often during the time you are together in order to keep up your milk supply and insure that your baby stays interested in the breast.
Minimize separations from your baby. Now is not the time to plan regular nights out, where you leave your baby with a sitter for four or five hours and go out to a movie and dinner. (But pick a nice, quiet movie and baby can go along – even join your dinner outing.)
Use weekends to make up for lost time at the breast. Many mothers who work the usual Monday-through-Friday, five-day work week, find the amount they are able to pump dwindles toward the end of the week. After nursing frequently all weekend their breasts feel much fuller on Monday and they’re able to pump more milk and may even need to express more often to avoid uncomfortable engorgement. (Save this milk for later in the week, when your milk supply may be running low.)
Enjoy nighttime nursing. Breastfed babies who are away from their mothers during the day make up for what they’ve missed by breastfeeding often during the evening. After mother returns to work, some babies reverse their daily patterns by sleeping more and feeding less during the day and then clustering their feedings during the night. This is actually a good thing, and mothers who succeed at combining breastfeeding and working recognize this and even welcome it. They bring their babies into their bed so that they can nurse at night without waking up completely, and they treasure this extra opportunity for closeness. (Working fathers like it, too.) In fact, many mothers report that they sleep better with their babies next to them, even if that means baby nurses through the night.