“When I pump milk at home I can pump only a little bit. What if I can’t pump enough milk when I’m back at work?”
Don’t panic if you get only a small amount of milk the first few times you pump. Many a mother has gotten out her pump to start stockpiling milk for her return to work and has managed to pump only a half-ounce (or even less). If more attempts turn out the same way and you begin to feel worried about your plans for working and breastfeeding, here are some good reasons not to worry.
- Don’t worry that your baby is not getting enough to eat.
Your body does not respond to a pump the way it responds to your sweet, lovely baby whom you love more than anything. Plus, your baby is much better at getting milk out of your breasts than the mechanical pump. (Check the signs listed under Getting Enough Milk if you are concerned about your baby’s intake at the breast.)
- Don’t worry that you won’t be able to pump enough milk when you’re separated from your baby.
When you squeeze pumping sessions in between nursings, there just may not be much milk in your breasts to pump. When you’re at work and it’s been two-and-a-half or three hours since you’ve fed your baby, the milk will be there, and it will come out.
- Your milk ejection reflex will eventually become conditioned to the pump.
Right now, your milk lets down after your baby sucks for a little while, or maybe in anticipation of your baby sucking. Your body will soon learn to react in a similar way to the pump and the routine that surrounds pumping.
How can I pump more milk?
Constantly calculating whether you’ve left enough milk for your baby is stressful, especially if there’s not much milk in your refrigerator or freezer to beging with. If you’re having trouble staying ahead of your baby’s appetitite, try these strategies for pumping more milk.
- Pump more frequently during the work day.
Finding time for one more pumping session will help your breasts produce more milk. Pumping more often is more effective at keeping your milk supply up than pumping longer. Three 20-minute pumping sessions will produce more milk than two 30-minute sessions.
- Get up earlier and pump once in the early morning, before you leave for work. Prolactin levels increase during the night, and most mothers have lots of milk when they wake up.
- Think about your baby while you pump.
Imagine your baby at your breast, filling his tummy with your warm, sweet milk. Call the caregiver for a report on what baby is doing before you pump so that you feel more in touch.
- Visualize fountains of milk while you pump, or imagine yourself beside a flowing stream or on a warm beach.
- Breastfeed your baby frequently when you are together.
Make breastfeeding a priority in the evening and on weekends. Don’t give a bottle when you can nurse your baby directly.
- Pump once or twice a day even when you are with your baby full-time.
This can help build up your supply for the days when you’re relying on the pump alone for breast stimulation.
- If your baby seems to be demanding more milk at the caregiver’s than you can pump, consider whether he truly needs more nourishment or if he just needs more sucking. Breastfed babies may finish a bottle quickly, but may still need to suck for comfort. Baby will take more milk if it’s offered, but might also accept a pacifier or another kind of comforting. Consider this possibility with your caregiver.