One of the most frequently asked questions that is asked when I am teaching a breastfeeding class is, "when should I introduce the bottle since I have to go back to work?" or "when do I start pumping when I have to go back to work?". Breastfeeding, pumping, and working seems like it will be completely overwhelming to new moms, but it doesn't have to be. Learning how and when to pump can happen gradually and doesn't have to cause you anxiety.
Here are some of my tips for moms who will have to go back to work:
1. Establish the breastfeeding relationship with your baby first. It is more important to learn how to breastfeed and then worry about pumping.
2. Introduce the bottle after three good weeks of breastfeeding (if the first week sucks, then three weeks after you and baby got the hang of it).
3. When you do start pumping, try pumping in the morning when your milk supply is at its peak. Breastfeed the baby first and then pump the remaining milk. Add in pumping sessions throughout the day and eventually you will start making enough milk to store in the fridge and freezer.
4. Feed your baby from the bottle at least once a day so he/she gets used to bottle feeding.
5. Let the baby lead the feeding by holding baby more upright with the bottle at a 45 degree angle. Encourage her natural breastfeeding instincts (rooting, flanged lips, switching arms, etc.)
6. If your baby won't take the bottle from you (mom), allow someone else to offer him the bottle.
7. Pump when you can at work. It doesn't have to be when your baby would eat. Take advantage of your "pumportunities"!
How and when do all these things occur? Here is an action plan from the Informed Birth Choices Baby Basics class that I teach.
For more information on pumping, breastfeeding, and returning to work here is a great webinar: