Some moms welcome heading back to work and others struggle with the process. Mothers experience a wide range of emotions and concerns when their maternity leave comes to an end. We have some tips that might help ease you into your transition.
A baby’s milk consumption affects more than just their weight. It can also influence their sleeping patterns. We are working towards well rounded, healthy little ones.
PREPARE YOUR MILK STASH
Your freezer milk stash will be important to start building up during your maternity leave. As long as your baby is growing well and is maintaining a healthy weight, you can begin saving extra milk.
It is best to begin pumping for your stash at around week 2 or 3. Moms should start with introducing one extra pumping session to their day until their body adjusts to the new milk demand. You are best off pumping after your first morning feeding of the day because this is when you have the highest milk supply. Milk production is a demand and supply relationship. Once your body adjusts to the new demand and is producing more, you can do an additional pumping session later in the day.
MAKE SURE YOUR BABY IS COMFORTABLE TAKING A BOTTLE
One might assume that taking a bottle comes naturally to a baby. This isn’t always the case. Just like how many moms have to work hard to train their baby to nurse effectively and efficiently, the same goes for using a bottle. We recommend waiting until week 3 or 4 to introduce a bottle for nursing moms. This provides time for the baby to establish a habit of nursing rather than preferring the faster flow of a bottle. Waiting to introduce a bottle past week 4 can create the challenge of the baby only wanting the breast though.
When introducing bottles, make sure you begin with a slow flow or level one nipple. As your baby grows and eats more, you will increase the flow on the bottle by upgrading the nipples. You want to try to match the flow of milk from your breast to the flow of milk from the bottle nipple.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT PACED BOTTLE FEEDING
Paced bottle feeding is a bottle feeding style that mimics breastfeeding. It allows your baby to pace the rate at which they are consuming milk. Both baby and mom benefit from this technique because it makes it easier to switch back and forth during the day between bottle feeding and breastfeeding.
PUMP WHEN YOU ARE AWAY FROM HOME
You should pump at least every 4 hours through your workday. This will help ensure that your milk supply stays at the level that it needs to be at. During your maternity leave, take note of the amount of time between feedings/when feedings occur. Try to pump at similar times when you are at work.
If you are finding it difficult to pump at work due to stress or separation, bring something that makes you think of your baby. Holding and smelling an article of their clothing, blanket or stuffie as well as looking at pictures of your little one can help your body relax. These things will help you produce oxytocin which is necessary for successful production.
PRACTICE PROPER SANITATION AND STORAGE OF MILK
Remember to store your pumped milk right away in a sealed container. You can keep milk on the counter for up to 4 hours. You can keep it in the fridge for up to 4 days. If it is not consumed in those 4 days, you can transfer it to the freezer. Milk can be frozen for up to 9 months. Always clean your pump parts after each session and sanitize them at the end of your day.
TRY TO EASE BACK INTO WORK
We know this isn’t always possible but if you are able to build your hours up to your normal 40 to 40 plus hour work week, you should. This will create an opportunity that allows you and baby to gradually adjust to the new schedule and shift in feeding practices.