Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Back to work and pumping, but is my supply okay?

Alexander's mom just went back to work - he's 3 months old and staying at home with his wonderful Au Pair, and is happily drinking breast milk his mom has pumped for him. She had a concern though, that Alexander has had a growth spurt, and is drinking more than she's pumping during the day. Also, her pump suddenly seems to have less suction. Here's my reply!

Hi Alexander's Mom!

In regards to your pump not working as well: First, replace the little white plastic flanges in your pump's attachments. There should be replacements with your kit or you can order them from the pump's manufacturer. It seems silly that something so small can make such a difference, but it really can. Also, I'd look at the insert for the pump - there's probably a troubleshooting guide. Play around with the settings for suction and speed that your pump is at. Alexander is now bigger and is also sucking differently, so that can make a difference too.

In regards to your supply, the more stress for you the less milk you make. Stress can here be defined as "doing anything but being with my baby". Make sure you're getting the sleep you can at night, and getting good support. Do you know other moms you can talk to who have done the same thing? Just knowing you're in the same boat with others can help.

When pumping, have photos of him around you, and gaze at them while pumping. You can also call and talk to him on the phone, keep a blanket of his nearby that smells like him, call your husband and talk about him, or think of other things that help you feel connected to him while you're pumping. Also, putting some warmth on your breasts before pumping can help too - heating a towel in the microwave and applying it for 10 minutes before pumping can help simulate his presence on you. Doing breast massage can help also.

Drink more water than you can imagine, and eat more - snacking on high protein foods at work can be a great help. making enough breastmilk can take a lot of calories -now is not the time to cut back to lose weight. Focus on eating healthfully rather than low calorie. If you're hungry, eat!

Since worrying that he doesn't have enough milk during the day won't help you make more milk, consider having a "just in case" substitute in the house. There are great organic formulas nowdays, and you can also look into "goat milk formula" which can be used as a supplement at 6 months, though I know families who used it at their discretion and only in combination with breast milk earlier.


Know that if he is given a supplement, it takes a few days at least for his body to get used to it - he'll probably have a bit of constipation and gassy belly. Doing it in combination with breast milk will really help.

Don't choose soy unless all other options are exhausted - it's the most highly processed and unlike mother's milk possible.

I know it's hard being away from Alexander during the day. Take care of your emotional self during this transition. Expect to feel sad, grieving the loss of the time you spent with him 24/7. Expect to feel angry at having to work, even if it's a choice you've made. Expect to feel scared that he might not be okay, and you won't be there for him, even though you know he's safe with his childcare person. Expect too to feel happy and glad that you get this time to yourself - that you feel valuable as an intelligent person in the workplace and that you do love the work you do. Anything you feel is okay.

Big hug!