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Welcome to the place where you can easily access TONS of FREE Breastfeeding information and GAIN valuable insight on best tips, how-to’s and “ need to know” about all things breastfeeding related.Please enjoy this All About Breastfeeding podcast with Lori Isenstadt, IBCLC Preparing to go back to work.

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Episode 62 Preparing to go back to work.

If you are like most new mothers, the transition from work to full time new motherhood is going to be pretty intense. It feels like just yesterday that you gave birth and your world was turned upside down and inside out. You have gone through this rite of passage that had this huge learning curve and the subject was new motherhood and breastfeeding. Now that you feel like you finally have your bearings, you take a look at the calendar and realize that it is getting close to your returning to work. Well, not exactly next week, but close enough that you are starting to think about pumping and storing your milk. Yes, another transition is going to be coming down the pike for you.

You are trying to figure out, how you can possibly begin to store milk for when you go back to work when you have a baby breastfeeding frequently throughout the day. Your head is spinning while you try and figure out how to satisfy your baby and pump extra to freeze. You are also getting way ahead of yourself and thinking about pumping at work. Where to pump? How do moms do this discreetly?

Well, you are in the right place and I am so glad you are here. This is a topic that is so important to mothers that I want to do it justice. This is a very common fork in the road for breastfeeding mothers who return to work. A lack of information and support is a common reason for moms to stop breastfeeding once they return to work. I don’t want that to happen to you. If you are determined, then I am determined to give you all the information you need to make this as smooth a transition as possible. I don’t want to give you just a few pointers and then send you on your way.

I want to give you as much “need to know” and “nice to know” information To do this topic justice, I know it would be way too long to bring it to you in 1 Episode so I have done the next best thing. Break it down into short doable chunks. This way you can not be overwhelmed with the information. I want to do the best job possible in helping you prepare for this next transition in your mothering life. If you are listening to this show while doing something else, don’t freak out! Each show will be accompanied with cheat sheets and handy checklists for you to download. I will have a wrap up at the end of each show, as well as handy checklists and charts for you to download.

You don’t need to take notes. All you will need to do is go to to find the Episode you are looking for. There you will find the show notes that will point you in the direction to download your checklists and Free handouts.

Here is the breakdown of this 5 Part Series.

Part 1 – The calendar says it is time to get busy – What you need to know to get started pumping and storing your milk.

Part 2 – Tips and tricks to make pumping as easy and convenient as possible.

Part 3 – Babies and Bottles and Day Care – Need to know for a smooth transition.

Part 4 – Tips and tricks to help you navigate pumping in the workplace.

Part 5 – Troubleshooting – This is going to be a great show with listeners participation. Send your questions to and I will read them on the air and answer your questions.

Okay, so let’s get going…

To start off with, staying home as long as possible will work in your favor. You quickly learn that as a mother, your new role often means thinking outside the box, being creative. And planning your return to work is no different.
Perhaps it is possible to stay home a little longer than you had initially planned. This give you More time to get use to breastfeeding, to get really good at it, to build a good supply and for you to recover from pregnancy and birth. Sometimes we need to do some adjusting, speak to our employers, if self-employed ask for some help. I have found that the reality is for some moms, is that their positions actually allow for them to return to work PT and gradually build themselves up to FT. This gives them a bit of a breather.

Perhaps start back to work on a Wednesday, so you don’t jump into a full packed week.
Perhaps start back to work with half days. Perhaps every other day. I have known some pretty determined moms who have taken this discussion to their employers andfound that they were much more amenable to being flexible than they ever would have thought.

For some mothers, they do not have this luxury and need to return to work sooner, rather than later. As you will see, there are quite a few variables, so the advice given is going to be a loose template in which you are going to need to refine it and make it your own.

These are the things you want to pay close attention to that I will be bringing up during this series. I find that they are not usually discussed but some really excellent tips to make your time spent here extremely worthwhile. So pay attention to when you hear the sirens going off! I am going to give you a hint right now as to the two topics you are going to hear sirens going off:

1. The last thing you want to do is become this Super Pumping Mama, pumping many times a day to pack your freezer with milk. I am going to caution you against doing this and I will tell you why a bit later in the show.

2. Check for Lipase before you freeze too many bags of milk. More on this later too!

First things first: What is your return to work day? Let’s say it is July 25th, 2016
Now put a big “X” on your calendar 3 weeks before your first day back at work.
So, this means you will be putting the “X” on July 4th.
The day with the BIG “X” is the day when you should start pumping.

My plan is for you to spend 14 days pumping and 7 days orientating your baby to the bottle.
If you baby has already been taking the bottle, this will leave you with more days to collect and store your milk.

Since there are a lot of unknowns, we can only estimate.
I like to over estimate which will result in you having more milk stored than perhaps not enough.

I would also like for you to spend the last few weeks at home, enjoying your baby and not turning into Super Pumping Mama. Which means, if you can get away with pumping once a day and collect enough milk, that is optimal. If not, you may need to pump twice a day.

I know of moms who pump many times a day. They are using up valuable time that I would rather them spend it being with your baby, napping, going for impromptu walks with your baby, healing from birth, have lunch with friends, dinner with family, just enjoy being home. When you are spending your maternity leave so distracted with multiple pumping sessions per day, When you return to work, you are exhausted and you HATE pumping.

The other problem is, that your body has now become use to all that milk removal. When you return to work, you may not be able to keep up the feeding/pumping, feeding/pumping, feeding/pumping routine. You will be lucky if you get to pump 3 times in the space when at home you had 6 milk removals. The result: Your breasts will be aching when you return to work, possibly become engorged and put you at risk for clogged ducts. I have helped many a mom who found herself in this position. How did she get there? She just didn’t know that the excessive pumping while home, may cause these problems when she got to work.

So, how much milk do you need to collect and store. Well, again, everyone will be different. Meaning..
how much milk will your baby take each feeding?
how many bottles will your baby need while you are away?
Again, since this is unknown, we can only guess.
You can begin to take note at how many breastfeedings your baby averages during the same time period when you will be away at work. Whatever that number is, add in 1 more feeding. Remember, we are over-estimating to ensure plenty of milk while you are gone.

On average, your baby will take between 3 and 4 oz for each bottle feeding, so let’s overthink and say 5 oz.
On average, you will be gone for 3 feedings if you work an average M-F 9-5 job. figuring in 1 hour each way travel time. We can say that you will be gone from your baby for about 10 hours. In that 10 hour period, your baby will more than likely take 3 bottles and perhaps 4, so we will over think this again and say 5 bottles.

So, the math continues. You will need 5 bottles per day and 5 oz each bottle.
This equals 25 oz.

Now remember, it may turn out that your baby only needs 3 bottles with 3 oz in each, so this would be 9 oz.
Or 4 bottles times 4 oz so this would be 16.
Are you beginning to see why it is hard to know?

Over estimating takes the anxiety and stress out of not having enough when you go back.
This will usually also enable you to put aside some milk for the 2nd day at work… nice to have extra for those times you might be running late or your baby was hungrier than usual.
The worst that happens is that you have a nice little stash in the freezer when you return to work.
And that is not so bad, right?

Once you return to work and give it a few weeks, you may see a pattern emerge with regards to
the amount of bottles and the volume your baby takes. This will make it easier for you to figure out how
much you need and in what increments to store it in.

Okay, so now that we have that part figured out, we can say the goal is to have 25 oz stored ( the higher end of our estimation)

If you pump once a day, for 14 days, and you collect 1 oz, this will give you 14 oz.
If you realize you are only able to collect 1 oz per pumping session, you now realize you will need to pump twice a day.
2 oz in 14 days – 28 oz
Now you have your 25 oz.
Are you starting to see how this whole thing works?

Now, the next question you might ask is, well, when do I pump if I am always breastfeeding and the feeding times are unpredictable?

Aha! Glad to answer this question.

You will find out how your body works, however, most mothers will say they have more milk “leftover” after a breastfeeding, in the earlier part of the day, then as the day goes on.

So, you always want to feed your baby first. Then shortly after that feeding, hopefully within half hour, you will get on the pump and pump both sides, for about 15-20 minutes.

Now, remember, your baby just had a good feeding, so if you don’t get much, but your baby is well fed, do not PANIC! Your basic requirement is to make enough for your baby and you are already doing that.
the rest is leftover, so don’t start thinking you don’t have enough.

You might be frustrated if the volume is lower than you like, and so you might wait a while longer and then have more milk collected. The reason I don’t suggest this at least when you are first starting is because you may wind up pumping too close to the next feeding and then your baby will be fussy because there was not enough milk for him or her.

Remember what I said earlier about how much you will need to collect. Figure out what you think you need to collect and then based on the average volume collected, decide if you need to pump once or twice a day. Remember I talked about this being a loose template which you will individualize to meet your needs. Well, what if you need to return in 1 week and have not begun pumping yet. Depending on how much milk you need, you might need to pump more than once or twice a day. Because of the additional work load and what it means when you return to work, I hope you don’t need to do that, but as moms, you do what you need to do.

Now, also do not panic when you see a low volume and start thinking how you are possible going to get enough milk when you return to work if you are only pumping 1-2 oz each pumping session. here is how this will work.

The milk you have stored will go to your baby on Monday ( this is all the milk it took you weeks to collect)
But now on Monday, your baby will not be breastfeeding, so when you pump, you will get a full feedings worth.
As long as you pump as often as your baby is getting bottles, you should keep up a good supply, but back to that later. I hope this helps relieve any anxiety you might be feeling.

After you pump and refrigerate a few bags of milk and freeze a few bags of milk, I recommend defrosting a bag or two. Smell the fresh and defrosted milk. and taste it ( I recommend tasting your freshly pumped milk first so you know what the usual taste is like) Some moms realize that their milk has an odd smell or taste soapy. Lipase is an enzyme that is normally present in human milk and some moms have an excess of lipase in their milk. The normal enzyme begins to break down the milk fat soon after the milk is expressed. This is definitely not harmful to your baby. It seems that some babies mind the flavor difference and others are okay with it. If you notice this smell, I would recommend 2 things. The first recommendation would be to offer it to your baby and see if he/she minds the taste. If your baby has not taken a bottle and you put this milk in a bottle, you may think they are rejecting the milk, when perhaps they are just not used to the bottle. So, this would not be the best way to “test” your babies interest. The second recommendation would be to treat your milk as if your baby did mind it.

The reason the siren went off is because: Imagine if you have several weeks of pumped milk and you only realize AFTER the fact that your baby will not drink it? This will be a real downer.

You can begin to get into the habit of scalding your freshly pumped milk. I will have a handout that goes into details on Lipase – What it is? How it affects your pumped milk? And how to deal with it. You will find this by going to:

Should I fill up the 8 oz bags and then freeze? My answer, at least in the beginning is, definitely not. Here is how it will work:

As you pump and collect the milk, I would suggest to collect and store it in 1 oz and 3 oz increments.
If you fill up a 6 oz or 8 oz bag and it gets defrosted and your baby does not drink it all, you are apt to waste your milk.

Remember, once you are at work for a few weeks you may see a pattern emerge and then you can begin to store
in 4 oz increments if that is typically what your baby drinks.

The easiest way to store your milk is to use breastmilk storage bags. Once you have put the appropriate amount of milk in the bag and closed it properly and marked it with how many oz and date, lay it flat in the freezer. This will take up a lot less freezer space. You will want to mark how many oz because once flat and frozen you will not be able to tell how many oz are in the bag.

Okay, so now you have reached your goal. You have enough milk frozen.
If your baby is use to taking the bottle, than you use that last week to pump and store even more milk.
Always nice to have a stash

If your baby has never taken the bottle, this gives you 7 days to help your baby learn to use the bottle and be comfortable doing so. I will be doing another show on bottle feeding, however, for right now, let’s assume you have enough milk and your baby is taking the bottle well. Hooray! for all your hard work! You are now ready to return to work and you don’t need to worry about having enough milk for your baby!!! This is a huge goal you have just accomplished. You have now joined the ranks of pumping moms!

This is Episode #62 and Episode #64 – Part 2 will be about tips and tricks of the trade about pumping and how to make it more convenient. By the time you finish listening to Part 5, you will be an expert in the pumping your milk for work department!

Please remember to check out the show notes for this episode which will lead you to 2 downloadable forms I know you will find helpful.

Since today’s show is all about Transitions, I will leave you with this quote by Mandy Hale When you are transitioning to a new season of life, the people and situations that no longer fit you will fall away.

Links: Free Documents are available here
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