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Pumping at work: Continue breastfeeding after your return to the office

Tips and advice for making pumping work for you

by relaxnsmile  |  32610 views  |  5 comments  |        Rate this now! 

For me, reverse cycling lead to co-sleeping. DD briefly slept through the night for about two weeks when we were on vacation and she was 3 months old. As soon as I returned to work, she started waking up every two hours again. With co-sleeping, I could feed her every two hours and still get some sleep. Around 6 months, we introduced the bedtime routine and transitioned to the crib (in our room) for the first sleep cycles. When she woke up for the first time, I took her to bed with me. This forced me to go to bed early enough to get some sleep, too.

There are two risks with using co-sleeping to promote extended nursing:

1.) Sleep debt for Mom. Yes, my sleep suffered. My sleep debt is so huge that I still haven't had a refreshing sleep after 15 months.

2.) Sleep training for baby. My DD naturally went from waking every two hours to every four hours, but she seemed stuck at waking at 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Depending on your baby's personality, and your own inclination to stop co-sleeping, at some point you might need to "train" her to go back to sleep without nursing. For me, that meant at 13 months bringing her to bed and not nursing while she cried and tried to lift my shirt (heartbreaking). After about a week, she went back to sleep without it and then I started just laying her back down in the crib. It took about a month to get her to sleep through in her crib without nursing. This was not an easy month and only added to the sleep debt. Even if you never imagined yourself as a co-sleeper, it might be helpful if your top priority is to keep nursing.

That's all of my advice in a nutshell. A few acknowledgements: I got a lot of support for breastfeeding from my mom and sister, the folks at kellymom.com, and at whattoexpect.com. Even so, there just isn't all that much out there for working moms who are pumping. One book I really liked and would recommend was Nursing Mother, Working Mother by Gale Pryor and Kathleen Huggins. Finally, I think this advice is most useful for a woman returning to work with support from a partner and enough money (or credit) to equip herself for pumping and to outsource household help. Obviously that's not all nursing moms, and I would like to encourage those of us with those resources to seek out and support women without those resources.

5 comments so far...

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    Reported Posted by llzzmm9 on 3rd September 2011

  • I know there are woman at work that pump milk at work. It definitely is a personal preferrence and each and every situation is different.

    If it makes you happy then keep pumping. I don't believe there is any "you must stop" date for breast feeding. I know my sister did it until her son no longer showed any interest.

    It's an individual thing, do what's right for your family.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mary Jane on 22nd March 2008

  • Excellent! I was in my 1st and 4th years of my MD repectively when I had my girls. Pumping can be a challenge, but making that a bigger priority than getting the highest possible grade on my rotation or course work made it possible.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Kristie McNealy on 24th January 2008

  • I, too, am a nursing mom. My son is going on 11 months and I stil have tons of milk. I have to pump at work twice a day. I never thought I'd make it this long, but I do have a great pump. I think that makes a big difference. The people I work with have put notes on the refrigerator saying "No Breast Milk." So, I can see how other moms might stop pumping if they're getting this reaction. I just don't care. It works for me!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by NewsAnchorMom.com on 4th January 2008

  • These are such helpful - and honest! -- tips. I only wish I read this when I was struggling to keep the pumping going after going back to work (glass office, no lock on door, all male office -- you get the story!)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Nataly on 2nd January 2008