Pumping while at work!

Katy - posted on 11/04/2008 ( 32 moms have responded )

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I have recently gone back to work and began pumping for my 3 month old for while she is at daycare. The pediatrician said she should take about a 4 to 4 1/2 oz bottle - but I am only pumping about 3 oz every time I pump. I really don't want to supplement her and she is happy as a clam when she nurses and never acts hungry - should I be adding formula to her bottles to give her 4 oz? I know this seems silly - but the whole formula thing gets pushed on you so much these days - and makes me second guess myself.

32 Comments

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Francie - posted on 11/11/2008

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I have been back to work for about 3 months now. I have found it helpful to pump on one side in the morning before I go to work while the baby is eating on the other side. (I have PLENTY of milk when I first wake up in the morning, though, and I don't know if all do...) Seems like I get more when I pump that way. Between that and pumping while at work, I haven't had too much of a problem keeping up with what my baby needs. He's 6 months old now, and I haven't had to feed him anything other than breastmilk yet, and he's still not acting hungry without solids. I find that on the days the baby eats less at the babysitter's, he nurses more when I get home.

Nicole - posted on 11/11/2008

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The more you pump/nurse the more milk you will start to produce. Trust your gut take the info that sounds good to you and leave the rest. Nicole

Katy - posted on 11/11/2008

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I always worried that pumping in between feedings will results in you having less come time your baby wants to eat.

Marissa - posted on 11/11/2008

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I am having the same problem but I am only getting maybe 1 oz. My daughter is throwing up the formula I am supplamenting with. I am a teacher but I am just subbing while my kids are little. I maybe get to pump once a day sometimes not at all. I know it's frustrating, I never had to give my first daughter formula.

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Everyone has already given some great advice for you! My main suggestions are these: 1) make sure that you relax while you're pumping. It's easy to get stressed out about how little you're producing or how little time you have left in your pumping break, but being relaxed is one of the best ways to make this time a good time for you. Keep a pic of your baby with you and/or visualize her latest sounds/faces/etc. Try to treat this time like you would if your baby was there nursing. 2) pump as often as you can while she's not nursing. Whether you're at work or at home, if you can pump for her it will keep you ahead of the milk game because you'll be able to put more away than just what you pump at work. 3) Remember that your daughter has her own appetite. If she is content with what you're giving her and she is still growing properly, don't sweat the ounce-age. Every baby is different. Obviously if she still acts hungry or isn't growing properly then you should re-evaluate. But don't let guidelines rule your life.

Nicole - posted on 11/11/2008

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Yes, Kristen, and I guess Medela is good for having small shields come with the pump, I"m sure so you have to go buy bigger ones!! I personally, don't use a Medela pump, but I know people who do and you can buy bigger shields at babies r us or online.

And you mention a pump bra. . . .Someone I know exclusively pump just cut an X in an old sports bra and she uses that. Works the same, but is much much cheaper!



And the power hour at home really does help! I've never heard of the commercial thing, but what a great idea!! I heard it was 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off. I used to only have a single pump at home, so I would pump one side for 10, then the other side for 10, and alternate back and forth for an hour. . .or for as long as my daughter was napping for, so sometimes only a power 40 minutes!!

Kate - posted on 11/11/2008

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I totally stressed about this same thing when I went back to work, and I've now been back to work almost 6 months! My little girl is 9 months old, and I have never had to supplement with formula. She has never taken more than 4 oz in a bottle that she takes every 3 hours. There are guidelines for how much, but they are based more on how much formula a baby needs...I think some mothers milk is more nutrient dense or caloric dense than others, so some babies don't need as much...totally a guess on my part. I got bigger nipple shields which helped a little. Also make sure your hoses on your pump are cleaned. I also find I have to pump for a LONG time...I will think that I am done, but then will get more milk a few minutes later. Some ideas that a lactation consultant gave me are to do a "power pump". At night, watch a one hour, light hearted show. Pump at every commercial until the show comes back on...she said it helps keep the hormones flowing. Also, you can take a weekend, feed your baby every 2 hours and then pump for 10 minutes after each feeding. Finally, if your baby normally eats every 3 hours, when you pick him/her up form daycare, nurse every 2 hours or less.

The best barometer for if your baby is getting enough really is their behavior. If they are satisfied after a bottle and can make it until the next feeding, they are fine. Don't give them more than that because then they get used to being overfed...happens a lot in daycare because then they sleep a lot. Stay with it...it really CAN be done...coming from someone who was convinced it couldn't be!

Kristen - posted on 11/11/2008

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wow nicole I hadn't heard that about sheilds and your nipple touching the sides. I wonder if that is what has caused some ladies to only get a very small amount consistantly.

Nicole - posted on 11/11/2008

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I haven't read all the posts, so sorry if I'm just repeating what others have said!

Always make sure you have enough to eat or drink throughout the day. You need 500 extra calories a day than you did before you were even pregnant. I've heard good things about oatmeal and other complex carbs boosting your supply. I know it can be hard, but stress will make your supply dip. Try not to stress over anything if at all possible. Get good sleep when you can, and let the small stuff go. Sometimes pumping and nursing at the same time will give me an extra boost when pumping, so I do that at least once in the morning before work, and try to do it a couple of times on the weekends as well. It can take some practice but once you get it down, you can do it with your eyes closed! It stimulates the let down reflex. You also may want to play around with the settings on your pump while you pump. I yeild much more milk when both the suction and speed are only about half way to the highest setting. And make sure you have the right nipple shields on you pump. If your nipple is at all touching the side of the shield, you need a bigger size, as that can block some of your output. (And by that I don't mean your areola (sp??), just the middle, your actually nipple shouldn't be touching the sides at all) Hmmm, what else?? Um, let your little one nurse on demand still whenever possible, the more they nurse the more you'll make.

Ok, that's all I can think of right now. . .but if I can think of more, I'll let you know!

Good luck!

Mara - posted on 11/11/2008

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In response to the fenugreek, it works wonders!!! I've been taking it since my baby girl was a couple weeks old. At first, I was taking 2 capsules 3 times a day, because I was concerned about my milk supply. Now I just take 1 capsule a day. I'm not sure if I really need to, but it seems to help with pumping. I am fortunate to not have to go back to work anytime soon, so I only pump once a day in the mornings and the fenugreek really helps. I would suggest taking more for a couple weeks (like 2 capsules twice a day), then slow it down to one capsule a day, but I'm not a doctor or pharmacist...though I know it doesn't hurt to take more/less. It does make your sweat smell like maple syrup:) Interesting, hey?

Angela - posted on 11/11/2008

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Make sure you have pictures of your little one around you at work while you're pumping and if necessary close your eyes and visualize nursing her. Drink LOTS of water and do your best to relax. Make sure you pump long enough (at least 10 for a double pump). Plus you could always continue pumping until you reach a second let-down phase.

Fenugreek would only take a few days in your system to make a difference, but it could take up to 2 weeks for full effect. You need to be sure you're taking enough too. My lactation consultant suggested 3 pills 3 times a day!! Yeah....that's a lot! I had supply problems with my first child when he was about 9 months old. Come to find out I was pregnant!!

Alicia - posted on 11/11/2008

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I've been back at work for 5 months now, and whether I pump three times a day or one, I still get the same amount. No matter how hard I have tried, I just have not been able to keep him on all breastmilk. I felt horribly guilty about supplementing with formula until my doctor told me that there is more vitamin D in formula, so in that respect it is providing more than I can give him. Pumping at work is hard- don't beat yourself up if you have to supplement.

April - posted on 11/10/2008

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I breastfeed my daughter until she was 13 months old. I pumped 3 times a day and was lucky to pump 6-7 ounces total all day. When she needed 4 to 5 ounce bottle it wasn't enough. I stored some in freezer and was able to add it, but I had to supplement the whole time. It was a hard decision but even in the beginning my baby wouldn't gain weight I had to supplement. I finally realized as long as she was getting as much as I could give then a little formula wouldn't hurt. It was most important to make sure she was getting her calorie intake. Keep working at it, work and breastfeeding is hard, but if you are determined you can do it.

Sarah - posted on 11/10/2008

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I think 3 oz will be fine if that's all you're getting. I've been breastfeeding for almost a year, and pump while I'm at work. When I've been low on milk, I get up a couple of hours early and do a quick pump, then I hook up to my pump while I'm getting ready for work as well (hands free pump bra). Maybe try adding one more pumping before you go to bed. Do this for a week or two. Then, you'll have some reserves to add to the milk you're pumping at work. And, my daughter has never taken more than a 5 oz bottle ever, anyway. Keep up the hard work!! It just gets easier from here.

Katy - posted on 11/10/2008

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Does anyone have any suggestions on how long you need to take the herbal supplement fenugreek? I know I have read on Kellymom.com that it can be very helpful in increasing your supply - but noneone says how long they took it?

Nicole - posted on 11/10/2008

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You do not have to supplement with formula!!!! There are teas and foods that can increase your supply. Are you drinking enough water? Rest? Ha. You can also contact your local LLL and they can give you more suggestions on increasing your supply. I would just relax and nurse your baby as much as possible when you are together. Good Luck!!! Nicole

Katy - posted on 11/10/2008

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This is such a great and supportive blog - everyones tips have been great. I am pumping more and after feedings now - so we will see what happens. I don't necissarily have a problem with formula - it just seems to stop up her system - she gets gassy and constipated when I have to supplement her bottles - she may just be needing some time let her system get used to it. We shall see. Thanks again everyone!

Chaya - posted on 11/09/2008

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As long as my child is happy I am okay with giving him formula. When I go to work my son drinks 10oz I only produce 5. I think that just pumping at work is a great thing and obsessing whether you produced enough should not be the main worry. Making your child happy should be your concern, if your child needs a little formula to be happy than that it is better to have a happy mom and a little formula than a stressed out mom and completely reliant on Brest milk.

Heidi - posted on 11/09/2008

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I can never pump enough at work, either, so I find it helps if I pump again at night before I go to bed.... this also helps increase my milk supply which goes down when I work...
Unfortunately after all my efforts, sometimes we still come up short, so we have to supplement with formula every once in awhile. I feel your pain, though. I wish I was one of those supermoms who gets a huge amount of output when I pump... My son is happy and healthy despite everything, and that is what really counts! I figure one bottle of formula a week (that's about average) isn't going to undo all the benefits of breastfeeding.

Marissa - posted on 11/09/2008

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I had the same problem..what I do is I pump between feedings on the weekend to have for the next week. It works great. I usually get an extra 12 ounces on the weekend. I didn't want to supplement and haven't yet and my son is 5 mos old now and I have been back to work for about 6 or 7 weeks. My son is also in daycare and I pump about 3 ounces at each pumpin session which I do about every 3 hours...I know..its hard to be a working breastfeeding mom..Stick with it and great job!!!

Tracy - posted on 11/09/2008

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The more you pump, the more you'll begin to make. You have to get used to the suction of the pump vs. your baby. My daughter always ate less when it came from a bottle, she just wanted momma. Like Michelle said, the pictures and relaxation really helped. I even took a video with my phone of my baby breastfeeding.

Michelle - posted on 11/09/2008

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I had a problem with my milk supply while pumping after my son had a cold and lost his appetite for a few days. I think the most important thing I did to get more milk while pumping was to relax. I also brought pictures of him to look at while I was pumping, and that definitely helped. As far as bottle size, don't worry about the amount, just be sure your daughter is content after taking it. My six month old still only takes about a four ounce bottle when he's at day care, and he's almost 19 lbs, so he's clearly getting enough.

Summer - posted on 11/06/2008

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You could also try pumping after each time you nurse her as well. You may not get very much at first, but it signals to your body to produce more milk. My doctor suggested it so I could breastfeed both of my 3 mo old twins exclusively and it has definately worked. It took awhile, but now I get 12-16oz each time I pump at work and usually have enough to freeze an extra bottle each day.

Rachel - posted on 11/06/2008

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Okay so I know this probably isn't what you want to hear but are you eating and drinking enough!! Sometimes if you cut down on your daily calorie intake that can cut down on your milk supply... I know after just having had my baby my first thought were on getting my body back but my mother-in-law is a nurse and she told me that cutting back on calories was not a good for my milk supply. The second bit of advice I have is to increase the amount you pump. I know it's time consuming but if you can't fit another pumping in during the day than maybe one at night about an hour or so after the baby goes to bed may help increase your supply and it will give you another pumping for your daycare supply. It can take a few days for it to really produce but your body gets on a schedule, mine sure did! Also what type of pump are you using? I suggest a Lansinoh pump. You can pick one up at Wal-mart pretty inexpensively (around $150). It's a double electric and I've had mine for 5 months without any problems. I use it 3-4 times a day and it's still going strong!! I've been back to work for nearly 3 months, take heart, it can get easier!!

Angela - posted on 11/05/2008

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i also drink mother's milk tea at work and that seems to help. not focusing on the pumping helps too.. ie check email or look at a pic of baby. I am lucky my daycare has a web cam so I can watch him at daycare while I pump. Are you full time? You can pump an hour after feedings when at home to increase supply and to have some extra milk.

Kristen - posted on 11/05/2008

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ok helpful time saver suggestions:

1. Medela makes quick clean wipes. these were suggested to me at the hospital. You can use them on your breast sheilds. they are waterless. just let your supplies have a minute to dry before storing, say in a ziploc bag.
2. Medela makes a freezer bag and freezer pack that will keep your milk good for 12 hours; mine holds 4 medela 5 oz bottles(I use the pump in style shoulder bag that comes with a removable pouch- but you can buy them-also i think Dr Browns has one, too). If you use two at a time, combine your bottles, then by three pumping sessions you'll have almost a full bag.
3. Also there are bags by Medela that will strap onto your shield and you can pump straight into the bag. It will make for more bags but less cleanup+less time spent.
4. the pumping bra is great. because it is hands free i pump at my desk and I can easily pump a little longer and sometimes get a second let down. I can get 5-8 oz in 20-25 min. so you could use your extra time spent to get more milk. If that works then the third pumping session might eventually fade away when your supply is back up. Hope that is helpful.P.S and wow maybe I should buy stock in Medela! haha!

Katy - posted on 11/05/2008

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My daughter is taking about 4 1/2 oz at daycare and I am pumping about almost 3 oz each time I pump - and I can't usually get in more that 3 times during an 8 eight hour work day - I shoot for 4 but it doesn't always happen. It is stressful and when you start adding it up - pumping for 12 - 15 minutes then cleaning everything putting everything in the fridge and going back to work 30 minutes have gone by - I spend anywhere between 1 1/2 to 2 hours a day pumping at work! I really would like to nurse her for a year - but man this is A LOT of work.... I know some of my girlfriends have said in a few weeks I will potentially hit a point where my supply increases again - has anyone heard something like this? By the way - thank you everyone for your posts!!!

Kristen - posted on 11/05/2008

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my doctor told me they need at least 24 ounces a day, if more, give more. I pump exclusively and give her 5 oz, 5 times a day. She is 12 weeks. I actually product less while at work. It is stressful because I feel rushed. I am in sales and take calls, run out the door and etc. So if you produce more that is great! I gotta tell you I wish I had this with my first baby...a PUMPING BRA! There are a few out there. The one I settled on was one that is like a strapless bra that zipps in front. There are hols at your nipples (but no hard boning or wires like a strapless. Anyway i wear it under a nursing bra for more suport and so I don't have to take on and off bras all day. It is made of a bra fabric around $30. One I found on the web I got was highly priased but velcroed around you and had a shoulder strap. It was a harder material and definately would irritate you all day. Check into them because its great. You can look at pics of your child, read a book, flip channels or talk on he phone while you pump and not have hands glues to the breastshields!!

Hope that is helpful!!

Angela - posted on 11/04/2008

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I have returned to work recently myself. Its a whole new ball game. I can tell you that you do pump less then baby eats. The pump is strong but its not warm, loving and cuddly. Its stressful to pump at work which also impacts production. One thing I did at first was to pump more often at first. that way its okay to get 2 oz at time. My son only took 3 oz when he was 10lbs. I put a little more in his bottle than he eats to get a measure. What are they saying baby is eating at daycare? That is more important than an average number. I mean one book I read said babies at that stage eat 20-35 oz day. that is quite a range! baby will tell you how much is needed

Katy - posted on 11/04/2008

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Thanks so much - your reply was so helpful - my little one is about 10 lbs and so 3.5 oz bottle would make sense. I have been supplementing her a bit in her bottles because I heard the same thing as well - they get more while nursing from you than you will when you pump. Which seems amazing considering the suction on the breast pumps!!

I agree - returning to work is a different world. I now just look forward to the end of the day and seeing my daughter and think about her constantly during the day hoping that she is happy at daycare. Also - adjusting to pumping at work and working with / reporting into people who do not have children. It is all such a big mental adjustment (not to mention physical - luckly my work provides lacation rooms for pumping while at work!) Thank you again for your reply and good luck! ; )

Brandi - posted on 11/04/2008

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I just returned to work this week and I am also pumping to suppl bottles for my daughter during the day. I have supplemented as needed in the past 2 months. Have you supplemented at all?

I asked my doctor about pumping becuase I am convinced that I am not supplying enoughing milk. I also pump 3 oz and sometimes only 2 oz!! The doctor told me that babies do get more when nursing than with pumping. But, she also said that the colostrum provides a lot od nutrition and will help to make your baby feel full.

How much does your baby weigh? My doctor told me to take my babies weight and multiple it by 2.5. (12lbs x 2.5 = 30) then divide that by the number of feedings a day (30/7 = 4.2) that would mean an average of 4.2 oz per feeding. But, and AVERAGE. So is your baby drinks a bottle with 3 oz, she will get more when you nurse her at home.

That seemed like a lot of info and I hope I answered your question.

On a side note, going back to work is odd. It is not the same as going back to your work world, now we have to mix mommy world and work world with fitting in pumping at work. I also noticed I pumped more at work and another mom told me it was natural when feeling sad or missing your child to pump more....interesting.



Hope this helps.

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