Since day one you have breastfed your baby. You made it through those early weeks of sore nipples, engorged breasts, and cluster feedings that made you feel like you would never wear a shirt again. As a result of those early weeks and all the ones since, you developed a strong milk supply while on maternity leave. Now, as you prepare to return to work you are afraid of losing it. Or you have recently returned to work and noticed a dip in your production.
Do not worry, you CAN maintain your milk supply as a working mom. Below are key steps to ensure the strong supply you’ve worked so hard to build stays.
It seems obvious, but, surprisingly, this one is easy to forget. I cannot tell you how many times during the week I look up and see it’s already noon and I have not consumed any water.
Good news, research shows nursing moms do not need to consume more water than the average person. However, not drinking the daily recommended amount of water (which most people don’t) does negatively impact milk supply. How do you know the right amount of water you should be drinking? The trick is to never feel thirsty. The moment you feel thirsty, you are dehydrated, and your milk supply is taking a hit.
Tips to getting enough water
- Place a full glass of water on your bedside table. When your alarm sounds in the morning drink before you even get out of bed.
- Carry a water bottle to work with you. Keep it with you at your desk and take it with you wherever you may go. Opt for a reusable one, so you can refill it throughout the day and cut down on plastic waste.
- Choose water at every meal. Go out for lunch? Water. Something to drink with dinner? Water.
- Coffee drinker? Make sure to have a glass of water as soon as you finish your coffee.
- Keep track. I use an app that allows me to enter in the amount of water in ounces I drink throughout the day. I set a daily goal, and it sends reminders to drink.
Eat Enough of the Right Foods
Once again, this seems obvious, but eating the right foods and eating enough is incredibly crucial. Breastfeeding burns about 500 calories a day, leaving you hungry. Make sure to eat filling foods rich in nutrients.
Foods Known to Aid in Milk Production
- Brown Rice
- Brewer Yeast
- Sweet potatoes
See my post What I Eat on a Typical Day as a Vegan Breastfeeding Mom for a breakdown of the foods I eat throughout the day.
Also, make sure you do not go too long without eating. Keep snacks on hand.
If you start working out, know you will need to eat more. If you don’t your body will be screaming. Trust me.
I began running again, and underestimated the amount I would need to eat to compensate for breastfeeding and running.
The day after my first run, I nearly passed out at work because I had not eaten enough.
Along with eating the right foods, taking vitamins ensures your body receives the nutrients it needs. Whole foods should provide the main source of the vitamins and nutrients for your body, but taking a daily vitamin fills in the gaps left by your diet.
Continue to take your prenatal. Along with my prenatal, I also take DHA for baby’s brain development and plant-based calcium for my bones, because most calcium is going to baby.
Wear the Right Bra
If you are anything like me, you spent all of your maternity leave wearing super comfy nursing bras designed for sleeping. However, now you need more support as you dress like a functioning person of society again.
Ditch bras with underwire. Bras containing underwire may clog your milk ducts. Clogged or plugged milk ducts cause you pain and are never any fun. Clogged or plugged milk ducts can be the result of several things, but one way to avoid them is to avoid underwire.
Receiving a solid night sleep for yourself may be difficult if your baby doesn’t sleep through the night. If that is the case for you, make sure you communicate really well with your partner about splitting the nightly duties evenly. As mothers, we tend to take on more of the caregiving, but now that you are working again it’s vital you aren’t losing sleep night after night.
If you are fortunate to have a baby sleeping through the night, set up a routine. Put your baby down for bed. Get everything ready you will need in the morning. Then, go to bed yourself. And actually go to bed. Tempting as it may be to lie in bed and scan through Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest, allow your brain to completely shut off. By setting the phone down and not receiving any of its stimulation you will find you fall asleep faster and experience better sleep over all.
Pump, pump, pump! Wake up an hour before your baby and pump.
Also, keep a consistent pumping schedule at work. People tend to experience the most challenge maintaining this one.
To avoid too much variance on your pumping times, schedule your pump sessions on your calendar, and treat them like appointments.
Also, communicate with your boss and co-workers. Make them aware of your schedule and get them use to it. Once they are familiar with your schedule they will understand when you excuse yourself in the middle of a conversation or reject a meeting time they suggest. Soon, you will find they start planning their interactions with you around your pumping schedule automatically.
At home, pump the boob your baby isn’t nursing from when you are feeding her before bedtime. Your milk production is a demand and supply. It only supplies what is demanded. So, if you demand more it will supply more.
Remember, when you’re pumping your body only supplies the amount of milk that is demanded. Make sure you empty your boobs with each pumping session. If you consistently leave milk in your boobs, you’re sending the message you do not need the amount being produced. Your body will then begin to produce less milk.
Always Nurse Your Baby When You Can
Make sure to nurse your baby before and after work, even if you have a bottle ready. I nurse my daughter when she wakes up at 6:00am and I nurse her at 7:00pm before she goes to bed.
Pumping stimulates your brain to produce more milk, but nothing compared to your own baby nursing from you. Also, just having your baby near you throughout the day helps to stimulate milk production.
And Most Importantly, Believe in Your Supply
Our minds are incredibly powerful. You can do all the other things I mentioned above, but if you believe your supply is low, your supply will be low.
Always think positive thoughts concerning your supply. While you are pumping visualize your milk letting down and filling the bottle. I like to envision it as a waterfall, flowing freely.
Remember, you are an amazing woman. You work hard and provide everything your baby needs.
Are you continuing to breastfeed as you go back to work? Are you experiencing any troubles? What tricks do you utilize?