If you are exclusively breastfeeding and about to go back to work, it is important you get a few tips on how to pump more milk at work. This is because it is not easy to express breast milk at work and store it safely every day. The more milk you pump, the more you will be able to store and exclusively feed your baby for the required months.
Towards the last months of the maternity leave, most moms start expressing and storing breast milk for the baby to take when they get back to work. However, this milk may only take the baby through the first month depending on how frequently they feed.
Thus, you will have to keep pumping milk every day and storing it even when at work. This will ensure there is enough supply for your baby until they start weaning.
First, let us look at some of the things you need to do before going back to work.
Things you need to do before heading back to work
Introduce your baby to the bottle
Studies have not clearly stated the best time it is to introduce a baby to a bottle.
Lactation experts, however, claim that one should wait until the baby is at least 4 weeks to introduce the bottle and not later than 6 weeks. This is because, past 6 weeks, the baby has already gotten used to the mother’s nipple and may refuse the bottle.
It is important also to start introducing your baby to the bottle at least two weeks before going back to work so that the baby can have enough time to practice using the bottle.
Find out whether your organisation allows expressing of breast milk at work
Nowadays, employers are required by law to provide appropriate facilities and regular breaks for employees who wish to express milk or feed their children during working hours.
You will, therefore, need to talk to your employer early enough and inform them that you will be expressing milk at work.
If there are no special rooms set aside for mothers to express or breastfeed their babies in your company, you may have to request permission to have a private room provided for you. This could be a conference room, an office that is not used or a clean storeroom.
Find out whether the daycare you plan to take your baby allows breast milk
When choosing a daycare for your baby, it is important to find out whether they allow breast milk and their policies regarding the handling of breast milk.
This is because some daycare providers have very strict policies and do not accept babies who are on breast milk.
Others take precautions such as wearing rubber gloves when feeding babies breast milk so it is important to inform them early.
Important things you will need in order to pump more milk at work
There are two ways you can express milk at work; by hand or using a breast pump.
Expressing by hand can be quite tedious and you may not express enough due to the limited time available during breaks at work.
The best way is to use a pump; either double electric or manual pump. For the manual pump, you have to use your hands, which can also be quite tiresome.
Double electric pumps are resourceful because they are fast compared to the manual pumps. However, they are very expensive although you can hire one from the respective companies. Another disadvantage is that you need an electrical outlet, which may not be present in the facilities designated for pumping milk at work.
Manual pumps on the other are inexpensive and portable so you can easily carry one to work every day.
Cooler with frozen ice packs
After pumping milk, store it in a cooler that has frozen ice packs to ensure it remains fresh until you get home and refrigerate it immediately.
Choose the appropriate storage containers that will not leak, tear or contaminate the milk. You can either use the breast milk storage bags available in the market or the plastic storage containers with tight lids.
You will need breast pads to avoid soiling your clothes with breastmilk while at work. You can either get disposable breast pads or washable ones. Washable breast pads are however relatively expensive compared to disposable ones.
Tips on how to pump more milk at work
Now that you have everything you need to pump breast milk at work, you may be wondering how you will ensure that you pump more for your baby back home.
Here are some tips on how to increase your milk supply at work so that you can produce more milk and hence pump more.
Set the proper mood
One way to increase your milk let down when pumping is to ensure you are completely relaxed and think about your baby.
You may, therefore, need to carry a photo of your baby to work and look at it when expressing or hold his or her clothing.
Pump as often as possible
As we mentioned earlier, most employers provide regular breaks for nursing moms. So you should take advantage of these breaks and try to pump as often as possible.
This will increase your milk supply because the more the milk is removed from the breasts, the more it is produced.
Pumping on both breasts at once is likely to result in increased milk supply rather than one breast at a time. Remember to massage your breasts as you pump to stimulate for production. Once you notice the flow slowing down, stop for a few minutes then proceed.
Drink a lot of fluids and snack often
Breastfeeding makes you feel hungry and thirsty most of the time. In order to stimulate more production of milk, always take enough fluids such as soup, water or juice even when pumping. Also, eat healthy snacks often.
Talk to your doctor about using galactagogues
Sometimes you may try to increase your milk supply without much success. There are some herbs, medications and foods that some nursing moms are encouraged by their doctors to take in order to increase their milk production. Maybe you should consider this option but talk to your doctor first.
Talk to other expressing moms at work
Chances are that there are other colleagues at work who are also expressing. Talk to them and share your experiences so that you can also gain the confidence to pump comfortably.
Frequently asked questions about how to pump more milk at work and storing it
- Will expressing milk make me lose the bond with my child?
Breastfeeding according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA) allows the mother and the baby to bond.
In order not to lose this bond, it is advisable for working moms to breastfeed their babies at least every day before they leave for work and in the evening when they get back home.
The milk you express during the day should be refrigerated for the baby to use when you are at work.
- Will my milk supply reduce due to pumping?
Expressing does not reduce your milk supply. But you must make sure you pump as often as possible so as to stimulate milk production.
Make sure you take plenty of fluids like water and eat nutritious and healthy food to increase your milk production.
- How often should I pump milk while at work?
If it were possible, you would need to express as often as you would if you were breastfeeding at home. However, this is not always possible when at work.
So if you are working a 9-5 job, you may find it appropriate to express at least three times while at work. This includes in the morning, during lunch break and afternoon break.
- Between a pump and hand expressing, which is the most appropriate at work?
Time is usually very limited at work. During break time, you may need to quickly pump so that you can attend to other things before the break is over. It is, therefore, quicker to use a pump as opposed to hand expressing.
You may also need to invest in a pump that can express milk from both breasts at the same time in order to save time. This will also help you to express enough milk within a very short period of time.
- How long can I leave breast milk out after expressing?
Freshly expressed breast milk can keep for about 3 to 8 hours depending on the temperature.
If at room temperature, the milk can keep for about 6 to 8 hours but if it is warmer like above 30 degrees Celsius, the milk can last for utmost 4 hours.
To ensure the milk you pump at work remains fresh until you get home, always keep it in a cooler with ice packs. In the cooler, breastmilk can it can keep fresh for up to 24 hours.
- Which are the best storage containers for breast milk while at work?
Nowadays there are special plastic bags made specifically for storing breast milk in the freezer. However, these storage bags are not ideal for storing milk at work because they might leak, tear or get contaminated as you transport the milk back home.
If you must use these bags, place them in tightly sealed plastic food containers to avoid tearing and contamination.
Another option is to store the milk directly in hard plastic containers that have a tight lid. Avoid glass storage containers because they can break.
Remember to always indicate the date and time the milk was expressed on the storage container. This will help you make sure that your baby feeds on the oldest milk first.
- Can I mix freshly expressed milk with one expressed earlier at work?
Yes, you can mix if the milk expressed earlier is at room temperature and expressed not more than 8 hours ago.
However, if the already expressed milk is in a cooler with ice packs, you will need to cool the freshly expressed milk first for about 30 minutes before adding it to the cooled one.
This is to prevent the already cooled milk from warming up and then cooling again which might affect its freshness. This also applies when you are storing breast milk in the fridge at home.
- How long can I store breastmilk in the refrigerator?
|Temperature||Period of Time|
|Room temperature||25 degrees celsius||6-8 hours|
|Refrigerator||0 to 3.9 degrees celsius||5-8 days|
|Freezer compartment located inside the fridge||0 to 3.9 degrees celsius||2 weeks|
|Freezer that is self-contained but connected to the fridge||0 to -18 degrees celsius||3 to 6 months|
|Deep freezer||-20 degrees celsius||6 to 12 months|
- How do I heat thawed breastmilk?
First, you must thaw the milk by moving it from the freezer and into the refrigerator. Thawing can take up to12 to 24 hours so you should remove it from the freezer early enough.
Once thawed, you can put it in a bottle for the baby to use and keep the rest in the fridge. The best way to heat the thawed milk is by using a bottle warmer or running under warm water.
It is, however, important to note that thawed milk should never be refrozen. It can keep for up to 24 hours in the fridge so if your baby does not consume it all within 24 hours, you should simply discard it.
Finally, an important point to note is that if you are taking your baby to daycare; always label the milk containers with the name of your child to avoid confusion.