Twelve weeks after having my oldest daughter, Harlan, I had to return to work as a teacher. We were exclusively breastfeeding at the time and I had all intentions of continuing our breastfeeding journey even after I returned to work.
I had very supportive colleagues at my school who would give me time to pump throughout the day. While our breastfeeding journey was going well without any hiccups, my journey with pumping was just about the exact opposite. Although I was pumping throughout the day, I couldn’t keep up with her demand because I just wasn’t producing enough when I pumped.
People always mentioned how hard breastfeeding could be, but failed to mention how difficult it can get when you have to start pumping to feed your baby while you are away. I pumped as often as I could during school hours, but no matter how often I did, I just couldn’t keep up.
My failed attempt at pumping made me very discouraged to try it again with both Avery and Macks. But, now that Macks is getting older and the time between his feeds are a little bit more spaced out, I’ve started leaving him more often with a sitter so that I can get work done. I’m usually gone during a feeding which means that I have to leave Macks expressed milk for him to drink from a bottle.
Thankfully pumping is going really well so far. I don’t know if it is because I am not away from him full-time or if I am just more relaxed when it comes to breastfeeding, but I am able to stock up on my supply in the freezer.
There are several things that have made pumping much easier for me this time around.
- Pumping in the morning. When I wake up in the morning, I have an abundant supply of milk. After I change diapers and get the girls’ breakfast ready, I sit down and pump. I will usually get at least one bottle out of it.
- Having picture of my baby on hand. When I am away from Macks and need to pump, I take out a picture of him to help me relax and help my milk let down. I’ve also watched videos of him to help. He’s usually my cue when we need to feed at home, so he should be my cue when I am away and pumping too.
- Taking time to relax. This is super important because being stressed can limit the amount of milk that you can pump. I always try to pump when I know that I have the adequate amount of time to sit back and do it. I don’t want to be rushing or thinking about anything else. A lot of times I pump when Macks is busy being entertained by his sisters or down for a nap. This way I know that my full focus can be on pumping.
- Pumping on one side while nursing. This has taken me a lot of practice, but there are some times when I will nurse Macks on one side and pump on the other. It’s not ideal, but if I am really trying to increase my supply, it is a great option for me because Macks’ nursing helps stimulate the milk production.