Returning to Work and Pumping

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

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If you are exclusively breast/chest feeding (EB/CF) but plan on returning to work and pumping, I highly recommend getting your baby used to a bottle. I read all of this stuff about nipple confusion but quite was confusing! Here's the thing, yes, your baby can get confused in the beginning. What does that mean? It means if you start off with the bottle from day one it's easier for them, they don't have to work the same muscles they would if they were at the nipple.

I started pumping early because my breasts were very engorged. My husband would give our son a bottle at least once a day, but eventually I got sick of pumping just to replenish the fridge stock and started my freezer stash. This meant that while pumping in the wee hours of the night, I also decided to EB/CF from weeks 4-13. Guess what happened? Josiah refused a bottle for about 6 weeks after I returned to work. One of the best ways to avoid bottle refusal is to offer the bottle to your baby EARLY, within the first 2-3 weeks. You can offer a bottle 1 time a day or a few times a week.

What did refusal look like? My son would not eat until I got home from work most days and was nursing a lot during the nighttime. When he started daycare, there were days where he would barely have 4 oz a day. He also would not take a bottle from me, it's very normal for your child to refuse a bottle from the lactating parent. It was a bit concerning that he wasn't eat at daycare, but what is cool is that he fluctuated his feeding times to the afternoons when I picked him up...and all night. Ok, the all night thing isn't ideal when you have to wake up and work in the morning but he was fed.

What are some things that tell you your baby is getting enough?

1. Keep track of your little one’s feedings, even in the wee morning hours. It’s recommended that they nurse 10-15 minutes per breast (minimum), 8-12 times a day. I highly recommend the Baby Tracker-Newborn Log app. Your pediatrician will always ask how many minutes/side they are eating. This app provides an average time too which is nice. DO NOT get hung up on the AAP guidelines because while this may be the average for the typical baby, your child may be eating for 25 minutes per side, or more! Sometimes, Josiah would be latched for 40 minutes or longer.

2. Wet diapers! You can have your daycare provider keep track of this during the day and report to you in the afternoon. I’ve heard most centers have sheets they mark diapers and feedings on. Our at home provider does a communication book. In the beginning, I just requested to know how many ounces of milk Josiah was eating a day. I would occasionally ask if he was having enough wet diapers if he wasn’t taking much milk during the day. If your provider doesn’t currently offer anything like this, don’t be afraid to ask!

3. Baby is growing! GREAT news, your baby doesn’t have to be in the 98th percentile! Our little man is not even in the 50th percentile, but he’s healthy! If your pediatrician has concerns, they will let you know.  Don’t be concerned if your friend’s kid is outgrowing yours. Your baby should triple their birth weight by 1 year old, and double it by 6 months. Bottom line, STOP comparing your child to someone elses.  It will just drive you crazy.

Two bottles that helped my little guy adjust back to bottle feeding

NUK Simply Natural Bottle, we purchased this bottle when my mother-in-law and her mother were in town helping with Josiah when I went back to work. It seemed to work, but he would still hold out for the house white.

We were also fans of Dr. Browns both plastic and glass; however, the glass is better in that they clean well, rather than always smelling like milk (this is personal preference).

Any bottle with a long nipple is best for a breast/chestfed baby you don't want a bottle that is made to "mimic" the breast/chest.

At 16 months, Josiah was a pro at taking a bottle from his provider and dad.  He still wouldn't take a bottle from me unless we were driving... and only in the morning. It is important to stay patient and to keep trying different bottles and different nipples with various flows.



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