Updated: Apr 3
Going back to work? Taking a trip with your closest friends for the weekend? Booked a day at the spa? Going to Target without your nursling? Then you probably will deal with a pump during your nursing journey.
What you need
A quality pump that fits! Make sure your flanges aren't too big or too small because this can affect your milk output or cause damage to your nipples.
Storage bags or containers: you can get throw away bags, reusable bags, Junobie even sells a milk container, or you could just use mason jars!
Bottles: how will your baby consume their milk when you aren't around? Spoon fed, syringe fed, bottle fed, cup fed, there are so many options! Just be sure to have your feeding method on hand.
How much do you need?
On average, babies need anywhere from 20-35 ounces per day (24 hour period). If you are going to be gone for 2 hours you probably only need enough for one or two bottles (just to be safe). If you are going to be gone for 24 hours then shoot for 24+ ounces. Going to be gone for a weekend? Plan to have at least 100 ounces on hand for your kiddo's caregiver.
If you are going back to work, you may be feeling overwhelmed by how much milk you should have stocked and ready to go for your baby. The reality is you just need to provide milk day by day for your nursling. My philosophy is to be over prepared, so if you can send a few extra ounces each day then do it. If you can only send 16 ounces then send 16 ounces. If you feel better with a freezer stash I would shoot for having 30 days of milk on hand, depending on your nursling that is anywhere from 600-1050 ounces. The good news is, you haven't failed anyone if you don't reach a 30 day stash. It's just a goal if you want a little cushion.
How to build the milk stash
Pump between the hours of 1-5 am, these hours tend to be the most lucrative
Pump for a few minutes after feeds to get any extra, and remember an empty breast/chest refills faster than a full one
If your baby is feeding from one side and you are leaking from the other put on a silicone milk collector to catch the drips
Make sure you are eating enough, stay nourished! On average, nursing parents consume 300-500 extra calories/day.
When you pump, pump for at least 20 minutes OR for 2 minutes past the last drop of milk you see if things are slowing down. Maybe that means you are only pumping 12 or 15 minutes.
You can store your used pump parts in the fridge in between uses for up to 24 hours
If you are returning to work and/or will be spending long periods of time away from baby it's recommended you start getting baby used to a bottle around 2-3 weeks age to help avoid bottle refusal when the time comes for baby to take a bottle or other feeding method for the majority of their day
When you are with your baby continue to feed on demand to ensure your supply maintains and you are receiving biofeedback from your baby when they have been in their own environment all day. Your body will create the milk they need based on what they have been exposed to throughout the day.
Ready to learn more about lactation?