6 Tips for Breastfeeding Working Moms

Currently on Round 2 of breastfeeding in the past two years. We’re nearing the 10 month mark, but man I’ll be glad when I’m officially done nursing.
Don’t get me wrong – I love breastfeeding. I love the bond it’s created with my children, and I love that I’ve been able to nourish my babies and have a custom supply of milk to fit their needs, all from my own body. However, being a working breastfeeding mama is hard work!
Here are six tips for breastfeeding working moms:

Commitment // Breastfeeding is a commitment. No, seriously. It’s no easy job. It really is a lot of work nursing a child around the clock.  Add pumping to the equation and it’s literally like another full time job. There’s late nights, early mornings. Literally, your body is not your own even after pregnancy because you still give so much of yourself even after the baby is here. All babies are not the same and all breasts are not the same. Make sure you’re committed to the process— the good, the bad, and the ugly.  

Invest in a Good Pump // These days, you can get a free breast pump through your insurance. Still, be sure to research the breast pumps your insurance has to offer to determine which one would be a perfect fit for you. I had the Spectra S2 both times and loved it. Also, be sure to replace your pump parts every 2-3 months, as they can lose their suction, not removing milk from the breast effectively and causing a dip in your supply.

Pump realistically // So there seems to be this thing with moms being obsessed with pumping ounces upon ounces of milk, and other moms worrying that they're not producing enough milk because they're not pumping 6 ounces per breast in one sitting. Look, whatever you're producing for your baby is more than enough so long as you putting baby to the boob on demand, you're eating enough throughout the day, and staying hydrated. I've never had an oversupply of milk. I’ve always produced just enough for what my babies needed. Both of my children drank 3-4 ounce bottles, and that's what I was able to pump during the day at work.

Insatiable Appetite // What does every woman want to do after they’ve had a baby? Snap back. Good news is, breastfeeding does help you lose weight in the very beginning. I lost maybe 30 pounds after I had both my children after only gaining 10-15 pounds with both. Breastfeeding gives you the appetite of a whole football team, so it’s impossible to diet while breastfeeding. One, if you diet and eliminate too much you risk a dip in your supply since you have to keep up your calorie intake. And two, you literally want to eat all. The. Time!

Supply Issues // I’ve had my fair share of milk supply issues. And honestly, it’s exhausting! With my daughter, we didn’t supplement because she refused to take anything other than my breastmilk…which was fine, but it also meant lots of early mornings and waking up twice in the middle of the night to pump so she had milk enough for the next day. I also didn’t have much flexibility when it came to going out because I was never able to pump more than the 3 ounces she drank. Like I’ve said before, I’ve never had an oversupply – I’ve always been a “just enougher”, but even then I struggled with supply issues for a number of reasons.

One, a pump is not as effective at removing milk from your breasts as your baby is. And two, lots of things can lead to a dip in your supply: not enough rest, not staying hydrated, not taking in enough calories, birth control, etc…

Because I had some struggles with my daughter, I introduced my son to formula early just so I can have some flexibility. So yes, my son is breastfed and formula fed as well…and I’m not ashamed of that.

I knew things would be a little harder this time around managing two small children and running on very little sleep, so my supply would (and did) take a hit. And to be honest, no one tells you how hard it is to maintain your milk supply when you’re away from your baby for 8+ hours a day. When I went back to work with both children, my supply tanked. Once I got it back and thought I was smooth sailing, my son started eating more solids, and my supply tanked some more! Then my cycle came back and my supply decreased some more during that time.

Breastfeeding and pumping is a legit emotional rollercoaster.

As I’m typing this, I have two things working against me: my cycle, and I’m getting over a cold, so my milk supply took a serious hit.

You’re always worrying about whether or not you’re producing enough milk, and I didn’t want to be concerned with whether or not I’d be able to get enough milk pumped at work for the next day this time around. I do what I know to do to get my supply up (staying hydrated, taking in enough calories, etc…), and whatever I can’t pump at work we supplement with a bottle. Yes breast is best, but fed is also best. And at this point, so is my sanity!

Lop Sided Sistas // You may notice that your baby takes to one side more than the other. For whatever reason, both my babies favored the left side more, making my right side the slacker. Uneven production of milk means your breasts won’t be the same size! With both kids, I tried offering the right side first, but they both just weren't having it. With my son I offered my right side to "top him off" just so he's removing milk from that side as well. Worked for a while, but he's now 9 months old and won't even drink from my right side. *shrugs* It is what it is at this point.
Breastfeeding is hard work, but breastfeeding as a working mother is even harder. Why do I stay the course? Because I know it’s the best thing for my children. My children haven’t had any major illnesses, and I’m grateful that they have pretty strong immune systems because of it. Don’t give up! There’s tons of support groups out there to help you. And while I do understand that most women are not able to breastfeed, or some women supplement (like me), you’re still an awesome mother.
What have your breastfeeding experiences been like? Let’s talk in the comments!

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