Pumping and Returning to Work with Enough Backup Supply

Pumping, breastfeeding, keeping supply up for the demand…all a lot to handle for a mom. Being a new mom, I had hoped that breastfeeding would work for me and it did! I felt lucky because I know that it does not always work for all. I also discovered that I was a moderate milk producer: The supply was always there, but not over the top. Good food for thought for the months to come. While I was on maternity leave I knew that I needed to build up a freezer supply of breast milk for when I returned to work. I learned that a good amount to aim for was 100 ounces of backup. That sounded like a lot at first! I also had so many questions as a first time mom. How much would my son need each day while I was away from him? I was going to be pumping at work, why did I need so much backup? I was trying to plan for this months in advance, and with an infant’s eating habits changing weekly, how could I see the crystal ball months down the road and know what would work for us?

I took the bench mark of 100 ounces as my goal to ran with it. I squeezed pumping sessions in when I could. I pumped at nap time, after feedings and also when a feeding was skipped (on demand feeding). It became exhausting and a big task to handle. The time consuming process overwhelmed me. At the same time I didn’t yield as much milk as as I’s like and my goal seemed to be further and further away.

I came up with a new plan. I discovered that if I woke up sometime between 3-5am, I could pump and have enough time to produce more milk for the usual 7am feeding. So, I started pumping every morning. Yes, super early, and at times even I thought that I was nuts for choosing the idea. But, my milk was full in the morning, and that meant I could pump more volume at that time. I also added a nighttime pump just before bed. My son typically nursed 1-2 hours before I went to sleep and that permitted just enough time to produce another round of milk. With that said, I understand that this schedule might not work for all infants, as they all come with different schedules. I also understand that every mama produces a different amount of milk. But you get the idea, play with your schedule a little and you can find what works best for you.

In the end, I flew passed the 100 ounces and got close to 200 ounces in the freezer. I truly did not think that I needed it all and considered donating any surplus, if I ended up with any. When I returned to work my son usually took 2 x 6oz bottles each day and I could pump to keep up with that demand. About 2 months later, my son was roughly 6 months old, he added a 3rd 6oz bottle each day. Sometimes I kept up with the demand and other times not, thus I dipped into the freezer reserve here and there. Overtime the reserves became depleted. My goal was to nurse for one year and I made it squeaking by with a handful of 6oz bags of milk still in the freezer. This idea won’t work for everyone, but maybe it will help some. Just one solution for hard working mamas out there trying to reach their breastfeeding goal, what ever that goal may be!