As many people know, the breast pump allows a mother to get back to work and other responsibilities while still allowing you to use breastmilk as the main source of sustenance for baby. Most of the products on the market use the same technique to promote the release of milk. Flanges are attached to the breast and a tube runs from there to a bottle at the other end. Air travels through the tube simulating sucking, promoting the release of milk, which then travels into the storage container.
There are a range of reasons that mothers can be a little nervous about using a pump, so I'd like to walk through the common questions. The first thing you might not expect is that your milk supply can potentially drop a little bit when using a pump. Breast pumps are great and convenient, but they cannot replicate the special relationship that babies have with their mothers. Never fear however, being aware of this you can prepare for the effects. You will need to pump regularly at work, and I would advise that you work out a schedule before you return so that you do not feel stressed when you need to go and pump. It is a great idea to put in at least one extra session a day so that you can have a little bit of leeway when you are implementing your own personal plan. Stress can also lead to a dip in milk supply, so having a plan can help you manage any anxiety you might have. You should also be aware that there are herbal supplements that help if your milk supply dips, though I don't recommend using these until they become necessary.
Another standalone tip is to make sure you are drinking water and eating at regular intervals. Staying hydrated and snacking helps breastfeeding in general, as milk is 90% water and you burn hundreds of calories each day making milk. In addition, you should also keep your pumping frequency regular. It is important that your boss/coworkers know that you will be pumping at regular intervals and it is your right to inform them about how you plan to pump. If people understand your plans up front about pumping are much more likely to understand and honor your commitment.
When you return home and see baby at the end of the day, it is a great idea to do at least one breastfeeding session without the bottle. If you communicate with your caregiver to stop feeding 2 hours or so before you come home, this can allow you to come home a feed right away, which will establish a bond with your baby, and bring comfort to both of you. This is a simple way to promote milk supply and avoid issues like plugged ducts naturally.
Lastly, do not underestimate the importance of the environment in which you are doing your pumping. By California law, workplaces are required to give you a room you can pump in. However, this may not be the best or most inviting room to be in and I recommend you visit before you start pumping to see what you will need to be comfortable.
All in all, pumping is an amazing tool for returning to work and getting back to your commitments. It lets you return to a manageable schedule while still letting your baby have the best source of nutrition available. Good luck getting started!
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