I came across your blog while looking for some guides to breastfeeding and pumping at work. I am about to go back to work as a postdoc, and I’m wondering whether it is possible to not pump at work at all and will my milk supply go down if I skip my work pump. Any advice is appreciated!
Even though I’m not a lactation consultant, I do have some experience and heard a lot of advice and experiences from women around me, so I told her this:
It really depends on the age of your baby and on your supply. For most women, their milk supply starts to be stable between 9 months and a year. So if you baby is older than 9 months, I think you should be okay not pumping at work and just nursing him at home. However, if your baby is younger than that, I think not pumping will affect your supply and it’s up to you how much you don’t want that. If you’re okay with your supply dropping and slowly moving over to formula, then you can do it and any breastmilk he gets from you is something of course! However, if you plan to nurse longer and your baby is younger than 9 months, I wouldn’t advice not pumping at work.
Another thing to consider is your own comfort. When I stopped pumping when my son was 1 year, I still got pretty engorged at the end of a workday and had my handpump in my office to relieve the pressure on days when it got too bad. I’m sure my breasts could not have handled an 8+ hour workday without pumping in the first year, but I know this is different for different women too.
A last thing to add is that for me, pumping was not that much work. It’s another thing to add to your routine, but I was usually done within 15 minutes per session, and I pumped twice a day. I had an extra set of tubing and breastshields so that I didn’t have to wash those in between pumping sessions for example.
To which she replied that her baby was 9 months and that she had pumped twice daily since she went back to work when her baby was 2 months.
So I told her:
When your baby is already nine months, you’re likely going to be okay not pumping and continuing to nurse. I dropped one pumping session at 9 months and the other at 12, but you might be okay just not pumping during the day. Just see how it goes and if your supply drops dramatically you can always decide to continue pumping for a couple more weeks/months and then try again. For a while I pumped during breakfast to have an extra bottle and leave home with empty breasts for the day (especially when BlueEyes decided not to nurse a lot in the morning).
I thought I’d post this conversation on my blog too, as it might be helpful to others too!
Expressing breast milk; it’s probably the least sexy thing I do on a daily basis, but I do it, just like I brush my teeth and do the dishes at night. It used to be in the category of things that just need to happen. And there are only few things as awkward as undressing halfway in an office at work, and walking around the university with your own bodily fluids in a jar on a daily basis. But now that BlueEyes is almost 9 months, and I think I can go from pumping twice to pumping once during my work day, I have come to realize how much I like it.
It gives me the perfect excuse to sit in a quiet room for 15 minutes and relax. I don’t bring papers to read because when I relax I’ll pump milk much faster.
It gives me the opportunity to gather my thoughts, plan my experiments, think about my day, or just sit and fall asleep (okay that only almost happened once). And the release of endorphins
when I’m pumping makes me feel even more peaceful.
Of course when I don’t need to pump milk anymore I could try and have those two small breaks in my day when I can sit and relax, but I just know that when I don’t need to do, I probably won’t do it. Normally I’m running around all day doing experiments and what not and the need to pump milk just makes me sit down, which I would otherwise probably not do.
It’s funny how I’ve come to love something that I used to dislike so much.
Last year’s society for Neuroscience meeting was right when I went back to work after my maternity leave. And since I had patched a whole bunch of cells while very pregnant, I even had something to present there. The meeting was right around the corner from where I live, which is why I decided that even though BlueEyes was only 4 months old, the whole family was going to the meeting (and in this case, with meeting I mean the actual science-part, and not so much the social and drinking part). So on Saturday and Sunday I put BlueEyes in a baby wrap (Girasol Chococabana for those of you interested), and walked around the conference.
|Something like this, plus a couple thousand posters in the background
SfN turned out to be very baby-friendly, since they even had a specific room for infant care, where you could nurse and change your baby. The only disadvantage was that this was kind of far away from the poster hall, so after I had checked out a poster or two I had to walk back there to nurse a hungry baby or change a diaper. Oh well, most people walk around the poster hall to meet people they know instead of actually look at the posters anyway, right? A major unexpected disadvantage was that when you show up at someone’s poster with a baby attached to you, they automatically assume that you’ve come to show your cute baby instead of ask a serious science question. So not much science talk for me that weekend…
On Monday BlueEyes went to his usual daycare, and I traded the baby-in-wrap for my breast pump. This was potentially even bulkier and certainly more annoying to drag around all day. The same sort of thing as before happened where I would check out a bunch of posters (at least now I got to ask science-questions and have people answer them), and then have to walk back to the infant care room to pump milk. And after I presented my own poster I realized that whoever thought of four hour poster sessions had probably never lactated him- or herself….
A last thing to note is that the night after we took BlueEyes to SfN, he had his longest night sleep so far (a 6 hour stretch of sleep!). And mind you, this was in November… So I guess nothing puts our baby to sleep like a couple 1000 neuroscience posters!