Advice on Expressing Your Milk
Expressing your milk is something you can do if you find yourself unable to breastfeed your when you want to. Working mothers who wish to continue to feed their babies breast milk have no other option but to express their milk and store it for later use. But first, take full advantage of your maternity leave to establish a good supply of milk before going back to work.
Once your milk is well-established and your baby is nursing well (at about 4 to 6 weeks), introduce a bottle. Don’t worry, you’re not betraying your child or yourself! This step prepares your baby for bottle feeding during the day while you are at work. Keep in mind that babies usually associate breastfeeding with mom. Consequently, in the beginning, some babies are more receptive to a bottle if it is offered to them from someone other than you.
Purchase or rent a high-quality automatic-cycling electric breast pump. Use a double-pumping kit with your electric breast pump. By emptying both breasts simultaneously, most mothers can complete a pumping session in just 10 to 15 minutes, which easily fits into a break period or lunch time.
Breast milk availability works on a supply and demand basis. Maintaining a good milk supply depends on the regular stimulation provided by baby or by pumping. Double pumping helps increase your prolactin levels, which helps maintain milk supply. This benefit is important to working mothers who might have difficulty maintaining their milk supply because baby isn't always available for breast stimulation.
To familiarize yourself with the process and help build up milk supply, start using your electric breast pump. about one to two weeks before you return to work. Try to simulate what your pumping schedule will be at work.
To ease your transition back to work, try to return midweek so that you have only a few days before the weekend. Plan to breastfeed at least once before you leave in the morning. This is important, not just for your baby’s nutritional requirements but for your own psychological requirements. Leaving your child to return to work can be an extremely upsetting time for both mother and child. If you can, go home or to your daycare facility at lunchtime to breastfeed, or have your baby brought to you. If breastfeeding during the lunch hour is not possible, plan to pump two or three times during the day at work. (Remember, if you are using a double-pumping kit, that's just about 45 minutes of your work day.)
Breastfeed as soon as you can after you return home or reach the daycare facility, during the evening, before bed, and on weekends as often as possible. Depending on your baby's age and the amount of time you spend away from him, you might be able to reduce the number of pumping sessions at work to one or two times a day.
If your company does not make a special room available for mothers who are breast pumping, find a spot that is as private and comfortable as possible. Bring along a picture of your baby, something to drink and perhaps a small snack. If you have difficulty letting down, take a few deep breaths, listen to some soothing music or imagine your baby nursing. It really does help if work colleagues understand and lend their support to you at this time.
You can store the milk you pump each day so that it is available for your baby the following day while you are at work. If a refrigerator is not available, use a cooler case.
Human milk can be kept in the refrigerator for 48 to 72 hours. If you must keep it longer, label the bottles with the date and store them in a home freezer. Breast milk will keep in the freezer for six months. Thaw frozen milk in warm water; do not microwave or boil it.