Working and Breastfeeding: How to Keep Nursing When Weaning Off the Pump
If you've already begun or are planning to soon wean from your breast pump - but wish to continue nursing your little one - we have some tips to help balance this transition as a working parent!
Working and Breastfeeding Takes, Well, Work - But It Can Be Done!
By now, you’ve probably figured out the best way to balance breast milk feeding as a working parent – how, where, and when to pump at work, the best way to store your pumped milk, and how to most efficiently clean your breast pump and parts so they’re ready for their next use. At over a year in, you’ve done an amazing job! If you’ve already begun or plan to start weaning from your breast pump soon but aren’t quite ready to give up nursing entirely just yet, it may help to consider the tips below. Solving the equation of breastfeeding plus working, now minus the pump, doesn’t have to be overly complicated! Here’s a few ideas to help you along the way, as a working and breastfeeding parent:
- Nursing and pumping can exist independent of each other! You already know that your breasts produce milk on a supply and demand basis – which means that the more your breasts are emptied, then the more milk will be produced. The opposite is also true – the less that your breasts are emptied, then the less milk will be produced. Avoid a sudden, drastic dip in your breast milk supply by understanding and staying in tune with your body. Continue to feed your baby at the breast, whether that’s a couple of times in the morning before you leave for work, a few times in the evening after you’re at home, and once overnight or some other schedule that works well for you both.
- Reduce pumping sessions or length of sessions gradually. Slowly dialing back the length of time spent in each pumping session, your total number of pumping sessions at work, or a combination of both is the one of the easiest ways to wean from your breast pump. A gradual reduction of overall pumping time is usually best for you too – this gives your body and hormones a chance to adjust slowly, so you can avoid the sometimes-uncomfortable fullness usually associated with stopping cold turkey. Slowly dropping a pumping session per day and/or nixing a few minutes from each pumping session will help you maintain your breast milk supply – so you can continue your nursing relationship, even as you use your pump less. As long as your little one is still nursing at the breast, your body’s breast milk production will naturally adjust accordingly!
- Consistency is key. Nursing your little one is essential for maintaining your both breast milk supply and your breastfeeding relationship. Since work may take up a big chunk of your day – and you won’t have your baby with you – nursing frequently when you are together is important as you wean from your pump. The good news is that breast milk production is typically highest first thing in the morning and then gradually falls as the day progresses – so be sure to front-load a few nursing sessions between when you both wake up and when you leave your home for the day.
Once you’re home from work, decide when the best times are throughout the evening to nurse your little one. As you’re weaning from pumping at work, it may be beneficial to nurse him or her once you’re at home together to help ensure your breasts are fully emptied – especially as you reduce your workplace pumping sessions. Whatever nursing schedule works best, be sure to stay as consistent as possible to avoid disruptions to your milk supply and to effectively continue nursing even after weaning from the pump.
- Keep helpful supplies on hand. As a working and breastfeeding parent, it may take your body some time to adjust as you gradually decrease your pumping sessions at your office or place of employment. Be sure to have any necessary essentials on hand to protect your clothing from unexpected leakage, such as disposable nursing pads and breast milk removal soap.
Now may also be a great time to begin using the supply of frozen breast milk that you may have stored in your freezer! Doing so helps ensure that none of your precious liquid gold is going to waste. A frozen supply can also be especially helpful for ensuring your little one still receives your milk – even when you’re away and once you’re no longer pumping at work for him or her. Remember, mama, breast milk feeding is a journey with a lot of different phases. Weaning from pumping at the workplace, while still maintaining your nursing relationship with your little one, is just another part of your unique journey and that’s something to be proud of! As you figure out the balance of working, pumping, and nursing an older baby, you’ll quickly discover what works best for you both. Remember, Medela is here to support working and breastfeeding parents through whatever comes your way!