Monday, April 18, 2016

Pumping Schedule: Working and Breastfeeding

We get this question often as to how to ensure a healthy breast milk supply while working and breastfeeding.  Just as in raising kids, consistency is essential.  Most moms return to work when the baby is 4-8 weeks old so we will give you a typical schedule to keep you on track as well as a schedule for the early growth spurts.

This schedule is for a 24 hour period on any given 9-5 workday and can be modified to your changing schedule.  The imperative is to nurse or pump every 2-3 hours for a total of 8 times per 24 hour period when your baby is under 6 months old.  If you choose to delay solids past 6 months, then continue this schedule until solids are introduced.

Please note that we are not advocating scheduling a baby's every feeding.  Feeding on demand is best for milk supply so if your baby asks to be fed earlier that your normal "schedule" by all means, feed your baby.  We do however find that working mothers benefit from a routine when it comes to pumping to ensure that they do not miss feedings and therefore do not adequately stimulate the breast which lowers milk supply.

Sample Feeding - Pumping Schedule for Infants who Night Feed

6:00 am feeding

8:30 am feeding

11:30 am pumping

2:30 pm pumping

5:30 pm feeding

8:00 pm feeding

10:00 pm feeding

3:00 am feeding

Once the baby begins sleeping through the night, put daytime feedings/pumping closer together so that you still meet the 8 times per day minimum feedings.  

Sample Feeding - Pumping Schedule for Infants who Sleep Through the Night

5:00 am feeding

8:00 am feeding

11:00 am pumping

1:00 pm pumping

4:00 pm pumping

5:30 pm feeding

8:00 pm feeding

10:00 pm feeding

This schedule will vary when your baby is going through growth spurts.  PLAN on feeding or pumping every 2 hours for a total number of 11-12 times per day during the week that your baby is 3 weeks, 6 weeks, and the week that your baby turns 3 months old.  This will help ensure that your milk supply grows with your infant's needs.  For at least 5 days during that period, you will want your feeding and pumping schedule to look something like the one below:

Sample Feeding - Pumping Schedule for Infants During a Growth Spurt*

3:30 am feeding

5:30 am feeding

7:30 am feeding

9:30 am pumping

11:30 am pumping

1:30 pm pumping

3:30 pm pumping

5:30 pm feeding

7:30 pm feeding

9:30 pm feeding

11:30pm feeding

As a working mother, you should choose a quality closed system double breast pump such as Spectra, Hygeia or Ameda make.   The convenience of a hands-free pumping bra is nice.   Make sure that you are changing your breast pump valves and filters or backflow protector to keep your breast pump working at it's optimal suction levels.  Do not risk low milk supply by not replacing your breast pump parts.  Use a phone app timer or equivalent to make sure you pump for a full 10-15 minutes of double pumping whether milk is coming out or not.  The law of supply and demand when it comes to breastfeeding is more like DEMAND and then the SUPPLY will come!  

Happy Pumping,

*Growth spurts typically occur either at 10 days or 3 weeks, and then recur at 6 weeks, and 3 months and last for 5-7 days.

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