When Stella was born, the hope was that we would be able to afford for me to stay home for awhile. Then we got realistic about our finances, and when a good job opened up in the area when she was 7 weeks old, I jumped on it, they offered me the job, and I started when she was 8 weeks old. This fast change of fate for us had both positives and negatives – on the upside, I didn’t spend those first 7 weeks dreading going back to work. On the downside, I really hadn’t prepared to be away from my baby, and that meant that though I had been pumping semi-regularly just to give her a bottle every day or two since about 4 weeks old, I had almost nothing in the freezer. On my first day of work, I pulled what I had out of the freezer to send to daycare, and I spent the next few months totally stressed about pumping enough to cover what she was eating while we were apart.
This time around, I knew that I would be going back to work at 8 weeks postpartum, so I started pumping earlier and more consistently in order to build up a good freezer stash before I went back to work. I started pumping when Harvey was about 3 weeks old (his first bottle was during that week sometime), and I pumped 2x/day nearly every day for those next 5 weeks before I went back to work. This allowed me to have over 200 oz of milk in the freezer when I returned to work – SUCH a relief.
Breast milk supply is highest in the morning, so I usually pumped about an hour after Harvey’s first morning feed when he went down for a quick nap (with Stella I got up extra early and pumped an hour BEFORE her first morning feed, but there was no way in hell that was happening this time around). I’d also pump around noon after he went down for a nap because that tended to be his longest block of sleep at that age (sometimes this pump session happened in the car if I was running errands – thank God for a hands free pump/bra!). I was pumping 6-8 oz/day, and I was able to put about 35 oz/week into the freezer (some milk we used to keep him used to drinking from the bottle or so that I could have drinks with friends).
FWIW – the emptier your breasts are, the more quickly they refill, so I never worried this time around about pumping and not having enough for Harv if he woke up and was hungry. That happened a few times (which would have freaked me out with my first kid, and it’s part of why I didn’t pump as much with her), but this time I knew that because babies are so much more efficient at emptying your breasts and my body was already working on making more milk, there was always plenty for him.
At any rate, my intent was to keep up with the extra pumping sessions to keep a bit of oversupply happening, but then Jaime died on the Saturday after my first week back at work, and I completely let everything in my life slide. We had dozens of people at our house every day, all day, and there was no way I wanted to have to disappear into my room twice a day in order to pump. I didn’t pump one time in those 9 days, and I don’t regret it one bit.
I went back to work again when Harvey was 10 weeks old, and thus far I’ve followed this schedule:
7:30 – Nurse right before I leave for work
10:30 – Pump
12:00 – Nurse on my lunch break
3:30 – Pump
5:30 – Nurse right when I get home from work
I used to pump 30 minutes earlier both morning and afternoon with Stella because I was worried about having enough in my breasts for her. This time I realized that it was better to wait a little longer to pump and get all of the ounces possible (I get 3-4 per session) and he still has plenty when he nurses at lunch and right after work. I also pumped almost every single morning from 1mo-11mo, and I really haven’t done that this time around, I think because I know I have the freezer supply to fall back on if needed in a pinch.
This works almost all of the time, but this past week or so Harvey has been having a growth spurt or something and has sometimes needed an extra bottle late afternoon around 4:30. I can’t even begin to tell you how nice it is to tell our Nanny to just pull a bag of milk out of the freezer if she needs it! (everything is frozen in 4oz portions) I’ve also switched from putting the milk in two 4oz bottles and instead done three 3oz bottles — it’s 9oz instead of 8oz, and that seems to be plenty for him when it’s spaced out a little. I typically only get about 7oz from my work pumping sessions, so sometimes I’m adding in a quick pump session around 6:45am after I shower. I have the Medela Freestyle pump (paid for by my insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act!) which I can literally clip onto my waist band. I also have a hands free Pumpin’Pal strap, so as goofy as it looks, I can pump while I’m doing my hair & makeup or making breakfast or whatever. I don’t always do this, but if I’m feeling a little behind on what’s in the fridge for the day, it’s an easy way to get an extra 3-4oz pumped in 15 minutes while I’m multitasking.
Per KellyMom.com (the best breastfeeding resource out there), an infant’s milk intake averages about 25oz per day (range of 21-30) from 1-6 months (with some short term increases for growth spurts). Harvey used to be eating every 2.5 hours on my work days (he nurses on demand when I’m home), though this past week it’s shifted closer to every 2 hrs because he’s been extra hungry. As far as I can guess, his intake is currently:
7:30am – 4oz
10:00am – 3oz (bottle)
12:00pm – 4oz
2:30pm – 3oz (bottle)
4:30pm – 3oz (bottle)
6:00pm – 4oz
7:30pm – 4oz
12:00am- shorter feed
2:00am – shorter feed
4:00am – shorter feed
5:30am – shorter feed
As you can see, his sleep has been SHIT lately (after teasing me with those awesome 6-9 hours stretches when he was younger). The schedule I hope to work back towards on my work days is this:
7:30am – nurse
10:00 – 4oz (bottle)
12:30 – nurse
3:00 – 4oz (bottle)
5:30 – nurse
7:30 – nurse
sleep from 8-5?
5am – nurse
We’ll see, but that’s the hope(?) dream(?)! He was doing it a couple of months ago, so I know he’s capable to doing 7 feeds instead of 11 (except maybe during growth spurts). Wish me luck!