Hi, Bees! I'm curious what your experiences were once you returned to work if you were BFing and pumping. I've had supply issues since day one. I was told to supplement by a LC, which kinda crushed my spirits for a while, but I've rallied and saw my supply go up a touch once I started pumping more at home. I'm back at work now and producing about half of what my LO needs per day, but I've noticed that my output is less now that I'm pumping at work. What was your experience when you transitioned to pumping outside of home?
cantaloupe / 6085 posts
I definitely had a pumping supply drop when I returned to work with my first. Turned out to be a combo of (likely) stress and hormones fluctuating with return of AF. It rebounded to prior level after a week or two.
Were you pumping next to baby at home? I think that can make a difference too. If you’re not already you could try photos/videos of baby while you pump. Or even just doing something truly relaxing (like reading a book on the kindle app) vs stressing over work emails.
May not help but just some thoughts!
grapefruit / 4465 posts
I pumped several times/day and over time lengthened the pumping sessions so that I was spending quite a lot of time pumping (have a desk job/my own office so it was usually possible) but still over time did see a substantial decrease in pumping output. My supply was also already a little short of his needs when I went back to work. However, my supply stayed strong during the sessions where I nursed LO at home. I just made up the shortfall by mixing more formula into the daycare bottles over time, and pretty sure LO never noticed the difference. I'm still bf him for bedtime/wakeup at 18 months. I don't think there's anything I could have done to avoid the supply decreasing with pumping, I was pumping a lot, several times per day at work, and using a hospital grade pump. But I also don't think it was a big deal, LO didn't mind formula mixed in with his bottles and it didn't impact our bf relationship at home, which was what was most important to me.
squash / 13199 posts
@foodiebee: pumping at work is stressful even under the best of conditions and stress can definitely impact supply. I found that working and pumping made me so busy I wasn't drinking as much water or even eating as much and that affects supply too.
persimmon / 1077 posts
I had supply issues from day one. LO1 lost weight so I started supplementing. It bothered me in the beginning but eventually I was okay with it and plan to do the same with LO2. I went back to work after 6.5 months and pumped. My supply stayed about the same(not much) but he had something. I nursed him until 18months and I don’t think he was getting much towards the end but the comfort and bonding. Overall, I only pumped at work and nursed when I got home until he went to bed. My supply stayed the same and he got formula. I just didn’t want to stress anymore so I came to terms with it!
nectarine / 2432 posts
I'm a teacher so pumping is a complete shitshow. I only pumped once a day, which I think was my problem, and my supply tanked. I want back at 8 months postpartum and by 11 months I was into my freezer stash. I made until the day he turned 1 year but pumping at work really decreased my supply.
clementine / 915 posts
My pumping supply definitely declined as the weeks went by after my return to work. With DS 1 I was pumping 3x a day at the office, adding sessions at night, chugging water and taking supplements to try and improve. It was stressful until I let myself off the hook and started to supplement with formula.
DS 2 will be 11 months this week I started with 2 pumping sessions at work and I am down to 1 now since my output was the same either way. We use a lot of formula in his bottles now but I am still nursing him morning and night and more often on the weekends. Trying to scrape by until 1 year with the last few ounces of my freezer stash.
kiwi / 617 posts
Just popping in to say that when I went back to work I had to pump every two hours to get enough milk for the next day. I didn't build a freezer stash before either, so I HAD to make sure I was getting enough out. I ended up pumping at 12am or 3am for a month because that when my boobs were super producers just to build a freezer stash. I had to pump at 8,10,12,2,4 then would nurse baby at 6, pump at 8(Daddy gave bedtime bottle) nurse at 12 & 3(pump extra or just pump once she started sleeping through the night) nurse at 6 and the start all over again at 8am at work.
It mostly continued this way (pumping 4x a day at work) until she was a year and we started weaning. I never pumped that much on the weekends, just at work. And the later in the afternoon, the less and less would come out.
I was lucky cuz I have a desk job and work was very supportive. You will find your rhythm, you can only do what you can!
Oh one tip, everyone says to look at pictures of you baby. What really did it for me was her sounds. So take a video of her gurgling and giggling and see if that helps.
And as everyone else said, stay hydrated!!
(ETA - I could never double pump with a bra...very little would come out. I had to hold and massage my breast while hunching forward, one boob at a time. Again, just take a little time to figure out what works and doesn't work your body.)
kiwi / 662 posts
@jennlin821: Every two hours! I'm impressed. I don't think I could swing pumping that often from a workload standpoint. I'm in a cubical, so I have to gather my supplies and go into another room to pump. I'm definitely taking advantage of the nighttime boost too and pumping twice a night right now, freezing one portion to try to build a stash up. DH took a video of LO playing that I've switched to instead of pics and I do think it's helping! Gotta do better with the water though...
@Bluemasonjar: I feel you. I've been taking supplements since like week 3 or so. Every day I get any milk out feels like a win and something I've fought for.
kiwi / 617 posts
@foodiebee: So I started drinking everything with a straw, and got two camelback Eddy bottles. For some reason I drink 4x as much with a straw, vs a Nalgene.
The other thing that helped me was adding oatmeal to my smoothies. I don't like oatmeal by itself, so I would blend a packet of plan instant oats or rolled oats into my strawberry banana smoothies and it seriously helped my production. My milk would plummet with week before my period, so that week I would drink 2 oatmeal smoothies a day!
grapefruit / 4465 posts
@foodiebee: Moringa worked the best for me (recommended by my IBCLC), if I forgot to take it, I'd notice a difference in output. Nothing else people usually recommend made a noticeable difference.
persimmon / 1058 posts
@foodiebee: I (luckily) haven’t struggled with supply, but just wanted to suggest making sure your pump is working properly and the phalanges fit correctly. That can make a huge difference, and it isn’t always super apparent. GL!
kiwi / 662 posts
@jennlin821: A straw is a great idea! I drink more that way too. I'll definitely try adding oatmeal to my morning smoothie. Hadn't thought of that.
@periwinklebee: Thanks for the tip!
@bees_knees: Yeah, I need to figure out if they are fitting correctly or not. I did a kind of trial and error phase with different sizes and based what I use now on output and comfort, but I don't know if it's technically correct or not. I have to massage a lot while I pump, and one side is a serious under producer. It'd be great to get it equal to the other side, if that's even possible...I also changed the times that I pumped at yesterday and got a bit more than previously. I've struggled with slow refill most of all--takes me hours to refill!
kiwi / 617 posts
@foodiebee: to elaborate more on keeping hydrated/drinking with a straw. I used to have 2 camelback Eddy bottles, one with Gatorade (I would buy the powder kind)or juice and the other filled with water. That way I had a dedicated water bottle and what I thought of as the 'sticky' bottle.
I also recently bought these straws: https://www.amazon.com/ALINK-Reusable-Smoothie-Flexible-Replacement/dp/B07BJ56BP4?ref_=bl_dp_s_web_11111760011
These ones are suuuper long, tall enough to stick several inches out of a blender bottle. But anyways, I like to drink my smoothies and nearly everything else (ice tea, ice coffee, etc) with them too. they have several different lengths & widths, so these might work for you too.
For adding oatmeal to your smoothie, I also LOVE it in with applesauce or apples cooked with a little cinnamon. Applesauce, cinnamon, banana & oatmeal tastes like an apple pie. Try pumpkin too!
clementine / 828 posts
@foodiebee: Most women make more milk in one breast. Also, I find that my supply is better if I pump until I get a second letdown. I don't usually get much from the second letdown, but it seems to help with my supply overall.