If you’re headed back to work or school soon, you’re probably wondering how to begin building a supply of milk to ensure your baby is properly fed while you’re away. Below are some recommendations for how to get started:
How soon should I start pumping?
Three to four (3–4) weeks before you are scheduled to return to work or school.
When should I pump?
Within 1 hour after the first morning feeding.
How long should I double-pump after the morning feeding?
In general, 8–10 minutes.
What if I pump only an ounce—or less?
That’s ok! Assuming nursing has been going well, your body is producing just the right amount of milk for your baby. It’s not going to start making a lot of extra milk—nor do you want it to. Just store whatever you’ve pumped in the refrigerator and combine it with milk from subsequent pumping sessions until you have enough to freeze or within 4 days, whichever comes first (see our guidelines for storing milk.)
How much milk should I freeze per container?
Three (3) ounces. Also consider freezing some 1–1.5-ounce portions for when baby wants a little more or just needs a snack until you two are reunited for the next feeding.
How much milk do I NEED to have stored before my first day back?
You only need enough for that first day back.
To determine the amount, think about how many times your baby feeds in a day, and for how many of those feedings you will be separated from baby (don’t forget to factor in your commute!). Then, multiply the number of feedings you will be away from baby by 4 for an estimate of how much milk you’ll need to store.
What is the ideal amount of milk to have stored by my first day back?
About 2 times the amount above, or 2 work/school days’ worth. For many mother–baby duos, this number is usually between 24–32 ounces.
Don’t be discouraged if pumping is difficult at first. A pump isn’t the same as your warm, snuggly baby. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your pumping sessions:
Find a comfortable place to pump.
Try to relax: be near your baby (or look at a picture or watch a video of your baby) to help with let-down; listen to music; or have a snack.
Hand-massage your breasts for 1–2 minutes before you attach your pump flanges, and/or learn how to compress your breasts while pumping (a hands-free pumping bra is key here).
Ensure your flange fit is correct and comfortable—you can’t produce milk if you are in pain.
If you ever have any questions about your pump, feel free to contact us. Storkpump’s Customer Service Representatives are happy to assist you.
*Thank you to Michelle Farfel, IBCLC, of Lucky Baby Lactation Services for contributing to this article.