The nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it increasingly more difficult when life will go back to “normal”. While this can be daunting or overwhelming, being prepared for “normalcy” may help. This may entail knowing how to best prepare yourself to return to work with regards to chest feeding/breastfeeding. One activity that can help prepare you for returning to work is preparing your milk supply. Preparing your milk supply in advance can be helpful if pumping doesn't go as planned. Different experts suggest different methods to building up your supply, so finding out what works for you is very important. For example, our CEO Amberlee had 3-4 days worth of milk available prior to starting back at work. For her, this gave her a sense of relief knowing that she had a milk stash available in case she didn’t have time to pump or her milk supply dropped. Other moms have suggested having 2-3 weeks worth of frozen milk to prepare themselves. It depends on your preference, milk supply and the amount of time you have to pump while you are home with your baby.
To reiterate, storing milk may not be for every parent, which is ok! However, if you are interested in milk storage and creating a stash, there are a few different suggestions that mothers and professionals alike have provided. For example, determining how much you will store based on your baby's age and how much they consume. 2-5 month old babies may consume 4-6 ounces every feeding, which occurs every 3-4 hours, whereas some 6-month old babies or older may need 8 ounces but have a longer wait period between their feeds. Each baby is different, however, estimating how much your baby will need may help you set up a plan and be prepared. When preparing your stash, some mothers may choose to pump for 10 minutes prior to the first feed of the day and store that milk. Others may consider pumping 3 times daily after their baby is fed to ensure that the baby consumes as much as they want to prior to storing. Pumping after a feeding session, you can aim to pump for around 8-12 minutes to start building your stash. Pumping at the same time daily can help signal to your body to make more milk, which can allow for an easier routine of producing extra milk, pooling and saving. Another suggestion would be to introduce your babies to bottles early in infantry, some experts have suggested around 4-6 weeks old. This will help prepare them for when they are unable to feed directly from you and can save you, as a parent, some worry about if your baby will take the bottle. Finally, having your pumping materials ready the night before will help for those early mornings when you are sleep deprived and hit your snooze button.
Last but not least, it is important to be kind to yourself. Parenthood is a journey that comes with its ups and downs, but in the end, it will all be worth it! If you have any suggestions or stories about your pumping routines, we would love to know and share with our other parents :) After all, we’re in this journey together!