Excerpts from Balancing Breastfeeding: When Moms Must Work
This article is fantastic and chock full of great information. I shared it on facebook, and highly recommend that you share it with all working moms out there! The comment section has great suggestions as well! - Melissa
1) His natural habitat is on your chest and anywhere but close to you is not 'home' to him. The breastfeeding relationship and your milk supply is set in the first 4 weeks post-partum. This means that those first 30 days are absolutely essential for laying a good foundation for the rest of life (literally). Your body is busy balancing milk supply and getting the amount perfected during this first month. Everything is fairly 'set' after this time - babies tend to consume more milk at each feeding, but generally do not eat more overall throughout the day after their first 30 days earthside. This means that it is much more difficult to increase milk supply after the first 4 weeks. Therefore, plan ahead and start pumping/freezing (additional tips on this below) as soon as possible after birth (or even before birth if you so desire).
3) Rent a hospital grade breastpump, such as the Ameda Elite. Hospital grade pumps are specifically designed to increase milk supply and keep it high during times when baby is not regularly nursing. This is essential for mothers who are returning to work. I cannot emphasis this enough. Far too often I've seen mothers with the best of intentions who are lugging around their latest Target purchase and the non-hospital grade pumps that you buy at Target, WalMart, Babies R Us, etc., are simply NOT designed for the breastfeeding mother who is returning to work and needs to pump daily. Yes, they will market them to you. Your cash is good for them too. But don't be fooled - those are the pumps that are meant for occasional use (for the weekly baby sitter bottle, for example). They are not meant for daily use by working mothers who must be apart from their baby. So, right now - go find your nearest options to rent a hospital grade pump. The Ameda Elite just happens to be my favorite, but others are also available such as the Hygeia EnDeare and the Medela Symphony and Medela Lactina.
4) Babywear!When you are able to be with your baby (as much as possible) sling him. This serves several important functions for infant development (motor, mental, hormonal, cardio, respiratory) and also decreases SIDS risk in the first year of life. But just as important, babywearing has an impact on YOUR hormones and thereby your milk supply. Being close to baby - actually holding and touching and carrying him with you wherever you go causes the two of you to be in close harmony with each other hormonally. Baby is able to regulate your milk supply through this perfect dance of pheromones. In addition, baby will be happier, more content, more at ease, relaxed, and sleep better, the longer and more often you babywear. Again, babies natural habitat is on your chest.
5) Share Sleep! This is another monumentally important factor in hormone regulation that impacts milk production and baby's roll in the breastfeeding relationship. Night time is the time when hormones naturally kick into high gear and milk production is at its peak (often women will find they pump the most upon waking in the early morning hours). In addition, night time can be a special quiet bonding time between you and baby - even while asleep. Babies are acutely aware of mom being close to them and sharing sleep serves many important regulatory and health functions during the first year of life (in addition, like babywearing, sleep sharing reduces the risk of SIDS).
There are many reasons for this - one of which is milk production regulation, and another is for baby's access to mother's milk during night time hours is when his brain is growing most rapidly. Brain research tells us that the same hormones that impact growth spurts and neuro activity during sleep are those that encourage an infant to nurse and intake all the good stuff needed to support this night time development. Night nursing (or just sleeping near baby) shifts your hormones into high milk-production gear and keeps them going during the days and weeks when you are not near your little one during day time hours.
There are many options for sleep sharing arrangements. You can share a flat, firm bed surface if you have mattresses on the floor and arrange them near a wall where they cannot shift or move. Do not cover baby with a blanket or have her head too close to your pillow - leave her some space of her own, but feel free to nestle in next to her when she nurses. You can also place a separate co-sleeper bed next to your bed. Or you can arrange a separate baby mattress next to your bed mattress (again, on the floor so they do not shift around). Parents who already have a crib can move this next to their bed (between the wall and bed for security) and drop one side to use as a co-sleeper.
6) There is yet another reason to breastfeed (even when solely for your baby's comfort) as often as possible. Ground breaking lactation research demonstrates that there is an intricate method of communication in the saliva of a baby that triggers mother's milk production via receptors on the areola. This communication signals all of baby's needs to mother by way of hormones and enzymes (and likely things we have not even begun to understand). How much milk your baby needs, the fat/calorie composition he requires today, what specific antibodies he needs a boost of, the immunological properties he requires most right now -- it is all transferred to you and your body's amazing milk making wisdom via your baby's suckling at your breast.
Your baby's nutrition, brain, and immune system needs change on a day by day, hour by hour basis. Therefore, it is always best to breastfeed anytime, any day, anywhere that baby expresses the desire. Nurse on demand. This is baby's only way to regulate her needs -- and she can do so quite perfectly if simply given the opportunity.
7) Try to nurse your baby immediately before leaving him for the day. If you also pumped recently (within the last couple hours) you can give this fresh milk to your baby's care provider and simply have them leave it out and feed to baby or place in the fridge within 6 hours.
Fresh milk is especially beneficial to provide for your baby if s/he gets sick. Again -- the immunological needs are expressed to you from baby via nursing. Your milk immediately changes its antibodies/antiviral/antibacterial composition to meet baby's needs. Therefore, when you or your baby is sick, it is even more important than ever to nurse often and provide fresh milk whenever possible. Healing will be faster and health will be exponentially better.
8) Fenugreek. Fenugreek is an herbal supplement that has long time been used to increase milk supply among nursing mothers. It has been given the rating of GRAS by the FDA (generally recognized as safe). A few mothers may experience light headedness if they take fenugreek on an empty stomach as it is also used to calm stomach troubles and seems to interact with blood sugar levels in some people.
Take 3 capsules of 500mg each 3 times a day (1500mg each meal) when you are trying to increase milk production. This is more than the amount recommended on the Fenugreek bottle because it is marketed as a stomach aid - not as a milk production booster. If you solely wish to supplement your current milk supply, or you feel like 1500mg/3 times a day is too much for you, it doesn't hurt to take less and see what works for you. I've worked with many women who experience dips in milk production during their periods (this is normal as milk production is hormone-related). During their menstrual cycles, these women added Fenugreek to their daily regimen, but typically in smaller quantities (1000mg/3 times a day for example).