Guest Post by Jen Kohorst
When you are pregnant, you spend a lot of time preparing for the birth of your new baby. You read all the books, buy all the stuff, and learn what you can to care for this precious little human.
But one of the transitions that moms are rarely prepared for is returning to work after baby is here.
This post by Jen Kohorst retells her experience of bringing home her baby, working through cluster feeding and growth spurts, and finally figuring out how to build a breast milk freezer stash and meet the demand of her growing baby while at daycare.
Working and breastfeeding is not always easy and it can take some trial and error! I hope you find some encouragement (and a few tips) from Jen’s experience!
This guest post is part of our National Breastfeeding Awareness Month series. To read more stories, click here!
Breastfeeding & Returning Work After Baby: Jen’s Story
Breastfeeding classes, reading my breast pump manual, reading ALL the breastfeeding blogs, and remembering my OB nursing school classes. To be completely honest, none of it could quite prepare me for my own breastfeeding experience.
While I loved my breastfeeding experience, it’s something that I had to experience for myself to truly learn how to succeed.
When our little one was born, he latched like a champ. I felt like such a lucky momma!
My husband and I were amazed to watch our brand new baby know exactly what to do.
I know this was something they talked about in our breastfeeding classes – that many babies instinctively know how to nurse – but watching our baby do it was a totally different experience!
Ask For Help When You Need It
No matter how many times you learn or are taught about breastfeeding, it’s a whole new experience when you do it yourself.
One of the first things I learned in the hospital was not to be shy about asking for help with breastfeeding.
Thankfully, I had an awesome lactation consultant who was also our breastfeeding class instructor (it was great to see another familiar face in the hospital!). She came in to see us and checked on how we were doing.
I wanted to ensure my little was latching right and had a few extra questions for her.
I asked her to watch me feed our baby – and asked her again the next day before I went home from the hospital. I wanted to be sure we had it figured out before we were on our own!
Hungry, Hungry, Baby
Once we got home from the hospital, things took a little adjusting. We were so thrilled to have our little boy home, but knowing what a newborn needs takes a little time.
The first several nights at home were tough.
I was never worried about my milk supply, but I was scared to be feeding him what felt like constantly!
I felt like we tried everything for our little boy, only to find that what he really wanted was to eat. I was never worried about my milk supply, but I was scared to be feeding him what felt like constantly!
After talking with our doctor and researching, I learned this was normal. Whether it’s a growth spurt or just wanting to nurse – it’s so important to feed your baby on demand.
This just might have saved us some extra crying on those fussy first nights – a tip I don’t want to forget the next time around!
Another Pumping Mommy
After getting our breastfeeding routine down, I realized that I needed to start thinking about pumping. I planned to go back to work and really wanted to keep giving our baby breast milk.
I chose not to exclusively pump and instead would pump while at work and then nurse my sweet baby when I was home with him.
I just had to figure out how to get started making a freezer stash!
While some mommas find themselves getting up an extra time during the night to pump, I was not about that life. I was a momma who needed my sleep and I was going to find a different way to get my pumped breast milk!
Instead, I found it easiest to pump right away in the morning while I was nursing my baby!
When my husband was around, he’d help me get situated and off we’d go. When he was all done nursing, I’d pump on both sides for a few minutes to make sure my breasts were completely empty.
I started this routine a couple weeks after our baby was born and am so glad I did. It was nice to give myself some time to not worry about pumping and I knew I wasn’t in a big hurry since I had several months before needing to return to work.
Keeping Up With The Baby
I returned to work once our baby was several months old. I felt like I had a great freezer stash – several hundred ounces – nothing crazy, but definitely substantial.
Remember how I mentioned our little guy was an eater? Well, a breast pump also isn’t quite as efficient as a baby.
That’s when I got nervous. And serious about my pumping.
So after a month or so at daycare, I started to stop being able to make as much milk as he was eating during the day. That’s when I got nervous. And serious about my pumping.
I made sure to keep my pumping schedule, I pumped an extra time during the workday, I manually expressed after each pumping session, and I added a pumping session before bedtime.
It was definitely not easy, and I was so tired of washing bottles and pump parts, but it worked!
By following that routine, I was able to almost pump enough to make up for what our baby ate and then used some milk from the freezer stash as needed. Hey, that’s what it’s for right?
While my original goal was to breastfeed for a year, a few things happened and I had to alter that to 10 months. I was still really proud of how long we made it and that I could give that to my baby!
Weaning wasn’t easy at first. We tried half breast milk and half formula. Our baby refused bottles from us and I worried that we’d never be able to wean.
Thankfully, we figured out he liked his formula very warm and was also struggling with a double ear infection when we had first started – not a great time to change things up for the poor little guy!
If you feel like your baby is having a tough time with the transition, don’t forget about outside factors like this! Maybe the formula isn’t the temperature your baby is used to. Maybe your baby isn’t feeling well. Or maybe there’s another big change going on and your baby just needs the comfort of nursing.
My Breastfeeding Journey
Looking back, I’m so pleased with my breastfeeding journey! I was blessed to be without any serious issues and worked through the few struggles I had. It took a little adjusting and lots of learning along the way – and even my breastfeeding goal changed!
But, I had a happy and healthy baby that ended up being breastfed and formula-fed. And I’m 100% proud of that.
About the Author
Jen is a blogger at Minnesota Momma. She’s a nurse, wife, and momma to the sweetest 1-year-old boy. Jen blogs about all things motherhood and family, but has a passion for breastfeeding/pumping, pregnancy, and fitness.