When should a working mother start pumping and storing milk?

Q: I'm going back to work soon. When should I start pumping to store up extra milk for my baby?

A: A week or so before heading back, you can start pumping once a day to get used to it and to have some handy for your first days back, but don't feel like you need to have a freezer stocked full of "just in case" milk. In fact, storing too much milk too early can lead to some problems. First of all, you're training your body to produce more milk than your baby needs, and you will still make the extra milk even if you don't pump after a feeding. If the breast isn't emptied, it could lead to a plugged milk duct, which could turn into a painful breast infection called mastitis. Second, if you're committed to exclusive breastfeeding, you're still going to have to pump two or three times a day at work -- even if you've got a huge stash of frozen breast milk at home -- to maintain your milk supply. It's helpful to get used to pumping at home, which will make doing the deed at work less stressful. Try pumping first thing in the morning, when your milk supply is most plentiful. Some moms prefer to nurse first and then pump the other side, while others pump first. You may be adept enough to pump one breast while breastfeeding on the other. It comes down to whatever works best for you. Once you return to work, morning pumping may not be necessary or practical. You'll have to see how it goes. --Kate Kelly

Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.


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