How much breast milk do I need in reserve before returning to work?
Many moms think they need a huge stash of pumped milk in their freezers before they go back to work. It’s a common concern, but trust us, you definitely do not need enough milk for the entire neighborhood when you return to work!
You’ll need enough milk to feed your baby for 8 – 10 hours per day. While you are away, you’ll be pumping milk for the next working day. So realistically, you’ll need enough milk for one working day in advance (what you pump on a Monday will be used on a Tuesday and so forth). Aim to breastfeed during the weekends, at night and in the morning before you leave for work.
Using this rotation has many benefits:
- You can pump straight into the bottles for the baby and they’ll be used the next day.
- You won’t need to worry about freezing or unthawing milk in order to prepare for the daycare/nanny.
- Your milk will have the freshest immunities. That co-worker in the cubicle next to you that has the sniffles? Your body will be exposed to that sniffle and your amazing body will create antibodies that will be immediately delivered to your milk (and thus, your baby). The other kids at childcare will expose your precious angel to their sniffles as well. Good thing your body will make antibodies to those sniffles as well. Isn’t lactation cool?
What to do if you do have a big stockpile of pumped milk in the freezer? The milk you froze when baby was a newborn is still great stuff! Don’t throw it out; heck, use it for a date night. Use it to mix with solid foods.
Try not to worry too much about counting ounces of milk in the freezer or counting the days until you return to work. Enjoy your baby instead. When you are close to going back to work (say 3 weeks out or so), ask yourself some basic questions:
- How often is my baby eating?
- How old will baby be when I return to work?
- Is baby feeding off of both breasts or two?
All these things determine how much milk you’ll need for that first day back at work.
Need more breastfeeding guidance before your maternity leave ends? Reach out to a lactation consultant on our team for personalized care and support.