It’s recommended that you start pumping or expressing your milk a few weeks prior to your return to work. This will not only let you build up a supply of milk for your baby, but will also help you get used to pumping before you have to be away from home. If your baby sleeps through a feeding or only nurses on one side, take the opportunity to pump. If your baby doesn’t tend to skip any meals, try pumping in between two feedings. This is best done in the morning when your milk supply is usually most abundant. It’s only necessary to stockpile a small store of breast milk in advance. Once you return to work, you’ll be replacing what your baby uses by pumping a new supply each day.
As your baby gets older and feeds less, you’ll be able to pump less frequently. Don’t be overly concerned if you’re not able to duplicate your baby’s feeding schedule exactly. As long as you’re pumping while away, and your baby continues to nurse when you’re at home, you won’t “dry up.”
If your work schedule doesn’t permit pumping, or it just isn’t working for you, you still don’t have to give up breastfeeding. Many women choose to supplement their milk with formula while they’re away, but continue to breastfeed while they’re at home. Your milk supply will change to meet your baby’s needs. After several days, your body will usually adjust to the new routine. On days you’re home with your baby, you can still continue to breastfeed.