I nursed all three of my daughters exclusively (no solids) until they were between 6 and 9 months old and continued nursing at least 5 times a day until they were over two years old. I always returned to full-time work when they were four months old. I never pumped more than 3 ounces in a four hour period. My daughters were all normal weight. You need to know that when you pump, you will extract substantially less milk than when your baby nurses. Those plastic Lansinoh breastmilk collection bags are HUGE. Kudos to you if you fill them up. I never did. As a matter of fact, I usually only filled three or four Lansinoh bags TOTAL when I was traveling on business…about one and a half per day. For more tips on how to pump while traveling on business, read How To Express Breast Milk During a Business Trip.
One last piece of advice regarding milk volume. If you are used to doing intense workouts, now is not the time to resume them. Making milk takes lots of energy. If you work out intensely AND pursue a career, it is likely that your milk supply will diminish rapidly. Your body can only do so much. Your baby is depending on you for the very best nutrition! Prioritize her above your workouts for now. You can always go back to them when she is older and not depending on you for nourishment any longer.
After being a one or two workout a day kind of person before my children, I quickly discovered that I needed to prioritize differently while my children were nursing, lest I lose my ability to do so. Instead, I chose to limit my workouts to a daily brisk 30 minute walk and some basic exercises like crunches, push-ups, leg lifts, and the all important Kegels.
Does my body look like it did before kids? No, but that’s OK for now. I have absolutely no guilt about working full time because I am nursing. The sustenance and the bonding are there. For me, that is makes it all worth it.
Your nanny can bring baby to YOU while you are at work. Instead of pumping you can nurse in the car with your Brest Friend Nursing Pillow. Have your nanny call you when they arrive. Trot on out to the car where you get to see your little baby and nurse! It will take half an hour at the most to nurse. Better yet, have your nanny bring you some food to eat so you can make a picnic out of it. Guaranteed, you will get back to work with a smile on your face!!
We live in California where they have something called the Family Leave Act. This provides both mothers and fathers with a few weeks of paid maternity/paternity time. Granted, it isn’t your full salary, for our family it meant that when my four month maternity leave was over, my husband took eight weeks of partially paid paternity leave. Not only did it give him time to bond with our new baby, but it meant that we all had lunch together.
He would call when he was about to reach the parking lot and I would trot out of my office building and we would either have a picnic in the parking lot or drive somewhere close by where there was shade and a nice view. Then I’d nurse the baby. When we had more than one, my husband would feed our other daughter(s) while I was nursing. Then I’d get to eat while we all chatted. He often swung by a park on the way back home. The baby loved it, the kids loved it and I loved it. Best yet, my husband got special daddy time with each of our girls.
Your baby will extract far more milk out of your breasts than a breast pump will. For that reason, nurse, don’t pump, when you aren’t at work. If your husband is feeling left out, encourage him to create his own close time with your baby. Cuddling together in a chair as baby gets sleepy is a great bonding routine for him.
Here's one of my favorite breastfeeding tips: when you get home from work, grab your baby, lie down on your bed and nurse. One of my favorite things about arriving home from work is that I get to shed my work cloths and have a nice little nap while my daughter nurses. It gives me a chance to rest for a few minutes as well as change gears -- from money maker to mommy. If you have older children, you can include them in this little ritual as well.
Making milk for your baby takes energy. Respect your body. Provide it plenty of healthy nutrition by continuing to follow your healthy pregnancy diet. Simplify your life as much as possible so that you are able to get at least eight hours of sleep. If you can afford it, hire someone to do the laundry, cleaning and cooking. Check out Choosing a Nanny over Daycare to learn how a good nanny can provide you and your baby the best childcare situation as well as help with the home maintenance chores while baby is sleeping.
While it may seem like nursing is taking up endless amounts of time, I can tell you from experience that you will blink your eyes and wonder where your little baby went. Your opportunity to nurse is fleeting in the perspective of a lifetime. This is your one and only opportunity to make sure that your little baby receives the very best nutrition from you. The antibodies you are passing on to your baby will provide it with the strongest and healthiest possible immune system--for the rest of its life. For that reason in particular, I encourage you to nurse your baby for the first two years of its life. For more information about this, read When to Wean.