This is an ever-evolving roundup of resources — links that I found helpful as I learned to breastfeed, started pumping and went back to work. Because I was desperate to find specific details about how to make it all work, I’m including some of my schedules/routines/techniques.
Certainly, while I hope these help you if you’re struggling, or point you in the right direction, this is not an exhaustive list nor is it meant to be a schedule for you to follow exactly!
My biggest piece of advice when it comes to breastfeeding is that you have to be patient, and willing to learn as you go. So many of these things are a result of trial and error, and you’ll likely have to go through some of the same. If I can help at all, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. Nothing is TMI!
Despite a longer separation after birth than I had hopes (see Audrey’s Birth Story), I feel very lucky that I was able to have extended skin-to-skin time with my baby and she latched on like a champ. We have had our share of minor struggles — at first I didn’t feel letdown, then I had overactive letdown and oversupply, lots of spitting up, cluster feeding, diaper blowouts — but for the most part, breastfeeding has been a happy and successful relationship.
After birth, my doula encapsulated my placenta and I took two pills a day — one in the morning and one at night — for the first few weeks post-partum. I continue to take one or two when I’m stressed, having any supply issues or just need a boost. I firmly believe that these pills helped my supply and mood after delivery.
- At 3.5 weeks, I started pumping (right after the first feeding of the morning) and offered Audrey a nightly bottle. This was a struggle for the first week. She rejected the bottle, screamed, spit-up anything she ate and generally stressed me out. We tried several different bottles and landed on the only one that works: Tommee Tippee.
- At 5 weeks, she started sleeping through the night (11 p.m.ish-6 a.m.ish).
- At 12 weeks, she started daycare where she receives three full 4-ounce bottles on demand, but generally every three hours. I also send extra milk for topping off the bottles. This is an ongoing routine at daycare (see: My First Test).
- Due to my oversupply, I have a massive freezer stash and since it expires after six months, I have started donating my milk to moms in need.
- I breastfeed in public and do not pump or offer bottles on the weekend now that she’s in daycare.
My 3-6 months routine:
“Routine” is not a word I would use to describe the first three months of motherhood, at least when it came to nursing. I fed on demand, offering both sides at every session but burping in between. Some feedings took 15 minutes and others took 45. I offered a nightly bottle so that she would be ready for daycare, and found that it worked much better if my husband gave the bottle when I left the room.
When she went to daycare and I went back to work, this was a general look at my schedule when it came to nursing and pumping:
- 5:30 wake up and work out (after we got into a good system, I didn’t wake up engorged but I did in the early weeks)
- 6:15 shower and get dressed, makeup, drink my coffee
- 7:00 get Audrey up, change diaper, dress
- 7:10 nurse (both sides)
- 7:30 downstairs to pack bags
- 7:45 out the door!
- 7:50 arrive at daycare
- 8:00 leave for work
- 8:15 arrive at work
- 8:30 pump #1
- 11:30 pump #2
- 2:30 pump #3
- 4:15 leave work
- 4:40 arrive at daycare
- 6:30 nurse
- 7:30 bathtime and pajamas, sleepytime in the swing
- 7:45 clean and prep bottles and parts
- 9:00 nurse (sometimes we skipped this and did the last feed a little earlier than 11:00)
- 11:00 nurse (sometimes this was a quickie/dream feed)
- 11:15 bed!
For these months, Audrey slept in our room and through the night.
For pumping, my routine was:
- Start the day (pump #1) with two medela bottles and pump both sides for as long as I got milk, then a few minutes more — I also used the hands-free bra and looked at pictures or video of Audrey to try and trigger a letdown
- If I had 6 ounces or less in the combined bottles, I put all of the milk into one bottle and place it in the cooler, then put a new bottle on one side and the old (now empty) bottle on the other side (if I had more, I just kept the milk in the bottles I pumped into and put two fresh Medela bottles on the pump)
- All of the parts go into a ziploc bag and then into the cooler
- The cooler goes into the fridge
- For pump #2, take the parts out of the ziploc bag and pump both sides for as long as I’m getting milk, then a few minutes more
- Combine the milk into one of the bottles and place it in the cooler, then put a new bottle on one side and the old (now empty) bottle on the other side
- All of the parts into a ziploc bag and then into the cooler
- Cooler goes into the fridge
- For pump #3, I took the parts out of the ziploc bag and pumped both sides for as long as I was getting milk, then a few minutes more
- Cap both bottles and put them into the cooler
- All of the parts go into a ziploc bag and join all of the day’s bottles in the cooler
- When I got home, I prepped all of the bottles (Tommee Tippee) then washed all parts and Medela bottles as well as her Tommees from the day
- If there was extra milk, I put it into a labeled Lansinoh bag and put it in the freezer
My 6 months + routine (changes from 3-6 months):
- my supply dropped a bit around the 5-month mark, so I started dipping into my frozen stash whenever I needed
- around 8 months, I started nursing her on just one side in the morning, then pumping on the other side (she seemed to still be full enough and it helped me get enough to send to school without having to deplete my entire frozen supply)
- my work schedule changed around 9 months, so I started pumping just once at work, around 11:30 am, then again when I got home around 5:30 pm
- Audrey started taking two bottles at school rather than three — for a total of 10 ounces
- She started taking a long nap when she came home from daycare every day, and she started eating solids at 6 months, so I only nursed her once at night, after dinner but before bed
I can’t say enough about this website — I return to it day after day and I’m never disappointed. The best part about Kelly and the support groups is that everything is based on peer-reviewed research. So when you see an article on, say, how much milk your baby needs, it has links to other studies, the science and medical research and more, right there. So if you want to know more or have a question about why KellyMom recommends something, you can do your due diligence.
However, it is definitely a beast to go through so here are some of my must-read links:
- Average Weight Gain for Breastfed Babies
- Breastmilk Storage and Handling
- Frequent Nursing
- Breastfeeding and Alcohol
- Breastfeeding and Caffeine
- Can I Breastfeed If…?
- Breastfeeding in Public
- Cluster Feeding and Fussy Nights
- Forceful Letdown and Oversupply
- Letdown Reflex
- Do Breasts Need Time to Refill?
- I’m Not Pumping Enough Milk: What Can I Do?
- Herbal Remedies for Increasing Milk Supply (oatmeal, fenugreek, etc.)
- Growth Spurts
- Baby Poop
- **How Much Expressed Milk Will My Baby Need? (I go back to this link all the time!)
- Starting Solids
- Plugged Ducts and Mastitis
This support group blows me away with how quickly it responds to people and helps them navigate the KellyMom site. Again, admins only refer to peer-reviewed information (although members of the group often share anecdotes).
Nancy is amazing — she is very active on Twitter, answers questions and points people in the right direction. The webinars on this website became my bibles, especially when I was on maternity leave and suffering through cluster feeding. I’d put on a video while nursing and learn so much! Some of my must-see pages:
LLL is one of those groups that sometimes seems outdated — and yet keeps staying relevant! I spend more time on KellyMom but it often takes me out to LLL for further reading and I’ve always really liked what I’ve found.
Wondering if Tylenol is safe to take while nursing? How about Zantac? Novocaine? Type in the drug you want to research and you can make informed decisions.
Breastfeeding Books & Apps
Oh my gosh, I love this book. Not only does it have incredibly helpful tips for breastfeeding, I found it to be a good overall book for the early weeks.
When you’re tracking every diaper, every feeding and every moment of your newborn’s life, this is amazing. I only used it for about six weeks but I used it 24/7 during that stretch of time.
Pumping & Bottles
Equipment and Tools I Use:
This is super spendy, I know. But the major feature that makes this worth it is the fact that it runs on a rechargeable battery. So far, the suction is great, the machine is easy to transport and makes it easy to get a lot of milk in a short amount of time.
It is loud, and the spare parts can be hard to find. I have lots of friends that use and love the Pump In Style, so if you don’t care about the battery, you may want to get the PISA.
I have tried a few different things — pumping into bags, etc. — but I find that while she won’t drink out of the Medela bottles, it’s easiest for me to pump into these bottles and transfer the milk into her Tommees later.
We tried ’em all and the Tommees were the only bottles that worked for us. They are BPA-free, have a sensor that tells you if the milk is too warm, are easy to hold and come in 5- and 9-ounce sizes,
100% worth the investment. This bra is easy to fit, washable and lets you pump without having to hold the bottles. That means you can read, use the phone or a computer, or just sit and relax.
I am too large-breasted to just wear nursing tanks, but wearing nursing bras and tanks gets a little bulky. These tanks hook onto the clips of a nursing bra, so you only have to unhook one thing.
I tried others — these store perfectly flat, don’t trap any air and hold more milk than the rest.
Once I started working, I started relying on this extra set of pump parts because if there is even a drop of water on anything — the membranes, the shells, the flanges — they won’t work. This way, I always have one clean and dry set. Also, the membranes can wear out easily, so this extends the life of my pump.
Once a week, I sterilize my parts and this makes it a cinch in the microwave. The bags can be used 20 times each, so it will take me a long time to go through the box.
A lifesaver in the early days. After a few weeks, the pain/discomfort went away and I don’t use this as much.
If you have questions, need some support or just don’t know where to find the information you need, PLEASE drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.