Working outside home for 10 weeks

I have four questions for you, but first let me explain our situation. I have a 10 week old daughter, Holli. She is my first. To this point she has exclusively breastfed. I will be returning to work when she is 4months old. I will be working 7 hours per day. I will be home each day at lunch to nurse her. I will have enough milk frozen to give her 4 3oz bottles per day. And I will only be working for 10 weeks.

So, my questions are:

  1. Do I need to pump at work to keep my milk supply up? (Holli sleeps through the night, I do not nurse 11pm - 6am)
  2. How do I tell how much milk she will need, for each feeding, for a whole work day? Is 4 3 oz bottles plus lunch time feeding enough?
  3. I was told that 1oz should take seven minutes to feed. Is this true?
  4. Can I stop the bottles when I finish this 10 week job session?

Please help,



Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Dear Kristin,

You will probably need to express your milk at work to keep your supply abundant, especially since Holli sleeps through the night. Your breasts are not getting any stimulation for that 7 hour period, so adding another 7 hour period during the day might dramatically decrease your milk supply. It's wonderful that you are able to come home to breastfeed halfway through the day. One option is to express your milk in the morning or the afternoon at work for about 15 minutes using a double pump kit, or 20 to 30 minutes when single pumping. Another option is expressing for a shorter period of time, both morning and afternoon. This may fit more easily into your work schedule, than one longer pumping session.

For a 7 hour separation (with you coming home to nurse at lunch) four 3 ounce bottles sounds like more breastmilk than you will need. Even though many breastfed babies are fed every 2 hours, and allowing for your lunch time feed, that would leave 2, or possibly 3 feeds. It is always a good idea to have a bit extra, especially in the beginning, since you don't know how much milk your daughter will want while you are away. You might want to freeze your milk in different sized portions (e.g. some 1 and 2 ounce portions, as well as the 3 ounce) so your caregiver could offer a smaller amount of your milk if Holli is still hungry. This way you won't be wasting as much of your milk if she doesn't finish a bottle.

Babies who are breastfed are very efficient at sucking. They sometimes have a tendency to finish a bottle very quickly. Feeding a baby is an important time for them to be held, and talked to, and loved. If Holli finishes a bottle in a couple of minutes she may miss out on all this closeness that is so important to her. Use a bottle nipple with a slow flow and ask your baby's caregiver to hold your baby close, maintaining eye contact with her, and take her time while feeding. If your little one is still taking the milk too quickly, her caregiver could try removing the nipple from her mouth, while cuddling with her. If this becomes at all frustrating for your baby she should allow her to continue to feed without interruptions.

If you no longer want to use bottles, I would definitely recommend going back to just nursing once you have completed your 10 week job session. (You can also exclusively breastfeed on weekends while working!) Very best wishes for combining breastfeeding with working outside the home!


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