Tips for successful breastfeeding when a doctor or in medical school

In many ways breastfeeding your child is more than a feeding choice, it is a lifestyle commitment.

Many physicians and medical students with a hectic lifestyle often wonder how they will continue nursing once back to work or school. Will their milk dry up, how often should they pump, what happens when on call, how can they continue? It can be done, as these MomMD's tell us, and share their tips for success.Introduce the bottle

Before returning to work or school make sure that baby is used to taking milk from a bottle. "Both my children took breast milk from the bottle without complaint, but many babies resist vigorously. A general rule is to introduce breast milk in a bottle at 3 weeks of age. Too soon may cause "nipple confusion", too late and nothing but mommy's breast will do," says Kate Newkumet, M.D. It often helps to have daddy or another caregiver give the first bottle while Mommy is out of the room. While at home it is also useful to build up a good milk supply in your home freezer, that way if you miss pumping sessions there will be spare to compensate.

Pump, pump, pump!

Once back at work, in short, successful breastfeeding primarily means lots of pumping. "I returned to full time pediatrics practice when each of my 2 babies was 11 weeks old, but was able to continue breastfeeding until 10 months of age. I know a few physicians who have continued longer. I started with pumping 3 times per 10 hour day, but was down to once a day by 6 months, combined with 3 breastfeeds while at home. Some people suggest waking the baby up at night to do extra breastfeeding will help you to nurse longer, but I don't think they worked the hours of a typical physician! " says Kate. Physician AE says, "I was fortunate enough to have a clinic position when nursing. I Pumped 3 times a day, EVERY work-day for 8 months with success. I had plenty of milk for the baby".

However, maintaining this schedule can be hard. "I went away for a week, and was only able to pump every 8 hours for 6 days, my milk fell off by about 75%. I think 48 hours of only pumping can work if it is done at least every 4 hours, but that can be difficult if one is admitting patients, or caring for newborns on call. If the baby could be brought to the hospital for at least one nursing per day, that should help keep the breasts stimulated", continues AE. SC shares her story, "I have breastfed 2 children while in private practice... Pumping exclusively did not keep my supply high enough for total breast feeding. The baby just has a better suck. I blocked off time in my office schedule to pump. When on call I took my pump with me and pumped when I could".

More useful tips:

  • Try to pump in a relaxing place and think about the baby.
  • Drink lots & lots & lots & lots of fluid.
  • Try to get plenty of rest (right!).
  • Get a double pumping system that's portable, like the Medela Pump in Style breast pump.
  • When blocking out pumping time remember there is clean up time as well.
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