Conquer school mornings in stride with this Olympic-worthy breastfeeding game plan!
By Karen Williamson, CLEC Milkies Special Contributor
Does the alarm clock chime send a shiver down your spine? Get your baby fed and your school-age kids to class on time, with a little help from a simple planner, some extra pump parts, and a streamlined routine.
Chart the course for happier days, easier milk
If we let it, stress can steal so much of our joy as parents. According to Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple: A Guide for Helping Mothers (Hale Publishing, page 228), it can also diminish a nursing mom’s milk ejection. This can result in a baby consuming less milk when nursing. Likewise, a jam-packed schedule may decrease milk production, if nursing sessions are dropped or shortened.
If you don’t already own one, find a planner or electronic calendar app to serve as your mainstay this school year. In addition to school and extracurricular activities, leave room for recording days and times that you plan to store up breastmilk either through pumping or using the Milkies Milk-Saver. Keep your planner by your bedside to review before sleep. Then, review it once more each morning to clarify your vision for the day.
Round up backpacks, school clothes, and pump parts before nightfall
I am sure that at least one of my gray hairs can be accounted for by the dreaded elusive permission slip or missing school assignment. Avoid morning time-wasters by reviewing your children’s homework, signing permission slips, and reading school notices before bedtime. In addition, work with your child(ren) to lay out backpacks and clothes the night before—complete with socks, shoes and any after-school gear for karate, ballet, etc. That way, you don’t have to play hide-and-go-seek for a missing shoe in the morning hours.
If you work and pump outside of the home, consider purchasing at least one extra set of breast pump parts (flanges, storage bottles and connecting pieces) through your pump manufacturer’s website. Then, you can bypass the dreaded wash-by-hand chore. At the end of the workday, simply gather all of the used pump parts into a zippered mesh laundry bag or mesh bathtub toy bag, nestle the bag into the top rack of your dishwasher, and set the dial for the hot wash cycle.
Forget Food Network lunches. Aim for the best food you can manage.
Although I would do a cartwheel (not an easy feat for this post-baby body!) for one of Food Network star Jeff Mauro’s tantalizing “Sandwich King” creations, when nursing I had to give myself permission to pack simple dinner leftovers. In fact, in some instances, all I could muster was filling a plastic sandwich bag with a few dollars for a lunch purchase at school or childcare.
The “bedtime bewitching hours” can be trying for nursing and non-nursing moms alike. So if you opt for homemade lunches, load up lunch boxes after your nursling dozes off to nighttime dreamland. Or better yet, if available, recruit your partner to be the official lunch-packer. Don’t forget to delegate to those under counter height, too. Even little tikes can handle taking dirty containers out of lunch bags and tossing them into the sink.
Rise before the rest of the team.
For most nursing moms, morning is prime time for milk flow and therefore prime time for getting more milk output from a pumping session—thanks to sleep’s positive effect on prolactin levels. According to The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk (McGraw-Hill, page 66), even brief naps can boost this milk production hormone.
Whether you opt to pump or not in the a.m., feeding baby before other siblings arise helps prevent distractions that can lure baby away from that important first feed of the day.
Get your sling on.
A sling can be a lifesaver when you really need to brush your school-age child’s hair or help tie a shoe, but your nursling insists on nursing now! Having trouble finding a sling that you and your baby both feel comfortable in, so your hands can be free? Before purchasing one, ask the moms at your local mom’s group or play group if you can try on theirs to evaluate how your baby and you respond to each. For additional shopping pointers and sling-wearing safety tips, visit babywearinginternational.org.
Exercise your breastmilk storage skills on weekends, too.
Both in the world of sports and the world of lactation, consistent routines appear to be essential to long-term stick-to-itiveness. To perform at the peak of their game, most Olympians exercise at least six days a week. Similarly, many lactation experts recommend that moms who pump on work days also pump on days off work. This helps moms set aside some breastmilk before the busy work week begins.
To sneak in extra time with the pump on days off without feeling perpetually strapped to the machine, pump 10 minutes or so immediately after a breastfeeding session. As a bonus for many moms, this can help boost milk supply for the upcoming work week. (Overproducing mamas may want to forego this idea.)
And if your non-nursing breast leaks while your little one is latched onto the other side, consider using a Milkies Milk-Saver to store that breastmilk so that it is not wasted in your nursing pad.
With these tips in action, you’ll be headed to school or the bus stop feeling a lot less like you’ve just competed in a triathlon.
Breastfeeding matters! Please contact your doctor, midwife or lactation consultant with specific breastfeeding questions or concerns. This article is intended only to provide general information.