If you’re nursing, you’ll need to think about how your baby will be fed as you return to work or begin to spend more than a few hours apart. You may choose to pump and store breast milk, or you may begin to wean your baby and use formula. Either way, it’ll take a little while to adjust. Here are some tips:

If you’re breastfeeding and want to continue to give your baby breast milk:

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that women breastfeed their babies for at least one year. In order to make it work, you’ll need:

  • A method: You can express breast milk using your hands, using a manual pump, or using an electric breast pump. Some hospitals and medical supply companies rent breast pumps. Many insurance plans cover the cost of one. Contact your insurance company to find out your best option.
  • A schedule: Eventually you will pump during the times that your baby would normally eat. As you prepare to return to work, it helps to build up a supply of frozen breast milk.
  • A place to pump: If you haven’t already done so, talk with your company’s human resources department about finding a place in the office to pump. Here are some resources.

If you’re breastfeeding and want to wean:

If pumping and storing breast milk is not the best long-term option for you, you’ll need to wean your baby and start him or her on a bottle. In order to make it work, you’ll need:

  • A formula: Ask your provider to recommend an infant formula for your baby. (Cow’s milk doesn’t have the right nutrients for a baby under one year old). If you are formula feeding, your baby should get about 2.5 oz. of formula for every pound of body weight. If you’re unsure, speak to your provider.
  • A plan to wean: Start by giving your baby one bottle of formula at his or her “least favorite” feeding, but continue to pump a bit of milk to keep your breasts from becoming uncomfortably full. (Eventually, your body will catch on and stop producing milk at the same rate.) Continue with just that feeding for a few days before switching over to formula for another one. If the baby is having a difficult time switching to formula, it is sometimes helpful to mix formula with breast milk to smooth the transition.  Usually, the last breastfeeding session to go should be the bedtime feeding. Do not give baby cow’s milk before the age of one as it can be harmful to a baby’s tummy.
  • Flexibility: You may want to continue early morning or late-night feedings, both to keep up your milk supply and keep that connection with your baby.