by Bonne Dunham, IBCLC
The prospect of returning to work after your baby is born can be a very frightening and overwhelming prospect for some Mothers, but with a little extra planning and knowledge about how to do this, you can smooth out this transition quite a bit.
In case you didn’t already know, there are several benefits to combining work and breastfeeding. Knowing this might help give you a little bit of extra strength to leap over some of the more common hurdles that women face when re-entering the workforce AND taking care of a baby! It’s not easy, but you got this!
Here are some benefits of combining work and breastfeeding:
Benefits to Baby: Making the decision to supply breastmilk to your baby while you are working provides protection from ear infections, respiratory infections, allergies, colds, viruses and diabetes to name a few.
Benefits to Mother: Reduced risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer; decreases the risk of osteoporosis and allows for precious time to reconnect with baby.
Benefits to Your Wallet: One-day absences to care for an ill child occur more than twice as frequently for women who formula feed their infants as compared to those who breastfeed. And if you haven’t checked out the cost of formula…it isn’t cheap!
Setting Goals and Planning Ahead Will Reduce Stress
- Speaking with your supervisor about your plans for pumping at work BEFORE maternity leave is a great idea. If not before, than as soon as possible.
- Locate the lactation room in your workplace; does it have a fridge to store your pumped milk or will you have to bring a small cooler?
- Order you pump BEFORE your baby is born and understand how it works. While you are at it, gather your other pumping supplies ahead of time; collection bottles, storage bags and cleaning supplies.
- Plan your day: how will pumping fit into your workday? Consider making a mock-up of what your day will look like, from the moment you get up to when you step back through your doors. When and where will you pump? For most moms, pumping every 3 hours or so when separated from baby, for much of the first year, will help to keep your milk supply up and running.
Introduction of Pumping & Bottles
Week 1-4: Avoid pumping. Take this time to be with your baby! Allow the infant to naturally ‘program’ and establish your milk supply.
Week 4-6: Begin pumping once a day for 10-15 minutes and introduce a bottle. Adding this pumping session in during the morning or evening can be the best for when your milk supply is at its peak.
Weeks 6 and Beyond: Pump daily to store your milk or to have ready for your workday.
Milk Storage Strategies…The best tip I ever received!
The freshest is the bestest! Ok, bestest is not really a word, but I bet you get the picture: Always try to give your baby the freshest milk you have on hand, it will be highest in nutritive quality and deliver the most health benefits. Think “first in, first out”.
However, it’s also a good idea to rotate your frozen stash a bit too. Here is a way to do that: On Sunday night, take a days’ worth of frozen milk out of the freezer to thaw overnight in the fridge to feed baby on Monday. The milk you pump for Monday while at work will feed baby on Tuesday; Tuesdays’ pumped milk feeds baby on Wednesday, etc. No need to freeze this milk in-between, just keep it cool in the fridge.
Remember: Take a deep breath, take care of yourself too, and ask others for help. Leave us a comment about how you returned to work while breastfeeding and pumping.