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Going back to work after having a baby has to be one of the hardest things to go through as a new mother. With both of my children, I wanted them to have breast milk, even while as I was at work. This meant having a very close relationship with my breast pump. If you are a breastfeeding, working mom, read on for tips for surviving breastfeeding while working.
- Establish your supply early. In anticipation of going back to work after 12 weeks of leave, I started pumping milk once a day when my son was 2 weeks old. Every morning, after the first time he nursed, I would express milk and freeze it. I was able to freeze over 200 ounces before going back to work! There were days I didn’t pump, but most days I did. The main reason I did this is because most women don’t respond as well to pumping as they do their own child nursing. Therefore, I was anticipating my daytime supply would drop when I was having to exclusively express milk for 8 hours a day. I wanted to make sure I had a bank of milk to fall back on when pumping wasn’t producing enough milk.
- Contact your employer before going back to work. Talk to your supervisor about where you will be pumping at work and how often you will need breaks to express milk. It is important to do this before you go back to work for a couple of reasons. First of all, your mind will be put more at ease if you know everything is in place before returning to work. Secondly, it is important for you and your employer to already have accommodations in place so no one is scrambling to find space or cover your position while you take breaks the first day back. Find out about federal and any state laws if your employer isn’t accommodating of your needs.
- Introduce a bottle. Before you go back to work, start introducing bottles of expressed milk to your baby. My second child never took a bottle from me, but did fine for others. You might have to test out several bottles before discovering one that works for your baby. It’s best to make that discovery before going back to work!
- Invest in a good pump. It’s better to spend money on one decent pump than to need to buy several pumps when one doesn’t work or breaks. Make sure the parts fit your breast correctly so they are effective at expressing milk. I always invest in both a double, electric pump as well as a hand held, manual one. With both my children, I found the manual pump to be more effective at expressing milk, but more time consuming. So I mostly used the electric pump with the manual one as a back-up.
- Don’t stress. That’s easier said than done, right? I know I would start to stress at the slightest drop in my milk production. Luckily, there are many ways to help boost your milk supply. I always made sure to keep snacks of granola bars with oats at work to help with my supply.
- Think about your baby. Some moms have trouble relaxing enough at work to express milk with a pump. Try looking at pictures of your baby or putting on some relaxing music.
- Find the right child care. Be sure to find child care that is breastfeeding friendly. My son’s daycare let me nurse him when I dropped him off and picked him up. I was allowed to keep frozen milk in the freezer there as a back-up.
- Keep your supply up. When you are home, feed your baby from the breast. When I first went back to work, I would nurse my son in the morning and pump before my work day even started. Even if you are pumping less by the end of the week (which I almost always did!), let your baby nurse from you all weekend. By Monday, your supply will be better.
Have you recently returned to work as a breastfeeding mother? What have you done to be successful?
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