Breastfeeding and returning to work
Working and breastfeeding requires some planning – but luckily law is on your side!
Breastfeeding feels like the first test of motherhood. It’s quite unfair actually, you’ve just made it to the finish line of your pregnancy. Instead of having a good nap, suddenly you realize that this baby is 100% dependent on you. Some don’t have the luxury of staying home with their babies to breastfeed past 6 weeks. But breastfeeding and returning to work is achievable! Read about your rights: breastfeeding and returning to work.
Tips for working and breastfeeding:
Assess your breastfeeding status:
You’ll probably need to pump at least three to four times a day to keep your milk supply up.
Try to make alternative arrangements to start working from home if possible:
This way it’s not needed to introduce a bottle at an early stage, so you prevent nipple confusion. A baby can remove milk more efficiently from your breast so in this way you protect your milk supply.
Express breast milk when separated from your baby:
Talk to your employer about how this can fit into your schedule and where milk can be stored. There are a few hands free breast pumps that can be used while you are working.
Know the guidelines for storing your milk:
- Breastmilk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 8 days
- You can store breastmilk in freezer for 6 to twelve months
- Breastmilk can be kept at room temperature (19 – 26 degrees Celsius) for 6-8 hours.
Plan for increased night time feedings:
Many babies will start breastfeeding more often during the night. The levels of prolactin (the hormone that encourages milk production) are higher during night feedings so this will help maintain your milk supply
Breastfeed on demand during weekends:
If you notice a drop in your milk supply, it’s best to feed on demand over weekends.
Remember, breastfeeding is much more than a source of nourishment, your baby nurses to reconnect with you after a long day apart, to feel comforted and in contact with you.
Preparing for daycare when breastfeeding:
Your breastfeeding journey doesn’t have to end once your baby has to go to daycare. The daycare you select should play an active role in supporting, nurturing and understanding the importance of continued breastfeeding.
Enquire about breast milk procedures:
Each daycare should have a standard procedure for how employees handle, store and serve breast milk. Good questions to ask:
- How do staff warm milk up?
- How are teats and bottles cleaned?
- How do they ask the breastmilk be labeled?
- What is the time limit for disposing of unused milk?
- Are employees required to wash their hands beforehand?
- How long can they store breastmilk at the daycare?
Prep your supplies:
- Pumping materials: make sure to use the correct pump with the correct size flange.
- Bottles: buy one brand and stick with it.
- Coolers for transport: buy coolers for transporting your breast milk.
- Bottle labels: Label your child’s name on the bottle and write the date on
Send smaller amounts of milk to minimize the risk of unused milk being thrown away.
Breastfeed your baby on the breast at night and over weekends to keep your milk supply up.
Babies are more efficient at emptying the breast than pumping so this helps to maintain a higher supply.
Breastfeeding difficulties may lead to postpartum depression:
Studies suggest that postpartum depression may be more common in women who attempt to breastfeed but experience difficulties doing so. Far too often, women feel ashamed and inadequate as mothers when they can’t (or choose not to) breastfeed.
There are other safe and healthy options!
As parents, we intend to provide only the best for our babies, so breastfeeding our babies may lead to significant amounts of stress.
As a lactation consultant, I know breast is best. But as a mom, I know the extreme pressures that we are placed under as women to produce milk every time our baby needs it.
I support the idea of breastfeeding if you can, to reach out for support and if you are struggling, there are other safe and healthy options to ensure your baby is well fed.