Planning Your Return to Work while Breastfeeding
The idea of going back to work and continuing to breastfeed seems overwhelming to many new mothers. With some advance planning and the right equipment to collect your milk while you are at work, a smooth transition can be made. Before you go on maternity leave start by discussing your interest in continuing to breastfeed once you return to work with your employer. Find out if your company has a lactation program to help you be successful. After your baby is born start planning for your return several weeks before your actual return to work date.
Select a Caregiver
Choosing the person who will care for your baby while you are at work is an important decision. You will want to select someone who supports your commitment to breastfeeding. And don’t wait until the last minute to start investigating your choices. You will need to find a primary person as well as several back-ups—just in case.
Breastfeeding & Returning to Work
- Take full advantage of your maternity leave to establish a good supply of milk before going back to work.
- Once your milk is well-established and your baby is nursing well (at about 4 to 6 weeks), introduce a bottle.
- Purchase or rent a high-quality automatic electric breastpump to use in collecting your milk.
- Use a double-pumping kit with your electric breastpump. By emptying both breasts simultaneously, most mothers can complete a pumping session is just 10 to 15 minutes which easily fits into a break period or lunch time. Double pumping increases your prolactin levels which helps maintain milk supply.
- Breast milk availability works on a supply and demand basis. Maintaining a good milk supply depends on the regular breast emptying provided by baby or by pumping.
- To familiarize yourself with the process and help build up milk supply, start using your electric breastpump about one to two weeks before you return to work.
- Many new mothers find it easier to return midweek so that they have only a few days of work the first week back before the weekend.
- Plan to breastfeed at least once before you leave in the morning. If you can, go to your go home or to your daycare facility at lunch time to breastfeed, or have your baby brought to you.
- If breastfeeding during the lunch hour is not possible, plan to pump two to three times during the day at work.
- Breastfeed as soon as you can after you return home of reach the daycare facility, during the evening, before bed, and on weekends as often as possible.
- Depending on your baby’s age and the amount of time you spend away from him or her, you might be able to reduce the number of pumping sessions at work to one or two times a day.
- If your company does not make a special room available for mothers who are breastpumping , find a spot that is as private and comfortable as possible. Bring along a picture of your baby, something to drink and perhaps a small snack. If you have difficulty letting down, take a few deep breaths, listen to some soothing music or imagine you baby nursing.
- You can store the milk you pump each day so that it is available for your baby the following day while you are at work. If a refrigerator is not available, use an insulated bag with multiple ice packs to keep the milk cold until you can get home.