While many new moms have the best intentions to continue breastfeeding after returning to work, a number of breastfeeding moms feel they must stop breastfeeding prematurely due to work-related issues. Some of the top issues include (1) having no designated place to pump breast milk and (2) having no place to store pumped breast milk.
Even though the health benefits of breastfeeding for both baby and mother are undisputed, returning to work can leave breastfeeding moms feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
While many mothers might worry that returning to work will disrupt the breastfeeding routine they’ve worked so hard to establish, it is absolutely possible and even common for women to breastfeed and return to work outside the home. It just takes some extra planning, commitment, and flexibility.
Here are four tips to help moms successfully ease the transition back to working outside of the home and continue to breastfeed while working:
Get a Quality Breast Pump:
Some breastfeeding moms find that using an electric breast pump helps to keep up their milk supply better than manual pumping and allows for pumping enough milk to have on hand while they are at work. But at the end of the day, the choice depends on what works best for you. Many insurance policies will cover the cost of a breast pump.
If you choose to get an electric pump, look for one that allows you to easily control both the speed and the suction in a way that enhances milk flow by mimicking your baby’s natural nursing pattern. The Medela Pump in Style comes with a discreet tote bag, a portable battery. It is also equipped with a patented and research-based system called 2-Phase Expression Technology that it says allows mothers to produce more milk in less time.
If you prefer a manual breast pump, the Medela Harmony is a great option. It also offers 2-Phase Expression Technology, where one lever is designed for use when you are preparing for let down and a second lever for use when the milk is actually flowing.
Build Up a Stash Ahead of Time
If possible, it’s a good idea to start pumping and freezing some milk at least 2 to 3 weeks before returning to work. The stash doesn’t have to be huge. One important benefit of building up even a small stash is that it really helps you get into a rhythm while pumping. While building up a stash you are also helping your body become acclimated to the pump. Make sure you have some breast milk storage bags, which are specially designed for freezing and safely storing expressed breast milk.
Talk to Your Employer Ahead of Time
It is really helpful to talk to your employer, supervisor, and/or human resources contact about your pumping schedule ahead of time so there are no surprises. You can also work together with them to plan a designated pumping area that is safe, clean, and private–that way you can pump in comfort without being disturbed. You can also point out the many benefits of breastfeeding for the employer and spread the word to help breastfeeding moms in the future!
Pump as Often as You’d Feed Your Baby From the Breast
You’ll have the most success if you stick to a pumping schedule that mimics your baby’s normal feeding schedule. As a general rule, it is best to pump every two to three hours that you will be away from your baby.
Feed From the Tap Whenever Possible
Whenever you are not away from your baby, do your best to let baby breastfeed “from the tap” in order to maintain and build up your milk supply.