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How to Return to Work While Breastfeeding
August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be breastfed for the first 12 months of their life. If you are a new mom, you know this is often easier said than done. Breastfeeding can be difficult, time consuming and painful... However – it can also be rewarding and can help foster an even stronger bond between mother and child. In addition, breast milk has been shown to contain health benefits that can aid a child's health for years to come.
One of the biggest challenges facing a nursing mom is what to do when she has to go back to work. This is already an emotional and trying time and figuring out how to supply breast milk to your growing baby while working outside the home can be overwhelming. Here are some things to consider if you will be navigating this process in the near future.
First, plan ahead. If you feel comfortable, talk to your employer (either your boss or your HR department representative) about your plans to continue to breastfeed after returning to work. Your employer must provide you with a private and sanitary place to pump (not the bathroom stall!). Think about your work schedule and your baby's feeding schedule and determine what the best time(s) will be for you to pump. If your baby is young and nursing often, you may need to pump two or three times a day in order to maintain the appropriate milk supply. If your baby is older, once a day may be enough.
Also consider the equipment you will need. Where and how you will store the milk at work? A refrigerator is great but a good cooler will work too. And of course a high quality breast pump is worth the investment. Many maternity stores rent pumps. If you are having trouble finding a rental, ask the staff at your doctor's office or the OB department in your hospital.
It is important that you feel comfortable with pumping well before you return to work. Begin pumping well in advance – this will give you a chance to begin storing some milk and will also give your baby a chance to become comfortable with the bottle.
Work with your daycare provider to ensure that they understand your wishes in regards to the feeding of your baby. Be sure they understand that your breast milk is a valuable commodity – it should not go to waste! But, by the same token, it should be used too. Set guidelines for when and how other foods (or formula) can be given to your baby. Also establish a good system for the transfer and storage of breast milk. Make sure there is always a little extra milk on hand in case your baby has a growth spurt or extra milk is needed.
When you are home, breastfeed as often as possible. This will help prevent your milk supply from decreasing, which can be one of the biggest challenges a nursing working mom faces. Also, it can help both you and your baby feel connected to each other.
Even though the return to work can be a stressful time, try and take of yourself. Eat well, get as much sleep as possible and take time for yourself. If you are not healthy and rested, your milk supply will be affected which will only make the return to work more challenging. As with all things in motherhood, you cannot care for your child unless you take care of yourself first!
To learn more about the OB services and Family Birth Centers available at the Sacramento area Dignity Health hospitals, visit our website.