Go Back to Work and Continue
to Breastfeed? Yes, You Can!
For lactation assistance,
please call 760-828-8090
Ask any mother working outside
the home: Juggling family and job responsibilities is a daily
balancing act. Mothers with brand-new babies face even greater
challenges. The longer you are able to stay home, the better.
However, if you are getting ready to return to work after the
birth of a baby, you might be concerned about how to continue
to breastfeed. But don't worry. With some advance planning, it
is possible to combine work and breastfeeding successfully.
It is typical for any new
mother returning to work to feel fatigued and to experience a
sense of loss over leaving her new baby in someone else's
care. If you have been breastfeeding your baby, you may feel
even more sadness at the prospect of having to cease a natural
process that has protected your infant's health and created
such a powerful, nurturing bond between you and your baby.
The good news is that you don't
have to stop breastfeeding your baby. Medical professionals
agree that both you and your baby will gain many health
benefits from breastfeeding. You'll need some patience to see
you through a period of adjustment. But the choice is yours.
Return to work and continue to breastfeed. Yes, you can!
Create Employee Awareness
Fortunately, more and more
employers institute company-sponsored support for
breastfeeding mothers. For example, a Corporate Lactation
Program includes prenatal education and post-natal counseling
provided by an on-site lactation professional, as well as
time, space and equipment for women to pump their breast milk
at work. Other companies may not have a full-fledged program,
but will allow women to take the time they need during the day
to pump their breast milk.
Talk with your employer before
your baby is born. You may want to extend your maternity
leave, work part-time for a period, job share, or work at home
part of each day or week. If your company does not have a
lactation program, now may be the time to investigate starting
one. In lieu of a formal program, however, try to make your
Explain to your employer the
health benefits of breastfeeding for your baby. When baby is
sick, mother often must be absent from work. The prospect of
less absenteeism among breastfeeding mothers is a bonus for
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
Give your caregiver explicit
written instructions on how to store breast milk. Explain
that, if possible, your baby should not be fed within a couple
of hours of your return. That way, he will be ready to
breastfeed as soon as you arrive at the caregiver's after
work. If baby is hungry before you arrive, the caregiver
should tide baby over with some water or a snack-sized portion
of stored breast milk.
Breastfeeding Helpful Hints
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 3 to
4 weeks), introduce a bottle. This step prepares your baby for
bottle feeding during the day while you are at work. Keep in
mind that babies usually associate breastfeeding with mom.
Consequently, in the beginning, some babies are more receptive
to a bottle if it is offered to them from someone other than
Purchase or rent a high-quality
automatic-cycling electric breastpump. For example, Medela's
Lactina® is state-of-the-art in performance, safety
and convenience. Or the Pump
In StyleTM pump is stored in a stylish
designer-look shoulder bag that can be discreetly carried
wherever busy mothers need to go. Both run on regular
electricity or can be operated by vehicle lighter. The Lactina
even has a battery option called the PowerPakTM.
Other small pumps may not be able to maintain your milk supply
on a long-term basis.
Use a double-pumping
kit with your electric breastpump. By emptying both
breasts simultaneously, most mothers can complete a pumping
session in just 10 to 15 minutes, which easily fits into a
break period or lunch time.
Breast milk availability works
on a supply and demand basis. Maintaining a good milk supply
depends on the regular stimulation provided by baby or by
pumping. Double pumping helps increase your prolactin levels,
which helps maintain milk supply. This benefit is important to
working mothers who might have difficulty maintaining their
milk supply because baby isn't always available for breast
familiarize yourself with the pump and help build up milk
supply start using your electric
pump after breastfeeding is well established (three- four
weeks post-partum ). When your infant is three weeks
old, or one to two months prior to your return to work,
Double pump (pump both breasts at the same time) 15-20 minutes
one time a day 1 hour after a nursing session. You may want to
do this 5-7 days a week. Freeze one bottle
and use the other to train your infant to take a bottle one
time a day. (Good idea to have your caretaker or Dad feed the
bottle with an Orthodonic nipple. You ‘ll find freezer
storage bags a convenient way to store Breastmilk long
term. It’s ideal to have at least 40 bags of milk stored
upon return to work.
To ease your transition back to
work, try to return midweek so that you have only a few days
before the weekend. Plan to breastfeed at least once before
you leave in the morning. If you can, go home or to your
daycare facility at lunchtime to breastfeed, or have your baby
brought to you. If breastfeeding during the lunch hour is not
possible, plan to pump two or three times during the day at
work. (Remember, if you are using a double-pumping kit, that's
just about 45 minutes of your work day.)
Breastfeed as soon as you can
after you return home or 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, 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 your
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 a cooler case. Medela offers a number of options,
including a soft-sided carrying case for the Lactina
Breastpump with a built-in cooler and cooling elements that
work with the Pump In Style bag.
Human milk can be kept in the
refrigerator for up to 5-7 days at 39 degrees F. (Sosa,
Roberta; Barness, Lewis: AJDC, Vol. 141, Jan. 1987.) If you
must keep it longer, label the bottles with the date and store
them in a home freezer. If you plan on freezing freshly
expressed milk, do so as soon as possible after expression.
Breast milk will keep in the back part of the freezer portion
of a home refrigerator-freezer for up to six months. It will
keep in a freezer with temperature -20 degrees C for up to 12
months. Thaw frozen milk in warm water; do not microwave or