Continue breastfeeding after returning to work – keeping up to produce more breast milk for your little one. A lot of breastfeeding mothers continue to breastfeed after returning to work. No doubt as a breastfeeding mother, you will face a lot of difficulties on work and breastfeeding and you will be exhausted, but with proper planning and adjustment, all difficulties would not be an obstacle to stop you from breastfeeding.
Difficulties of breastfeeding after returning to work
1. You might have thousands of questions and worries on how to continue breastfeeding and whether would you face the problem of low milk supply if you don’t breastfeed fully like before. Your first week of going back to work will always be overwhelming and tiring.
2. You might worry whether there would be a suitable place for pumping breast milk. Your employer might not provide a place at all to the breastfeeding moms to pump breast milk, and to store the breast milk.
3. Your working schedule might not allow you to carry out pumping regularly. You might not able to follow your planned pumping schedule because of some ad hoc meetings or frequent travel due to the job nature.
4. You might have questions on how to adjust your baby from full breastfeeding to partly breastfeeding.
5. Your life will become a lot busier with the tight schedule of exclusively pumping breast milk, attending to your work, and at the same time handling housework after reaching home. You will feel extremely exhausted.
6. You will feel uncomfortable with the possible criticism or comments from your colleagues on your pump, frequent break for milk pumping, and milk store in the company refrigerator.
How to Overcome the Difficulties
There are suggestions and tips provided below to help you overcoming the above difficulties, so that you could continue enjoying the best moment with your little one while breastfeed. You can find some advices for working moms on how to continuously produce more breast milk to ensure you are offering the best nutrition to your baby.
1. Convince and Commit Yourself
You need to convince yourself and those around you on the benefits of continue breastfeeding even after you have returned to your normal work. Get support from you partner, elder child, other family members, close friend and colleagues who are breastfeeding. Talk to them and convince them with the benefits and reasons of breastfeeding. Commit yourself, and enjoy the beautiful bond with your baby.
2. Plan and be Prepared
a. Talk and discuss with your employer about your needs of breastfeeding and pumping breast milk before going for maternity leave, so that you will know how to prepare yourself before returning to work. You could state the reasons and benefits of breastfeeding. At the same time, inform the employer that you would need a hygiene and private place for pumping milk. Mentioned the basic facilities that you will need, such as a small room with lock, table and chair, sink for washing and refrigerator. Try to work out something with your employer before going for maternity leave.
b. Before returning to work, prepare a checklist on things to bring to work, and get these things ready at night for the next morning. Things that you could include to your checklist such as breast pump, battery (if you use a battery operated breastpump), breast milk storage containers, ice-box (if no refrigerator at your workplace), nursing pads (in case of leaking), baby cloth and bottles to be brought to the babysitter. Get everything ready to go on the next morning.
c. Work out a pumping schedule on how many pumping breaks you will need during work. In order to maintain your milk supply, you could nurse your baby early in the morning when you wake up, and try to do a pumping before you leave home for work. During work, try to have at least a morning pump, another pump after lunch, and an afternoon pump. If you want to have more breast milk, you could pump more frequently, but your pumping break shall not affect your work; therefore, a proper planning is necessary. If you could not pump regularly as per your pumping schedule, it would not affect much to skip one or two sessions. However, you should not skip too many of the milk pumping sessions as that will result in low milk supply. Maximize the frequency of breastfeeding as much as possible. Always communicate with your baby care provider / babysitter to feed your baby enough to hold him / her until your evening feed after reaching home. When reaching home, don’t rush into preparing dinner. You could take a simple snack before feeding your baby. Enjoy the time for being together. You could have another 2 rounds of breastfeeding at night before you call the day off.
d. Practice how to use your breast pump at least 1 week before returning to work. Get yourself use to your breast pump. There are 4 types of breast pump in the market – tabletop breast pump, hand-powered manual breast pump, hand held batteries operated / electric breast pumps and foot-powered breast pump. So, select the type of breast pump most suitable to you, as it will work very closely with you everyday. You are also advised to use double breast pump, which would shorten the pumping time especially during working hours.
e. Practice bottle-feeding with your baby because when you send your baby to baby care provider / babysitter, your baby needs to take milk from bottle instead of your breast. Therefore, 1 week before returning to work, you could start your baby with bottle, of course with your breast milk. Disadvantage of starting your baby early with bottle might cause the baby refuses to suck from your breast any more. This is because baby will normally prefer a constant and smooth flow of milk when using bottle.
f. Prepare some work wear that is convenient for you to pump breast milk.Two-piece outfit gives baby easier access to breastfeeding if you need to nurse before you leave work or on site feeding at day care provider site. Loose blouse with prints could shield the leaking which might occur during work.
3. Work Options
a. You could select a babysitter or day care provider located near to your workplace; therefore, you would be able to carry on breastfeeding directly regularly.
b. Working part time is another good option to allow you having more time with your baby, and to carry on breastfeeding. You could work part-time when your baby is young and return to full time work when they grow older.
c. Some of the work might allow you to bring along your baby to work such as family business and shop. So, you could carry your baby with a sling carrier. This option would allow you to breastfeed your baby while working.
d. Home based work become more and more popular recently, and also could be a very good option for breastfeeding moms to continue breastfeeding at the same time reduces the financial burden of the family. The mother and baby would have a lot of time together.
e. For mothers who are not able to accommodate to the above option, you could express breast milk during working hours and carry on breastfeeding after work or during non-working days.
f. The last option is to breastfeed when you are with your baby, and provide formula milk when you are working.
4. Maximize the Frequency of Breastfeeding and Pumping
You should pump regularly to maintain milk supply/ to avoid low milk supply. Therefore, breastfeeding your baby full time when you are not working. Don’t let your baby forget about your breast. A lot of breastfeeding moms able to maintain enough breast milk for their baby with nursing whenever is possible and at the same time continue pumping breast milk.
5. Take Care of Yourself
You need to take good care of yourself by eating healthy and balance diet (see Diet of Breastfeeding Mothers), take enough rest to ensure the quality of your breast milk. Try to simplify your life, such as keeping a simple hairstyle which does not take much of your time in the morning before leaving to work. You could live on without doing all the housework everyday, just get your daily laundry done, preparing simple dinner and dish washing.
Breastfeeding mothers always juggle between work and breastfeeding. It is not easy, but at the same time it is not as difficult as you might expect. Commitment and persistency are the most important factors here. Keep up your milk supply with continuous breastfeeding and milk pumping. All the best to all the working mothers. Your best effort will be the best gift to your baby!