Guest Post by Giselle from www.katherinerosman.com:
My name is Giselle and I left the corporate world to become a full time Mom of a beautiful boy, and Editor of katherinerosman.com. This is a small site that we are growing quickly with the aim of becoming a central resource for Mom’s that will provide actionable advice and info guides. I have found so much support through online Mom communities and I am grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to the information that is out there, and hopefully help others in their own journey along the way.
Tips for a Successful Return to Work while Breastfeeding
When returning to work there are a number of practicalities that you will need to consider now that you cannot be with your baby every day. If you have been exclusively breastfeeding then the most immediate question is what and how will they eat?
It is entirely possible to continue your breastfeeding journey through this transition. All it takes is some planning, and effort and a little bit of determination.
We have prepared a number of tips to help you navigate what is an emotional time for any mother. While ensuring that you can maintain your commitment to giving your baby the best start possible in life.
Prepare the Right Equipment
For as long as you choose to keep your baby on an all breast milk diet you will be lugging around a fair bit of equipment each day. Once you get into the routine this will feel normal very quickly.
Depending on the facilities available in your office – and the nature of your schedule – you can amend this list to suit your needs. I often had to just pump at my desk due to time constraints. This required a few extra pieces to make sure I stayed work appropriate:
- A reliable electric breast pump,
- Nursing cover for additional coverage and modesty,
- An abundance of bags and/or bottles for storing your milk,
- And a cooler to keep your milk cold until you get home.
Your breast pump will be the central piece of equipment in your kit bag. Ideally, you want an electric pump with a closed system – to prevent bacterial contamination – that allows you to pump both sides at once. Selecting a model that comes with a tote bag will ensure you have a purpose built way to transport the thing around.
I didn’t have the luxury of time, so I used a nursing cover to pump at my desk. Aside from the low humming noise of the pump, this allowed me to go about my business without disturbin anyone. But if your office has dedicated facilities you wont need this.
Storage of the milk is critical so that all your hard work doesn’t go to waste. Some workplaces have a real shortage of fridge space. So keeping a small cooler bag and some ice packs will allow you to take care of this yourself – without the risk of someone adding your supply to their morning coffee.
Start Building Your Stock
Establishing a pumping routine prior to your return date will help you build up a surplus of breast milk before you spend time away. This will take the pressure off you early on, just incase you forget your ice packs one day and cant transport your supply home.
It will also help your body get into the routine of regular pumping sessions and should train your body to produce more milk.
You can ease your body into this routine by starting a few weeks ahead of time. If you pump both sides about 30-60 minutes after your baby has eaten then this will still allow your body enough time to rest before your baby is ready to eat again.
Once you get back to work, you can go back to a normal schedule, pumping at the same interval that your baby would normally eat.
Know How to Store Milk
If you don’t store your milk properly, you may compromise its quality by allowing bacteria to grow. This can be harmful to your baby.
It is best to store your milk in the fridge if you have one available. Your supply can be consumed for up to three days after being expressed when stored at 39 degrees Fahrenheit).
Freezing your milk will extend its shelf life considerably. But make sure you have a sound labeling system so you can stick to a first in, first out consumption method.
Keeping milk at room temperature is not recommended. It is only good for about 4 hours, but it is recommended that you use it in 2 hours or less for the best quality.
Dress for the Job
Pumping at work will already be an inconvenience to your day. You can remove another complication by wearing clothes that are compatible with easy access for pumping.
Dresses may not be unless they have a loose top section that can be pulled aside to expose your breast for pumping. You would be better off with separate pieces, wearing a top that can easily be lifted or moved to place your pump underneath.
There are also clothing ranges that are especially designed for this purpose. They have little “peek-a-boo” sections that move aside near the breasts to make it easier to latch your baby or use your pump without exposing your belly or back.
Whether they match your desired corporate attire is another story though.
Check with Your Company’s Policies
In most states it is a legal obligation to provide a place for working mothers to pump and allow for appropriate break times in order to do so. My own lack of time mentioned above was self-imposed – we did have break times and areas to accommodate the other moms in the office.
Talk with your employer to find out what policies they have in place and give them a heads up about what you will need upon returning to work.
You do not need to hide in the bathroom to pump whenever you can find the time. There is increasing public awareness of these issues and you should feel comfortable and free to do what you need to for your body and your baby.
Create a To-Go Bag
Mornings can be a frantic time with a young baby in the house. Remove that stress from your life by doing all your cleaning and maintenance the night before and place your bag of goodies next to your front door.
If you forget something a whole day of supply may go to waste, and you may also feel very uncomfortable if you are not expressing regularly.
So prepare a checklist and leave it on your fridge to tick off every night such as the following:
- Breast pump (duh!) with all components
- Bags or bottles for storage
- Extra breast pads
- Extra shirt (in case of leaks)
- Water bottle and snacks
This will prevent you from trying to find those last-minute things in the morning. Plus, when you are prepared, you have more time to spend with your baby in the morning before work.
Focus on Consistency
Pay attention to any areas in your routine that are causing you stress, and change as you go to ensure what you are doing is sustainable.
The effort you are putting in will generate considerable long-term benefits for you and your baby. Focus on this and power on through, and know that your reward will be waiting for you every day when you get home to that sweet little bundle of joy.
And remember that every additional day of high quality nutrition will make a difference.