No breastfeeding mother looks forward to going back to work and leaving their babies. But it’s simply not an option for the majority of women today because of financial liabilities. Earlier most working mothers used to nurse as much as they can and then wean before their maternity leave ends and they go back to work. But today more and more moms are choosing to continue to nurse even after they re-enter the workforce.
The World Health Organization (WHO) officially also recommends mothers breastfeed until three years of age. (Yes, you did read that right!) Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers should breastfeed “at least until one year of age and then as long as baby and mother mutually want to.”
Although breastfeeding after returning to work is tricky but not impossible. Here are the tips on how to make it work for you and your baby once you start work.
Select an appropriate pump
Top-end electric pumps are a popular choice for moms who return to work full-time, which will empty their breasts quickly and efficiently. When buying a pump, do check whether that brand offers different fit options. Pump fit is not about breast size; it’s about nipple size. It refers to how well your nipples fit into the pump opening or “nipple tunnel” that your nipple is pulled into during pumping. Pump nipple tunnels come in different sizes. Fit is an important aspect of pump comfort and efficiency.
Building a stash
As per doctors, babies need 26 ounces per day and will finish six feedings in a 24-hour period. This means that in a 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. workday you will miss three feedings. So you do not need to start pumping until two weeks before going back to work. Do remember even with a good pump, the stimulation you get while separated from your baby will be less than you are getting while you are together. Also, there is no pump on the market that is as efficient as the baby at removing milk and stimulating your supply. Try to have at least 16 ounces on hand.
Storing breast milk
How you store your breastmilk depends on how soon you want to use it. If you plan to use it within a few days, refrigerating is better than freezing. Freezing destroys some of the substances in your milk that fight infection. Frozen breastmilk is still a healthier choice for your baby than formula, though. Wash your hand before pumping and always store the expressed milk in a clean, capped glass or hard plastic, BPA-free container.
Take breaks at regular intervals
Most women’s milk is more abundant in the morning. And by kicking the day off with some additional demand, pumping in the morning offers the benefit of setting you up for a more milk-productive day. Feed and burp your baby, then set her up somewhere comfortable, and sit down to the pump. Then at work take breaks at regular intervals (ideally, about every three hours) during your day in order to have time to pump. In the first few days or even weeks, you might get very little milk when you do this. But stick with it, and don’t worry, you will see the volume go up over time.
Introduce a bottle
If you are going back to work at 6 weeks, you could start introducing your baby to a bottle about two weeks beforehand. Starting earlier is sometimes suggested to prevent bottle refusal. However, there is no way of telling ahead of time whether your baby will go happily from breast to bottle and back again.
Select a care provider at home or a Daycare
The separation involved when going back to work is hard on everyone. Your baby will miss you as much as you will miss him, so you will want to allow enough time for both you and your baby to become familiar with his caregivers, the centre, and their routines. Seek out supportive daycare and discuss your plans to breastfeed beforehand. Also, Ask about how they would store your milk and explain the baby’s feeding schedule. Here are some priorities to keep in mind while looking for a daycare for your child.
A healthy diet
However, if your diet is too low in calories or relies on one food group at the exclusion of others, this could affect the quality and quantity of your milk. Eating small meals with healthy snacks in between – the way you may have done during pregnancy – is a good way to keep your hunger in check and your energy level high. Variety and balance are key to a healthy diet. Eating a mix of carbohydrates protein, and fat at meals keeps you feeling full longer and supplies the nutrients your body needs. Here is a list of food items to increase breast milk supply.