Working and Breastfeeding
Women have been combining work with motherhood for thousands of years. Since babies get their nutrition directly from their mothers, society expected moms and babies to be literally joined at the hip for the first year or more. It’s only been in recent history that “going back to work” has been a potential roadblock to continuing to breastfeed. Although it is normal to work while caring for baby, our modern world and societal expectations often requires moms to be separate from baby while working.
So, is it really possible to continue breastfeeding while working away from baby? Absolutely! It takes some planning and commitment, but as a mother, you’re already committed to your baby and you’re probably a master planner and multi-tasker! Just make sure you have the tools and information you need to be successful.
If you are working more than 20 hours a week, you will need a professional-grade breastpump that is designed to be used every day, several times a day for a year or more. Expect to pay 200 to 300 dollars. Some very good brands include: Medela, Hygeia and Ameda. My clients generally prefer Hygeia pumps. They have some advantages over the other companies. You can see for yourself at www.hygeiababy.com.
Talk to your employer and colleagues about your plan to continue breastfeeding while working. Keep in mind that continuing to breastfeed is not only good for you and baby, but good for your boss and co-workers as well! Research shows that you will be a more productive, dedicated employee if you can continue to meet your baby’s needs while working.
Find other mothers in your workplace who have pumped at work. Learn from them! They will be an important source of information and support.
Before you return to work, make sure your baby knows how to take your milk from a bottle or cup. Give your baby at least 2 weeks to learn this new skill.
Store a few bottles of milk in the freezer just in case! Accidents happen—milk gets spilled, milk gets left at work, etc. You don’t, however, need a whole freezer full of milk! Remember you’ll be replacing what your baby drinks every day.
If possible, visit your baby at lunch. Or arrange for your baby to be brought to you. Mothers who have access to their babies breastfeed longer. This practice will also do wonders for your milk supply!
Most importantly, take care of yourself. Learn to delegate! Make sure you eat well. Eating a nutritious snack during your pumping sessions will ensure you get sufficient calories while on the job. Working and mothering are two very big jobs. You can’t get too much rest! If you take the time to nurture yourself, along with your baby, everyone wins.