How To Continue Breastfeeding Baby After Returning To Work

Breastfeeding has tremendous benefits for moms and babies. Sometimes continuing to nurse after returning to work outside the home is easier said than done. Here are some tips to help you continue nursing and stay connected to your baby when you go back to work.
Ami Burns

Whether you’re going to work a few hours a week or full time, you may have concerns about if this whole “breastfeeding working-mom thing” is actually going to work!  Cathy Carothers, Marketing Director for The International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) and Co-Director of Every Mother, Inc. explains the top concerns many new, working moms have – and how to make nursing and working a great experience:

Get support from co-workers and your boss
If you work with other breastfeeding moms – or are the first one – having the nursing/pumping conversation with your boss may be tricky. “Explain that breastfeeding benefits everybody,” says Carothers. “When baby is healthier, it lowers healthcare costs for everyone. When she doesn’t have to miss work, it benefits her boss and it’s good for co-workers because someone doesn’t have to cover for her.”

Keep up milk production
Start “stockpiling” milk by expressing and storing it about two weeks before going back to work. According to the Human Milk Bank of America, milk will stay good in the refrigerator for up to eight days, in a refrigerator freezer compartment up to six months and in a separate, deep freezer for up to one year.

Try to pump according to your baby’s schedule
If she feeds every four hours, you’ll want to express every four hours. If you miss a pumping session due to a long meeting once in a while, it shouldn’t hinder your milk supply. But don’t go too much longer on a regular basis or you’ll start the weaning process before you – and your baby – are ready. Breastfeed whenever you can – before and after work, bedtime and on the weekends.

If you’re concerned about making enough milk, it may be helpful to talk to a board-certified Lactation Consultant. Talk to your baby’s doctor or check the ILCA website to find one near you.

Find a clean, private nursing area
Depending on your workplace environment, this can be easier said than done. Not all moms have a private office and in many cases creativity is key. Carothers encourages moms and employers to think outside the box. She’s heard it all – agriculture workers who pump in the tractor; fast food servers who work a split shift so they can take time out during the day to breastfeed their baby – and employers who created a lactation space by putting up dividers around cubicles or converting an unused storage closet. Don’t nurse in a bathroom – you wouldn’t want to eat your lunch there and it’s not a sanitary place to make baby food.

Find a caregiver close to work
Some moms choose to find a caregiver close to work instead of home so they can nurse their babies instead of having to pump. “I would take him to the sitter’s in the morning and nurse him there,” explains Tammy Wheatley. “My sitter was a supportive breastfeeding mom committed to making this work for us. At noon I went to the sitter’s and nursed him, then would nurse him at the end of the day when I went to pick him up.”

With support from your baby’s caregiver and your boss, you’ll gain confidence in your dual role as new mom and employee and be able to continue providing healthy food for your baby.

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