by: Andrea Ippolito of SimpliFed
Breastfeeding is already hard work and it can be pretty confusing deciding whether to continue it when returning to the workplace. But going back to work doesn’t mean you have to stop breastfeeding. While you may have to adjust your nursing relationship depending on your job and the age of your baby, it’ll be well worth the effort continuing it so you keep on bonding with your child and keep providing breast milk, which is composed of many different types of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, water, and antibodies that can help boost the baby’s immune system and also helps support mom’s health as well! The AAP states breastfeeding helps reduce postpartum blood loss and reduce the risk for postpartum depression, type-2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer for mom. Here are a few tips to work breastfeeding into your daily routine!
Speak with your Employer
It’s important to talk things through with your employer, including HR, and share your nursing plans and needs. You need to have a private place (lactation room, private office) where you can pump milk for your baby and also may need to have your pumping schedule (use your new-mother intuition!) approved because it can ultimately contribute towards lost work time. Legally, employers are required to do a health and safety risk assessment for breastfeeding mothers, so make sure to notify them in writing a few weeks before you return to work. Also be sure to explain that being able to pump regularly will reduce any risk of you becoming engorged and developing mastitis. Along with speaking with your employer, your first stop should be to talk with a friend or colleague at work that also breastfed or pumped at work. They will give you the lay of the land and also help you point you in the right direction with who to speak with or the resources available to you. If you are the first person at your workplace to breastfeed, never fear! You can start with HR and share with them this link from HHS.
What You’ll Need
In addition to having a private place to pump, you need to find the right breast milk pump for you because it really could make all the difference. First, check whether your health insurance will cover the cost. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires health insurance plans to cover the cost of a breast pump, either a rental unit or a new one you’ll keep. Something else to consider is how you want your pump powered (manually, battery, and electric) and whether you prefer having it work on both breasts at the same time or one breast at a time.
At first, it will be a challenge to stimulate the letdown reflex, also known as the milk ejection reflex. Try to become familiar with the equipment in advance to ease the stress of an on-the-job pumping session. Make sure to hold onto extra clothes in case of an accident and bring a nursing shawl or blanket for privacy if pumping in a common area. You will also need to know how to transport, freeze, and thaw your breast milk since it is perishable. Thus, access to a refrigerator, an insulated tote (such as a cooler), and storage bags or bottles is critical to keep it from spoiling.
To help reserve the time, make sure to block up time on your calendar to protect that time and ensure no one books over your pumping time at work. By having it protected on your calendar, this will help you get into a routine and ensure people don’t take that time away from you.
It’s usually best to express milk every three hours while you are away from your baby. In fact, the morning is usually the most productive time for pumping. At first, you may need to pump or express your milk more frequently than normal so you don’t feel uncomfortably full or start to leak. Just know that if your breasts feel full, you likely need to express some milk. With time you’ll have fewer problems with leaking. Don’t stress out if your milk supply is dwindling some days because you can always access your stored freezer milk as a back-up.
Take a look at this post with an infant feeding infographic and worksheet to better understand your different feeding options and think through your infant feeding decisions
Breastfeeding as a working mom is an extraordinary challenge. While it may seem overwhelming at first, there are many rewards to sticking it out. You will be able to reconnect with your baby after being apart and will be offering him/her wonderful nutrition and immunity protections. We want to remind you that while breastfeeding has many benefits to both the mom and the baby, infant formula contains all of the necessary nutrients for a healthy baby as well. Ultimately, this is a personal choice and we at SimpliFed are here to support you and believe in both #normalizingbreastfeeding and #fedisbest.
If you want to chat through these challenges, we are here for you! Right now, as part of World Breastfeeding Week, we are offering a 20% discount for all of Adriana’s community. Once you book an appointment, you will enter the 4FS20 code in your intake form. You can sign up for their newsletter or book an appointment via this link.