How To Continue Breastfeeding After Returning To Work

Breastfeeding After Returning to Work

Coming back to work from your maternity leave is a huge adjustment. While you will not be able to physically nurse your baby as often as you used to, providing her with expressed breast milk is well worth it. If you plan to breastfeed your baby after returning to work, there are many things to think about. When you make your initial plan, it is important to coordinate with your partner, employer, and your infant’s caregiver.

Get the Right Gear: Because Pumping Shouldn't Suck (the Life Out of You)

Working moms have to be efficient, and it may be difficult if it takes you a half an hour to empty each breast. Consider investing in a dual hospital-grade pump that empties both breasts at the same time. Make sure you have plenty of milk storage bags, a lunch bag, and several ice packs. You'll need several baby bottles with slow flow nipples that mimic mom’s breast. This way, your baby is less likely to develop nipple confusion. Purchase extra nursing bras and nursing tops to make pumping quicker and more efficient.

Determine Your Nursing Schedule: Keep Your Sanity Intact

According to the CDC, about 60% of mothers in the U.S. combine breastfeeding with work. You will have to get ready for work every morning, so you may need to put her on a nursing schedule to streamline your morning routine. Figure out whether you can make it home (or to the daycare) during the lunch hour to nurse your baby and to take the time to bond with her. Ask your partner or caregiver to feed your baby in a way that allows you to nurse her when you get home from work.

Pumping Logistics: Find Your Sanctuary

Ask your employer for a private room that you can use and talk about taking extra breaks to pump. Explain to your supervisor why it is important and communicate to them how you plan on meeting the demands of your job. To keep your milk supply high and to prevent engorgement, you will have to express your breast milk approximately as often as your baby nurses or at least twice during your workday. The U.S. Department of Labor mandates that employers provide reasonable break time and a private place (other than a bathroom) for mothers to pump.

Milk Storage Solutions: Keep It Fresh, Keep It Safe

It is best to store breast milk in the refrigerator in your break room. You can put the storage bag in a separate container to conceal it. If a refrigerator is not available, you can store the milk in an insulated lunch bag with a few ice packs. Remember that you can only store the milk in a cooler for a few hours, so try to get it home as soon as possible and refrigerate or freeze it. For detailed guidelines, check out the CDC's guidelines on storing and handling breast milk.

Partner and Caregiver Instructions: Keep the Crew in the Loop

Make sure they understand how to thaw, store, and transport breast milk, as well as when they should discard it. Explain to them that they cannot microwave breast milk and that bottles must be washed after each use. Nurse your baby as often as you can when you are home. It will provide her with vital nutrients directly from the source, give you time to bond, and stimulate milk production. For more tips, visit the La Leche League's guide to pumping.


Wrapping Up: You’ve Got This, Supermom!

Returning to work and continuing to breastfeed is no small feat. It requires planning, coordination, and a bit of finesse. But with the right gear, a solid plan, and support from your partner and caregiver, you can make it work. Remember, every ounce of breast milk you provide is a testament to your dedication and love for your little one. So, hang in there, keep pumping, and give yourself a pat on the back for being an absolute rock star mom!

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