13 Breastfeeding Tips for Working Momsby Katlyn Joy | November 3, 2011
Returning to work after having your baby is enough of a challenge, however if you're a nursing mother the challenges may seem even greater at first. However, with some planning and preparation you can find breastfeeding and career solutions that will work for you.
1. Make sure your milk supply is well established before returning to work full time. If you are still struggling with building your milk supply pumping and extended periods away from baby may create difficulties with nursing that may overwhelm you to the point of quitting.
2. Invest in a good breast pump. Purchasing a less expensive and less powerful pump will mean frustration and much more time invested in pumping. A quick, powerful double-pump will be worth the investment. If the cost is prohibitive, contact your local WIC office or hospital to see if they have an affordable (or free) rental program.
3. Practice with the breast pump. Don't assume you'll get up to speed with the device quickly and wait until the weekend before your return to work to pull out the breast pump for the first time. You should learn to become efficient with it, and you need to set up a supply of milk to get you anyhow.
4. Have a breastfeeding friendly and knowledgeable caregiver. Having a daycare or babysitter who is savvy about nursing situations, dealing with fresh or frozen breastmilk and the rhythms and needs of nurslings will make your transition ever so much easier. She may even be able to give you some tips along the way based on previous experiences with other charges.
5. Consider getting up extra early to pump at your heaviest times. Many moms have fullest breasts first thing in the morning and taking advantage of that milk surplus only makes sense. While you might have to sacrifice a half hour or so of shut-eye, the time will likely be well worth it to you and baby.
6. Learn about the proper storage of breast milk. How long does breast milk stay good in the freezer? How soon after thawing do you need to use expressed milk? If you place pumped milk in the baby's bag right after pumping, how long will it stay good? You might want to print up a chart for those moments when you are overtired or overworked and cannot remember your own middle name let alone such facts.
7. Commit to the process. If you give yourself an out, chances are you'll take it in the early and difficult weeks of adjustment. Determine that you will stick with it at least 3 or 6 months then reassess. Make sure you have supportive people to cheer you on, be they family, friends or online breastfeeding buddies.
8. Decide if it's proving a challenge whether or not you'll supplement with formula. Sometimes despite our best intentions and efforts, things are overwhelming enough to cause us to consider quitting. If that's the case, you may want to consider nursing when you're home and supplementing with formula in your absence. There is no reason to deprive your child completely of the benefits of breastfeeding.
9. Find a good system of nipples, bottles, and cleaning methods for your pumping needs. Ask breastfeeding working moms for their recommendations for pumps, bottles and nipples. Some are better designed for the needs of the nursing baby and are less likely to cause the dreaded nipple confusion.
10. Work with your employer in advance to set up the best possible nursing situation. Find out where and when you'll be able to pump. Find out if you'll be able to slip off to a nearby sitter at lunch for nursing sessions, or if you have an onsite daycare if breastfeeding breaks are possible. Don't be afraid to be creative in your problem solving and try to create a workable solution to return to your job.
11. Simplify your mornings as much as you can. Have the baby's bag packed, your work clothes pressed and ready to slip on, and your briefcase at the door. Keep the car filled with gas and your keys and purse always in the same spot. If you keep morning chaos to a minimum your entire day, including breastfeeding demands, will go easier.
12. Expect some spilled milk. There will be times you must pump to ease engorged breasts but you won't have empty bottles or bags on hand. You may also be surprised at how easily your milk let down reflex is set off by a crying baby, not your own, or even thinking about your little darling. Just be prepared with breast pads, or perhaps even pack an extra shirt just in case into the breast pump bag.
13. Take care of yourself. Nothing is bigger than this one. If you neglect your needs, you will soon be too depleted to meet anyone else's. You must eat healthy meals, drink plenty of good beverages especially milk, water and juices. Don't feel bad if you take a short siesta while the pump drones away. Put your feet up and relax when you can and make sure you get plenty of real uninterrupted sleep whenever possible.
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