You’ve spent the last few weeks sleep deprived, knee deep in poopy diapers, with a baby latched on to your breasts. Your maternity leave is quickly coming to an end, and you’re worried about whether you’ll be able to continue to breastfeed when you head back to work.
If you’re a nursing mom who’s planning on returning to work, you’ll want to keep reading and check out this infographic from Mom Loves Best so that you can make pumping at work a success.
Not all employers are supportive of breastfeeding. Knowing your rights will help make the transition easier and help get your boss off your back. Under the “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law, employers with 50 or more employees must provide nonexempt (hourly) employees with reasonable breaks and a private place, other than a bathroom, to pump. If you aren’t covered under this federal law, try not to panic, and contact your state breastfeeding coalition to see if a state law covers you.
Weeks before you return to work you’ll want to be sure that you have a quality double electric breast pump (use this guide to help you choose the right one). You'll also need the parts to go with it, such as extra valves and membranes, storage bags, bottles, and a cooler with an ice pack if you don't have access to a fridge. You’ll also want to be sure to have someone other than you practice giving your baby a bottle. You may have to experiment a little to figure out which kind of bottle your baby prefers.
When you’re getting closer to returning, you will want to start pumping once a day to build a freezer stash for that first day back and for times when your milk supply may dip, like when you’re sick or when you’re period is about to return. You’ll also want to get in contact with your boss to let them know you’re breastfeeding and discuss your plans for pumping at work.
A week before you officially head back to work, do a trial run with your daycare provider and make sure they are knowledgeable and comfortable with paced bottle feeding and properly handling breast milk. Swing by your work to see how long it will take you to get there from the daycare.
Be prepared for one emotional week your first week back at work. The stress may hit you hard, and your milk supply may suffer because of it. The best thing you can do is to not worry about how much you're pumping. Sitting there watching those bottles slowly fill will only make matters worse. Invest in a hands-free pumping bra and come up with ways you can multitask to get your mind off the milk and get more work done.
Nurse your baby on demand at nights and on weekends. I’m sure you both will have missed the bonding time during the weekdays.
Hang in there mama, those first few months will be rough, and you’ll always have bad days, but you’ll find the right balance for you, your career, and your family.
Jenny Silverstone is the mother of two, a writer and a breastfeeding advocate. You can find sharing information for overcoming common breastfeeding struggles like low milk supply, latching issues and more on her blog MomLovesBest.com
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