Women have been combining work with motherhood for thousands of years. Since babies get their nutrition directly from their mothers, society expected moms and babies to be literally joined at the hip for the first year or more. It’s only been in recent history that “going back to work” has been a potential roadblock to continuing to breastfeed. Although it is normal to work while caring for baby, our modern world and societal expectations often requires moms to be separate from baby while working.
So, is it really possible to continue breastfeeding while working away from baby?Absolutely! It takes some planning and commitment, but as a mother , you’re already committed to your baby and you’re probably a master planner and multi-tasker! Just make sure you have the tools and information you need to be successful.
If you are working more than 20 hours a week, you will need a professional-grade breastpump that is designed to be used every day, several times a day for a year or more. Expect to pay 200 to 300 dollars. Some very good brands include: Medela, Hygeia and Ameda. (Hygeia is a brand new company. Check them out at www.hygeiababy.com)
Talk to you employer and colleagues about your plan to continue breastfeeding while working. Find other mothers in your workplace who have pumped at work. Determine where you will pump.
Before you return to work, make sure your baby knows how to take your milk from a bottle or cup or even a spoon. Give your baby at least 2 weeks to learn this new skill.
Store a few bottles of milk in the freezer just in case! Accidents happen—milk gets spilled, milk gets left at work, etc. You don’t need a whole freezer full of milk! Remember you’ll be replacing what your baby drinks every day!
If possible, visit your baby at lunch. Or arrange for your baby to be brought to you. Mothers who have access to their babies breastfeed longer.
Most importantly, take care of yourself. Learn to delegate! Make sure you eat well and sleep whenever you can. Remember, you have two jobs now!
See related article: Working and Breastfeeding: A Checklist.
Written by Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC. Renee is a lactation consultant in private practice in Seattle, Washington. She is available for home/hospital visits and phone consultations. Renee can be reached at www.second9months.com