Breastfeeding Tips for Working Mothers
Breastfeeding Tips by Arrington
Breastfeeding Tips #1 - Try it
If you are not sure that you can continue breastfeeding after you return to work, try it for at least 30 days. Read Working and Breastfeeding Made Easy.
You are your baby’s best source of nutrition, immunities and bonding. Many women work and breastfeed for a year or more. There are so many reasons that you should breastfeed your baby.
Breastfeeding Tips #2 - Get Off to a Good Start
The second of my breastfeeding tips is to take as much maternity leave as you can after your baby is born. This will give you as much time as possible to bond. It will also make returning to work easier because baby’s nap and feeding routines usually stabilize between three and four months old. Make a point to focus on your baby and getting enough sleep while you are out on maternity leave. Also be sure to drink plenty of water to replace the fluid you are losing while nursing. Need some motivation? Read Why You Should Breastfeed Your Baby.
Breastfeeding Tips #3 - Plan Your Return
Consider returning to work on a Wednesday or Thursday so that both you and baby can ease into the new routine. This way you will be less exhausted when the weekend arrives. Better yet, if your employer is flexible consider returning part time for a few weeks before starting up full time work again.
Call Human Resources before you return to work to find out where the Mothers Room is in your building. Explain your intention to express breastmilk for your baby. Human Resources is usually very helpful. Only larger companies are required to provide a mothers room so that their working mothers can nurse or express milk while at work. If you work for a smaller company, consider using your car as your perfect pumping place.
Here are some more great tips for Working and Breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding Tips #4 - Simplify Pumping
Find a pump that works well for you. My favorite is the
Medela Pump and Go
because I can set it on the tiniest ledge and open the front to provide a nice CLEAN shelf for me to put my pump attachments and bottles/bags on while I am pumping.
Make sure you always have a bottle of water to drink while you pump. Get in the habit of drinking at least 8 oz of filtered water every time you pump (or nurse for that matter). Wear clothes that are easy to pump in. I invested in a couple pairs of black pants along with a couple knit tops that I could pair with a business jacket if necessary. That way I only needed to pull up my shirt to pump.
I also invested in a
Medela Easy Expression Hands Free Pumping Bustier
because it was easy for me to zip on and slide up under my work shirt on top of my nursing bra. Then it was simply a matter of attaching the pump attachments and the pump bra would hold them in place.
Alternatively, some nursing bras also double as pumping bras
La Leche 4105 Hands Free Pumping & Nursing Softcup Bra
but I never liked them because my babies didn’t like fabric covering my breasts while they were nursing. They preferred the nursing bras that unclipped all the way. My favorite is the
Anita Maternity Women's Softcup Nursing Bra
because it unclips easily and is made of microfiber so it dries quickly and is more comfortable to wear than all of the other nursing bras I tried.
Find a place where you can pump in private, ideally a place you can make your own and get comfortable in. Most companies are required to provide a private place to nurse. Ask HR about it. Check out How To Express Breast Milk and Working and Breastfeeding Made Easy for more ideas about pumping at work.
If you work for a smaller company, or are on the road a lot, consider pumping in your car. Personally, I view my car as a wonderful place to both nurse and pump. While one of my most controversial breastfeeding tips, I've found that nursing in public can be very distracting for babies. I found I got a much better nursing in if I took my daughters back to the car where I could nurse in comfort with my Brest Friend nursing pillow and a sunshade over the window--if necessary. While letdown was sometimes a problem for me when in new places or even in my office building, I found it easier to change gears into the pumping mindset in my car.
Breastfeeding Tips #5 - Schedule it
Make sure to pump at regular intervals. I created a reoccurring “meeting” on my Microsoft Outlook work calendar so that my time was automatically blocked. Because I always took four months maternity leave, I was able to pump every four or five hours when I returned to work. This meant that I nursed my baby immediately before leaving for work, then pump at noon. I would pump again around four o’clock in the afternoon which gave my breasts plenty of time to fill back up before I returned home and nursed at six o’clock in the evening. I would then nurse again around nine o’clock in the evening and one last time right before I went to sleep. You want to make sure to physically nurse at least four times a day along with one or two pumping sessions.
For my last baby, I came up with something that I liked even better. Instead of teaching my daughter to sleep thru the night, I never gave up the four o’clock in the morning feeding. That meant I gave her two “dream feeds”, one right before I went to bed and one at four o’clock in the morning. By” dream feed” I mean that I kept the room dark and simply picked her up, lay down on my bed and nursed her and then put her back into bed. She never really woke up. The entire process took between ten and fifteen minutes from start to finish. By keeping the four o’clock in the morning nursing, I was able to skip pumping in the afternoon and I never had a problem with my milk supply.
I prefer nursing when I wake up at night over having to pump twice at work. Heck, I have to go to the bathroom every three or four hours anyway, so I never set an alarm clock.
These are simply Breastfeeding Tips, YOU be the judge of what works best for you.
Breastfeeding Tips #6 - Don’t Sweat Pump Volumes
I nursed all three of my daughters exclusively (no solids) until they were between 6 and 9 months old and continued nursing at least 5 times a day until they were over two years old. I always returned to full-time work when they were four months old. I never pumped more than 3 ounces in a four hour period. My daughters were all normal weight. You need to know that when you pump, you will extract substantially less milk than when your baby nurses. Those plastic Lansinoh breastmilk collection bags are HUGE. Kudos to you if you fill them up. I never did. As a matter of fact, I usually only filled three or four Lansinoh bags TOTAL when I was traveling on business…about one and a half per day. For more tips on how to pump while traveling on business, read How To Express Breast Milk During a Business Trip.
One last piece of advice regarding milk volume. If you are used to doing intense workouts, now is not the time to resume them. Making milk takes lots of energy. If you work out intensely AND pursue a career, it is likely that your milk supply will diminish rapidly. Your body can only do so much. Your baby is depending on you for the very best nutrition! Prioritize her above your workouts for now. You can always go back to them when she is older and not depending on you for nourishment any longer.
After being a one or two workout a day kind of person before my children, I quickly discovered that I needed to prioritize differently while my children were nursing, lest I lose my ability to do so. Instead, I chose to limit my workouts to a daily brisk 30 minute walk and some basic exercises like crunches, push-ups, leg lifts, and the all important Kegels.
Does my body look like it did before kids? No, but that’s OK for now. I have absolutely no guilt about working full time because I am nursing. The sustenance and the bonding are there. For me, that is makes it all worth it.
Breastfeeding Tips #7 - Choose a Nanny over Daycare
Your nanny can bring baby to YOU while you are at work. Instead of pumping you can nurse in the car with your Brest Friend Nursing Pillow . Have your nanny call you when they arrive. Trot on out to the car where you get to see your little baby and nurse! It will take half an hour at the most to nurse. Better yet, have your nanny bring you some food to eat so you can make a picnic out of it. Guaranteed, you will get back to work with a smile on your face!! For more reasons to choose a nanny over daycare… (coming soon)
Breastfeeding Tips #8 - Encourage your Husband to take Paternity Leave
We live in California where they have something called the Family Leave Act. This provides both mothers and fathers with a few weeks of paid maternity/paternity time. Granted, it isn’t your full salary, for our family it meant that when my four month maternity leave was over, my husband took eight weeks of partially paid paternity leave. Not only did it give him time to bond with our new baby, but it meant that we all had lunch together.
He would call when he was about to reach the parking lot and I would trot out of my office building and we would either have a picnic in the parking lot or drive somewhere close by where there was shade and a nice view. Then I’d nurse the baby. When we had more than one, my husband would feed our other daughter(s) while I was nursing. Then I’d get to eat while we all chatted. He often swung by a park on the way back home. The baby loved it, the kids loved it and I loved it. Best yet, my husband got special daddy time with each of our girls.
Breastfeeding Tips #9 Breastfeed Full-Time when you are Together
Your baby will extract far more milk out of your breasts than a breast pump will. For that reason, nurse, don’t pump, when you aren’t at work. If your husband is feeling left out, encourage him to create his own close time with your baby. Cuddling together in a chair as baby gets sleepy is a great bonding routine for him.
Breastfeeding Tips #10 - Take Care of Yourself
Here's one of my favorite breastfeeding tips: when you get home from work, grab your baby, lie down on your bed and nurse. One of my favorite things about arriving home from work is that I get to shed my work cloths and have a nice little nap while my daughter nurses. It gives me a chance to rest for a few minutes as well as change gears -- from money maker to mommy. If you have older children, you can include them in this little ritual as well.
Making milk for your baby takes energy. Respect your body. Provide it plenty of healthy nutrition by continuing to follow your healthy pregnancy diet. Simplify your life as much as possible so that you are able to get at least eight hours of sleep. If you can afford it, hire someone to do the laundry, cleaning and cooking. Check out Choosing a Nanny over Daycare to learn how a good nanny can provide you and your baby the best childcare situation as well as help with the home maintenance chores while baby is sleeping.
Breastfeeding Tips #11 - Enjoy your time together – babies grow up so quickly!
While it may seem like nursing is taking up endless amounts of time, I can tell you from experience that you will blink your eyes and wonder where your little baby went. Your opportunity to nurse is fleeting in the perspective of a lifetime. This is your one and only opportunity to make sure that your little baby receives the very best nutrition from you. The antibodies you are passing on to your baby will provide it with the strongest and healthiest possible immune system--for the rest of its life. For that reason in particular, I encourage you to nurse your baby for the first two years of its life. For more information about this, read When to Wean.
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