Working and breastfeeding is easy to do. Your baby deserves the nutrition, immunities and bonding that breastfeeding provides. Even if you aren’t certain that you want to continue breastfeeding after you return to work, at least give it a thirty day trial. We are convinced that if you follow our tips, you will realize how easy and rewarding it is to continue nursing after you return to work.
To maintain your milk supply while you are working and breastfeeding, you need to nurse at least five or six times a day. Most women who work outside of the home choose to pump breastmilk for the breast stimulation as well as to provide milk for their baby to drink the next day.
If you work for a large company, most are required to provide a private place for you to express breast milk. Here we are going to provide some tips for making it as easy as possible for you to pump at work in a room that your company has dedicated for nursing moms.
Our first suggestion is that you post a note in the room introducing yourself and asking that everyone else using the room do the same. Get everyone to list their names, phone numbers and email addresses. It is good to know who else at your company is dedicated to nursing. Consider setting up an email group to support one another and to notify everyone of new supplies or shortages in the pump room.
It is much easier to pop out of a meeting, and go directly to a well-stocked pumping room to express milk than have to go back to your office and grab your nursing bag. Take it from someone who has been there, you can feel awkward carrying your nursing bag around the building. You don’t want people thinking that you are leaving for the day!
Our advice is for you to suggest to the others using the room that you all feel free to leave your bags in the room during the day. Volunteer to share a supply of milk collection bags, hand sanitizer, lotion (hand sanitizer is drying) and bottled water. Agree to share the room so that you can pump simultaneously when you only have a few minutes between meetings. You don’t want to be locked out and separated from your pumping equipment.
If you or anyone else is having supply issues, another GREAT idea is to have everyone pitch in and rent a hospital grade pump. Pump rental is usually less than thirty dollars per month. The hospital pump can be left in the room permanently with the users just needing their own attachments (attachments cost around ten dollars).
With my first child, I completely cut out middle of the night feedings and my milk supply went down dramatically when I returned to work. I was also trying to squeeze in some fairly intense aerobic workouts. The stress of work, the workouts and lack of frequent enough nursing meant that the pump I’d purchased wasn’t extracting enough milk to keep my supply up. I needed something with more suction.
I resolved the problem quickly after I cut out the intense aerobic workouts, added an additional nursing right before I went to bed and rented a hospital grade pump from my local hospital. La Leche League in your area can tell you the best place to rent one.
Hospital grade pumps are big and heavy, so I installed it in my company’s nursing room with a note telling the other nursing mothers that they should feel free to use it, that they only needed to get the proper attachments. I gave them detailed information for the type of attachments they needed and where I’d gotten mine.
I got a note back from one mother asking me to promise not to take the pump away without letting notifying everyone ahead of time. I promised. A year later when I changed jobs, I went down to the hospital with one of my co-workers and changed the pump rental agreement into her name.
It was a large company with lots of new mothers. I often wonder if that pump is still there and being used. I also wonder how many women might have gotten overwhelmed and given up nursing if I hadn’t taken the initiative to work with corporate HR to get a permanent mothers room complete with a refrigerator. What would have happened if I hadn’t set the room up so that it was a wonderful, relaxing and well stocked room to pump in? Especially at lunch time, there were often several of us there chatting about our babies and pumping!
Over time, we were able to get a small refrigerator added to the room. This is a great idea so that you don’t have to carry ice around with you. Later, when I worked for a company that required a long commute, I got in the habit of freezing my milk in the company’s large refrigerator/freezer combo. That way I carried frozen milk in the little cooler that came with my pump bag and I didn’t have to worry about ice.
When I got home, I would put the milk in the refrigerator right away so that it was ready for my daughter to drink the next day while I was at work.
Here is a tip for heating your breastmilk. Fill a bowl with hot water out of your tap and submerge the bag (or bottle) of milk in the water for five or ten minutes. Shake and check the temperature. By then it is usually the perfect temperature for your baby. It never gets over heated this way and you retain as many of the vitamins, minerals and enzymes if you heat it as little as possible--no more than body temperature. Remember, once your baby is a couple months old, the temperature is not as important. As long as you have taken the chill off the milk, you are good to go.
If you are working and breastfeeding at a smaller company where you can’t have a dedicated mother’s room, consider setting your car up as your perfect pumping place. Or consider keeping an additional nursing in the middle of the night so that you are nursing your baby at least every 4 hours during the time you are not at work.
If pumping is really a problem for you while you are working and breastfeeding, you still don’t have to give up breastfeeding. Consider keeping an additional nursing in the middle of the night so that you are nursing your baby at least every four hours during the time you are not at work. You need to be nursing five or six times a day to keep your breastmilk supply, but you don’t necessarily have to nurse during the day. Where other mom’s might have an 8 hour break from nursing while they sleep, you can plan for a fifteen minute nursing at 4am and use that 8 hour break from nursing during the day while you are at work. If you are like us, you won’t need an alarm clock! We wake up to go to the bathroom every 3-4 hours anyway.
Instead of going immediately back to sleep after using the bathroom, we take the time for a nursing instead. Our babies hardly even wake up. We keep the lights off, grab our baby, lie down and nurse in bed, return baby to his/her bed and fall back to sleep.
Working and breastfeeding, you CAN do it!
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