Going back to work after maternity leave is heart-wrenching. I am yet to meet a mother who looks forward to it with glee. You might feel ready to get back to the grind, but there would be that little reservation about leaving your newborn at home – what if you miss a smile? And if you are a breastfeeding mama chances are, you would be saddled with questions about feeding your baby. Will you be able to breastfeed your baby?
Most mothers experience a dip in their milk supply after resuming work. It’s to be expected. After a few
weeks stay at home, going back to work, coupled with the change in environment, the stress and possibly a
change in diet all accumulate to the dip. An increase in intake of fenugreek (in any form) can help address this problem. This post has tips on increasing your milk supply.
Whether you find your milk reducing or not, you don’t have to give up breastfeeding because you are
resuming work; that is if you don’t want to…
The following are steps you need can to take to ensure you and your baby get the full benefits of breastfeeding even though you’re going back to work.
1. Build your milk stash
Express often whilst you are on maternity leave. I started building my stash right after my breast milk came
in. My breasts were going to engorge anyway if I didn’t. I expressed at least once a day making 9oz (about
250- 300ml) per a 10-15 minutes session.
I would advise you to express more than once a day- at least twice daily if possible. It’s important to note the
exact date and time when you express. This is because of the changing nature of breast milk; that way, you
can use what you have stored appropriately.
2. Save the milk whilst breastfeeding
Have you noticed the other breast usually leaks during breastfeeding? Save that milk. You can use a silicone manual breast pump also known as the hakaa. This pump is anti-slip and requires no work on your part. The milk saves directly into it whilst you are breastfeeding.
3. Have a pumping schedule
Like most things, our bodies also work well when we follow a routine. Consider pumping in the morning before work, during a break while at work, or during a set hour in the evenings.
I had a colleague who breastfed her baby from one breast during night feedings so the other would get engorged by morning for pumping. She would then leave early from work to express then breastfeed her baby. She did this
instead of pumping at work.
And so, instead of having to pump severally at work, you can consider a similar schedule. Alternatively, discuss with your Human Resource or equivalent team in your office to explore pumping at work.
4. Pump at work
Several workplaces are increasingly supportive of working mothers and provide quiet and private places for them to pump their milk as required; so have the discussions and explore all your options. Many mothers have and do pump at work (either in designated areas or in their cars). If you are a new mom, this might seem like a tall mountain to climb but it is possible!
Furthermore, all the essentials you may have to pack in order to pump can serve as a deterrent. But don’t be perturbed Mama, you can do this!
5. Wear clothes that make pumping easy
Front open clothes are awesome for pumping on the go. If you want more privacy, you can always take your breastfeeding cover to work.
6. Find a place within your workspace where you can pump.
The bathroom no matter how clean it is is a no-no. Most offices are mandated by law to provide breastfeeding spaces for nursing mothers.
If this is not available consider using the office library, conference room or even at your desk. Don’t be shy about it. You are only doing what’s best for you and your baby.
7. Don’t stress it
Try to be as comfortable as possible in the environment in which you will pump. Consider relaxation techniques or some soothing music if you need this.
Also, try not to worry about the amount of milk you are getting. Do not let other work-related or non-related issues stress you out. Otherwise, this will affect your milk flow and generally decrease the amount of milk you can get. A picture of your baby has proven to help to get a letdown.
8. Talk to other breastfeeding moms within your work environment
You would be amazed at how much they know and are willing to share. Although what has worked for someone might not necessarily work for you, you will get a lot of helpful tips.
9. Introduce your baby to the bottle
Don’t leave room for surprises.
My first baby stopped taking the bottle after three months…
You do not want a panic call when you get to the office on your first day. Set yourself for success Mama. Introduce your baby to the bottle beforehand. Get your baby to feed from the bottle before you resume work.
10. Get your pump and other breastfeeding supplies
If you intend to pump at work, which is beneficial, get your breastfeeding supplies beforehand. This
- a breast pump and additional parts
- hands-free pumping bra
- breastfeeding cover
- nursing pads
- breast milk storage bag/bottles
- cooler bags to keep the breast milk
- lactation cookies for when you need a little hand getting a letdown.
11. Eat foods that help in the production of breast milk.
As I noted in the introduction paragraph, most mothers see a decline in the amount of milk they express when they resume work. Therefore, when you resume work, ensure you’re eating well and drinking enough water to help maintain your milk supply.
Pumping and having a breastfeeding schedule helps maintain your supply. Read this post for additional tips on maintaining your breast milk supply including what foods to eat.
It used to be a good idea to refrigerate pumping parts and accessories in between sessions; but not any
longer. This is because it can lead to contamination of breast milk and subsequently, an infection in the baby. Source.
Therefore, carry extra parts for your pumping sessions and a ziploc bag to keep them in after use. Clean all the equipment when you return home and let them air dry before packing them up again.
No matter how stressful work gets, it’s possible to still breastfeed your baby when going back to work. It starts with some painstaking planning whilst you’re on maternity leave.
Remember, breastfeeding works based on demand and supply. So once there’s a dip in supply because you’re not breastfeeding, your body may not produce enough to meet the demand.
My working mothers out there, when are you going back to work? Do you intend to continue breastfeeding? Did you find any bit of this post helpful? Share which ones and your tips below.