Tips For Preparing to Return to Work & Breastfeeding

I’ve been pumping at work since June 2011 and things continue to go well for me. I have a office so I didn’t have to locate a place to pump and I am usually stationed in my office and not traveling to different sites to meetings. My biggest challenge some days is making the time to pump when my days get really busy. I always stop to pump because I don’t want my supply to go down but some days I think I wait a little too late because I start leaking or feeling too heavy.  Now when I know I’m going into a few long meetings I pump early and then pump right after the meetings. On the challenging days mommies, remind yourself that you’re pumping at work for your baby and you can do it!! Take it one day at a time! This pic is of my full Medela bottles after pumping one day in my office. I thought it was a beautiful sight so I took a pic!  I was googling pumping at work and I found a very helpful article on askdrsears.com. I posted the first nine tips of the twenty below. Checkout the article for the rest. Also the website has many other helpful breastfeeding articles. Happy pumping!!

 http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-while-working/20-tips-working-and-breastfeeding

YOUR WEEKS AT HOME

1. Make a commitment. Juggling breastfeeding and working is not easy. There will be days when you wonder if it’s all worth it. You’ll develop a love-hate relationship with your pump. You’ll leak at embarrassing moments, and you may be on the receiving end of less than supportive comments from ignorant co-workers. There will be days when you’re ready to toss in the pump and reach for the formula. Yet, once you make a commitment to continuing to breastfeed, you’ll find a way to do it. If you believe that breastfeeding is important for your baby and for yourself, doing what it takes to continue this beautiful relationship will not seem as difficult. And you’ll enjoy all the practical benefits of nursing your baby full-time when you are together after work and on weekends.You may be worried that nursing and working will be a lot of bother, or friends may have told you about their own difficulties with pumping milk or arranging feeding schedules. Working and caring for a small baby is a juggling act, so you need to think carefully about this choice and how you will manage. If you’re not sure that you want to continue breastfeeding after you return to your job, give it at least a 30-day trial period. This will give you a chance to work out any problems and settle into a mutually rewarding experience for you and baby. Have confidence in yourself. You can do this! 

2. Get connected. To build a solid relationship with your baby, you must banish the “what if’s.” “What if he won’t take a bottle?” “What if she won’t settle down without nursing?” “When I pump milk at home I can pump only a little bit. What if I can’t pump enough milk when I’m back at work?”

  • Don’t let these worries about the future intrude on your enjoyment of your first weeks with your baby. These are legitimate concerns, but at the same time, they are all problems that can be solved. It’s good to plan ahead–but not too much. Don’t let your preoccupation with the day you need to return to work (“W” day) rob you of the joy of those weeks of being a full-time mother. So even if your maternity leave is only a few short weeks, use this time to allow yourself to be completely absorbed by your baby. Think of this time as a “babymoon”-like a honeymoon, with emphasis on establishing a relationship with minimal intrusions. This season of your life will never come again; treasure it while it’s here. (You can organize those closets next year–or five years from now.) Mothering a newborn will absorb all your time. It should. These weeks after birth are when mothers fall in love with their babies. And, as with any love affair, the two of you need time to get to know one another.Will focusing on just being a mother now make it more difficult to leave your baby later? It might. We’ve seen many mothers who had thought they would return to the workplace move heaven and earth in order to stay home longer with their babies. We’ve also seen the payoff for mothers who take the time to really get attached to their babies but who do return to their jobs: they work very hard at maintaining the close relationship with their child. They enjoy their babies more, and the benefits to their children are lifelong. 

3. Get breastfeeding off to a good start. Doing everything you can to make breastfeeding work well in the early weeks is important to breastfeeding success after you return to work. You need to breastfeed early and often to encourage your breasts to produce lots of milk.

The longer you can enjoy this exclusive breastfeeding relationship, the easier it will be to continue when you are back on the job. Use vacation time, or any other time off that is available to you. Consider taking an unpaid leave to stay home longer with your baby, if that is financially possible. (Sacrificing some income at this point in your life could turn out to be the one of the best investments you’ll ever make.) Working only part-time will also simplify breastfeeding. If there is a compelling reason why your baby must receive breast milk, perhaps because of prematurity or allergies, you may be able to prolong your leave time by getting a letter from your doctor.

PLANNING YOUR RETURN

4. Explore your options.Consider these alternatives to spending the entire day away from your baby:

  • Bring your baby to work.
  • Try work and wear.
  • Bring the work to your baby. 
  • On-site day care.
  • Nearby daycare providers.
  • Visits from your baby.
  • Part-time work.

5. Be flexible.Babies have a way of derailing mothers from their pre-planned career track. Expect to change pumps, dresses, caregivers, and even jobs. Try to remain flexible as you plan for your return to work and for how you will continue to breastfeed. Your needs will change and so will your baby’s. If something that worked well a few weeks ago is not working now, change it. Babies have different needs and preferences at different stages.

6. Choose a breastfeeding-friendly caregiver.If you can, make your arrangements for a substitute caregiver while you’re still pregnant, so that the search for a baby-sitter doesn’t consume valuable time an d energy that could be spent on your baby. Be sure to tell your caregiver how much being able to continue breastfeeding means to you, and thank this person for helping to make this possible. If your baby’s caregiver is unfamiliar with breastfed babies and handling expressed human milk, you’ll need to gently and tactfully educate her. Share information about the benefits of breastfeeding and about how your baby is growing and thriving on your milk. Tell her how to thaw and warm your milk (written instructions may be helpful), and work out a system for preparing, labeling, and storing your baby’s bottles. Make this as simple as possible so that the caregiver can devote her attention to the baby, not the bottle. To speed the delivery of your milk to your baby so that she doesn’t have to wait for bottles when she is hungry, try these tips:

    • Freeze milk in small amounts that thaw more quickly.
    • Thaw the amount of milk needed for each day overnight in the refrigerator. Any milk left after 24 hours will have to be discarded, but if your baby’s milk consumption is fairly predictable, you can do this without worrying about waste.
    • Your caregiver could try giving your baby cold milk from the refrigerator, but most babies prefer it warmed up, just like the milk they get from mom’s breast.

    Tell the caregiver that you want your baby held for all feedings, and that your baby should be picked up whenever he cries or fusses. If the caregiver is having trouble getting your baby to accept a bottle during your first days back at work, see won’t take a bottle. Tell her what to offer your baby when he wants to suck for comfort–a pacifier, or perhaps the caregiver’s clean finger. Be supportive and sympathetic–a good relationship with this person is important. But first and foremost, remember that you are in charge here. You are responsible for your baby’s well-being.

7. Get to know your breast pump. About two weeks before your plan to return to work, get the breast pump out of the case and figure out how to make it work. Read the directions carefully–they’re your best source of information for how to put the pump together, how to get the best use out of it, and how to clean it. You may also find helpful tips on maximizing the amount of milk you can pump.

8. Get baby used to the bottle – but not too soon. Someone is going to tell you, “Give your baby a bottle by two weeks of age, so he’ll get used to it. Otherwise, he may never take it.” This is poor advice. It’s best to avoid bottles, certainly during the first three weeks. Offering a bottle at the time your baby is learning the fine art of latch-on and you are building up your milk supply runs the risk of interfering with both of these processes. If the bottle is introduced too soon, some babies develop nipple confusion; others may not. Some babies switch back and forth from breast to bottle without difficulty Others quickly learn that it’s easier to get milk from a bottle and have difficulty returning to the breast. Of course, you don’t know if you have this kind of baby until after the bottle is introduced and baby is unwilling to take the breast. It’s wiser not to take the risk, especially if your baby has had difficulty learning to take the breast. Give him some time to consolidate what he’s learned about breastfeeding before you present him with a new challenge. A hungry baby will learn to take a bottle eventually, especially if your milk is in it. A couple weeks before you return to work, begin offering baby the bottle as a toy and let him get familiar with it. Don’t obsess about baby accepting the bottle, and don’t force the issue. If baby takes the bottle, fine; if he doesn’t, okay. Some babies refuse to take bottles from their mother (a sort of “what’s wrong with this picture?” feeling), yet take the bottle from another caregiver.

9. Negotiate with your employer. Develop a plan that you think will work for you–when you will pump, where you will store milk, other special arrangements like being able to visit your baby and nurse during your lunch hour. If you know other women in your workplace who have pumped milk for their babies, talk to them about the problems they encountered and how they solved them. In putting together your plan, consider the following:

  • When will you pump? You will need to pump about as often as your baby nurses, every two to three hours. If you work an eight-hour day, this means pumping at mid-morning, at lunch, and at mid-afternoon. If you pump both breasts at the same time, allow 15 to 20 minutes, 30 minutes if you pump each breast separately. You may have to arrive earlier and stay later to make up for time spent pumping.
  • Where will you pump? At your desk? In the ladies’ room? Can you borrow an office or use an empty room to pump in privacy? (Hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.) The ladies’ lounge is a good place if you like company while you pump–and some moms do). If you work in a hospital or medical center, there may be a pumping room near the newborn nursery or neonatal intensive care unit.
  • Ideally, the place where you pump will have an electrical outlet, so that you can use an electric pump, if that is your choice, and a sink to rinse off the parts of the pump that come in contact with your milk. You’ll need a comfortable chair and a table for your equipment, your lunch, or any paperwork you might want to look at while you’re pumping.
  • Where will you store the milk? A refrigerator where you can store expressed milk is handy, though you can substitute ice packs and a cooler.
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