Breastfeeding and ready to go back to work? Here are some tips

With the right preparation and support, you don’t have to give up your breastfeeding goals when you go back to work.

Breastfeeding and going back to work

  • Create a breastfeeding plan with your boss
  • Locate your child care options
  • Practice expressing milk before returning to work
  • Create a pumping schedule
  • Find a strong support system of women
  • Scout out where you plan to pump and plan the quickest route
  • After a few weeks, consider proposing changes with your boss

With the right preparation and support, you don’t have to give up your breastfeeding goals when you go back to work.

Most working mothers go back to work six to eight weeks after having a baby, so most working breastfeeding mothers will have to pump at work. Pumping and working can be challenging, but planning ahead will help you be successful.

Plan During Pregnancy

Don’t wait until you are ready to head back to work to start thinking about your breastfeeding plan. Consider these tips before your baby arrives:

  1. Create a breastfeeding plan with your boss: Talk to your manager about your proposed breastfeeding plan, including where you plan to pump, where you plan to store your milk, and the number and duration of breaks you’ll need for pumping during work hours. Get your manager’s approval before your maternity leave.
  2. Locate your child care options: Investigate child care options to determine if any are close enough that you can breastfeed on longer breaks. Ask if the facility can store and use your pumped breast milk to feed your baby during the work day.
  3. Practice makes perfect: Get a quality electric breast pump and practice expressing milk before returning to work. Contact a lactation consultant, your health care provider, WIC program or a public health department if you have difficulties pumping or have questions.

Returning to Work

Eliminate the anxiety of returning to work by following these simple tips from moms who have made a successful transition back into the workforce:

  1. Ask questions: Find a strong support system of women who have been there before. Talk to your friends and family to learn from their experiences with breastfeeding and working. Ask co-workers about their experiences pumping at work.
  2. Locate a lactation space: Map out the quickest route to and from where you plan to pump. Make sure the door locks and provides enough space.
  3. Evaluate your lactation plan: After a few weeks of using your lactation plan created with your manager, take a look at how it is going. Discuss any changes that need to be made.

Pumping Schedule

Creating a pumping routine is the key to a successful transition to work. Most moms will need to use their morning and afternoon break times and part of their lunch break to pump. If you don’t have usual break times, talk to your supervisor about scheduling times for this process.

“Currently any business with 50 or more employees must provide a private place to pump — not a bathroom — as well as sufficient break time to pump,” said Elizabeth M. Doyle, M.D., pediatrician with Norton Community Medical Associates – Shepherdsville and Norton Healthcare’s system medical director for lactation.

With a double-sided electric pump, each pumping session will take about 15 to 20 minutes; however, some women might pump for a longer or shorter time. You also will need time to get to and from the lactation space and to wash your hands and equipment. A hands-free pumping bra allows you the flexibility to eat or drink, answer emails or just play a game to pass the time.

Sample pumping schedule for eight-hour work day — first six months

Before you leave home Morning break
2 hours into your work schedule
Lunch
5 hours into your work schedule
Afternoon break
6 to 8 hours into your work schedule
At the child care site or home
Breastfeed Pump Pump Pump Breastfeed

Sample pumping schedule for 12-hour work day if doing first and last feedings at home – first 6 months

Before you leave home Morning break
2.5 hours into your work schedule
Lunch
6 hours into your work schedule
Afternoon break
9.5 hours into your work schedule
At the child care site or home
Breastfeed Pump  Pump Pump Breastfeed

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