Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Return to Work Nursing

Returning to work after the birth of a new baby can be a trying time for new mothers attempting to do their best for their child. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization suggest that infants be exclusively breast fed (exclusively means without supplementation of formula or solid foods) for the first six months of life. A working mother who decides to abide by these recommendations, as I have done with each of my sons, is often left no choice but to express breast milk while working away from her child.

An increasing number of businesses are providing employees with designated lactation rooms, however, these numbers remain low. If fears of expressing breast milk in a bathroom stall or storing milk in a public refrigerator leave you feeling squeamish about pumping at work, take comfort in a few simple ways you can make breastfeeding at work more comfortable and sustainable.

Prepare yourself for success

Start by purchasing a good breast pump. This is one purchase where you definitely get what you pay for and a good pump may cost upwards of $300. However, this initial investment will allow you to pump longer and with more ease ensuring a savings over the cost of formula feeding your child.

While still at home with your baby, pump enough milk to cover your first week back to work. Pump first thing in the morning when your milk supply is greatest or pump through those few days of engorgement right after your milk comes in.

Gather all the supplies you will need when returning to work including extra bottles and breast pads in case of an emergency. Also, pictures of your baby and soothing music can make pumping at work easier.

Before returning to work, consider when and where you will pump throughout the day. Begin to adopt that schedule in your last week at home.

Prepare your boss

Easy, open communication with your boss will ensure you get what you need as a breastfeeding mom. Express the importance to you and your baby of continuing to breastfeed after returning to work. Further, stress that breastfeeding provides benefits to the company. Breastfed babies require fewer doctor's visits and breastfeeding moms have lower rates of postpartum depression. Both of which mean fewer absences from work.

Make sure your boss knows when you will be taking breaks to express milk and if necessary, who will be covering your responsibilities during those times. Pumping should take only as long as it takes for your infant to breastfeed, less time if you have a double pump.

Make it work

Create a calm environment where you can pump. Whether you are pumping in a locked office, a conference room, or a shower room (as I did), lower the lights, take a few deep breaths, and envision your baby.

Throughout the day, make sure you drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet. If your milk supply decreases, consider taking an herbal supplement for breastfeeding mothers such as fenugreek.

Cut yourself some slack. If it becomes necessary to supplement your baby's diet with formula, know that breastfeeding your infant at all is beneficial to you and your baby.

Your decision to continue breastfeeding once returning to work is an admirable commitment to your child and your health. Working and breastfeeding do not need to be incongruent roles for new moms. You can continue to care for your baby in the best way you know how despite the busy schedule of a working mom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, I wish I read this before I went back to work and had to pump. I was kind of a mess. In addition to which I had a glass office with a door that did not lock:) I ended up buying one of those Japanese Screens and relying on one of the assistants who sat outside to essentially guard my office while I pumped. So while no-one saw me, everyone in the office knew when I was "being a cow", as one of my co-workers affectionately put it...

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