If you are a breastfeeding momma headed back to work or school, I want to cover this topic in your breastfeeding journey since I know it can be a difficut time. Leaving your little one and returning to work can be hard enough. But to enter into a new world of pumping at work can also make it challenging to return to work.
I want to make sure you know that even if you are breastfeeding and plan on returning to work – that doesn’t mean you have to stop breastfeeding. In fact, please don’t! Continuing to breastfeed can actually help you and your baby connect at the end of the day when you come home. Breastfeeding is such an important stage in life to bond with your little one. Take advantage and do it as long as you can! Your little one will soon be too big anyway!
I would recommend starting to pump after you have established breastfeeding, typically around 3 to 4 weeks. By doing this, it can help:
- you become more comfortable with the breast pump
- your baby become use to a bottle
- establish a supply for the first couple days after you return to work
It can also be really helpful to talk to other breastfeeding mommas who have returned back to work. Let’s break this down on how you can make a smooth transition back to work while still breastfeeding.
Talk with Your Employer
I think communication is key here. For some moms, this can be an uncomfortable discussion to have but I want to encourage you in this. Your employer should be understanding! You want to do what is best for your little one, so don’t let fear get in the way of that!
Most companies should support breastfeeding mothers. They might do it in different ways though. You have the right to pump while you return to work. You might also have an option to extend your maternity leave (although it will probably be without pay), working part-time for awhile, or possibly working from home.
If you do plan on going back to the office, check and see where you can pump. Some offices will have designated “mothers room” where you can do this comfortable. If you don’t know, reach out to someone in your office! Having a comfortable place to pump makes all the difference!
Choose A Care Provider you are Comfortable With
I think the hardest part of returning back to work is no longer spending the days with your little one. Having someone you trust and are reliable to care for your little one while you are at work is HUGE.
As for feeding goes while you are at work, share that information with your care provider. How you store/thaw the milk for feeding, how much to feed, when to feed, etc. You might also want to ask not to feed your baby right before you pick up so that they are ready to nurse when you pick them up.
Introduce a Bottle BEFORE you Return to Work
This is another important step to make this transition process go smoothly. You don’t want to introduce a bottle too early since it can cause nipple confusion (which the end result is your baby won’t want to nurse – only take a bottle). But, you do want to make sure you give a bottle before going back to work.
You can introduce a bottle when your milk supply is well established & your baby is nursing well. A good guideline is around 6 weeks. Your baby might take a bottle easier if someone else is giving the bottle. If they receive it well, use a bottle occasionally to help your little one get used to that as an option.
For a guideline, when using a bottle, 2 to 5 ounces of milk is what an average baby drinks (3 months or younger). But you know your baby best!
Rent or Buy a High-Quality Breast Pump
This is another important point. If you plan on returning to work & still want to continue breastfeeding for awhile, using a high quality pump will make this so much more enjoyable. Plus, if you plan on having more kids, it will definitly be worth the investment.
Some work places will offer a pump to nursing moms. So that is worth checking into with your employer. Otherwise, consider buying an electric or battery operated one – depedning on your work/pumping situation.
Another great option would be a double-pumping kit. This allows you to express milk from both breasts at the same time. This will not only save you time but also keep up your milk supply.
If you are looking for some breast pump options & how you can possibly get one for free, check out my post here.
Also, when getting a pump, try it out at home before returning to work.
A few last tips and wise words of advice before making your transition back to work.
- try not to go back to work on a Monday
- remember supply & demand when pumping
- work feedings into your schedule
- be patient!
I’ll explain why I listed these. Starting work on a Monday means you have the rest of the week to get through. If you can, if you can start mid-week, then you only have a couple days until the weekend. That will make the transition a little easier.
Supply & demand is basically saying don’t skip a pumping. The more you pump, the more milk your body is going to produce. Working feedings into your schedule goes hand in hand with supply & demand.
And this last one, might just be the most important. Be patient! Just like adjusting to a new baby took time, so will adjusting to being back at work. It might feel uncomfortable to pump for the first few times while being at work. But just relax and be patient. If you find yourself anxious or nervous about it, try listening to music or podcasts to distract you.
Also, remember to refridgerate your milk at work and bring it home in a cooler!
If you have any quesitons or feedback, leave them in the comments below!
All the best,