Making Returning to Work, Work
Whether you are going back to work at 6 weeks, 6 months, or even a year, there aew always some adjustments. Parents that continue to breastfeed while working certainly face a few different obstacles, but we believe if you develop a sustainable plan prior to a big event, you are more likely to succeed. Our biggest suggestion: work with a skilled lactation consultant and postpartum doula to help you develop a plan that works for you, your baby, your family, and your career.
Here are our top five tips for making returning to work, work, while breastfeeding:
Introduce a Bottle Sooner Rather Than Later
There are so many opinions about this very topic. Well, we believe from evidence based sources as well as hundreds of hours helping clients feed their babies, babies know the difference between a bottle and nipple. For our clients that will be using a bottle at some point, we recommend they introduce it as soon as they can. We have found that people who wait to introduce the bottle may face more difficulties with the baby rejecting the bottle, and more anxiety with parents related to that rejection
Paced Bottle Feeding
The best way to avoid confusion/preference issues between a breast nipple and a bottle nipple is to encourage bottle feeding to be as close to breastfeeding as possible. This way your baby will not have the luxury of simply laying back and letter milk drip into his or her mouth without any sucking. Paced bottle feeding is a way of slowing down the flow and giving the baby full control over drinking from the bottle so that the baby does not develop a preference for meals at the bottle. It's an amazing technique our postpartum doulas utilize daily, and will be happy to help teach you their secrets.
Generating a freezer stash is a great way to feel secure about leaving for work because you know there is more than enough milk frozen in your freezer. However, when you are nursing around the clock, it may seem like you will never be able to build you stash. We recommend you had in at least one pumping session into your day that will solely be used for building your freezer stash. If you are heading back to work sooner, maybe more than one pumping session is in order.
More Importantly, Pump Well
You can easily pump and dislike the process: it takes a long time, it feel kind of weird, and if you are tired enough, the pump may sound like it is talking to you (no? just me?). We love to encourage our clients to pump well. Making the process comfortable, and not a punishment while also taking care of yourself, is key. We don’t want you pumping is some small, dark closest, but a place that is comfortable and where you can see your baby or at least see a picture of your baby is helpful, and items that allow you smell your baby. Staying well hydrated and fed is also key to successful pumping sessions. Drinking enough water and eating protein and fiber dense foods while not only be beneficial for your body, but also your milk supply.
Think About What Pumping Will Look Like at Work
Employers are required by law to provide a comfortable, private place for you to pump. So we encourage you to think about how you can make that space personal. Do you need an extra pillow for lower back support? An extra long charging cable for your phone? Make the space somewhere where you don’t mind being, so you do not begin to resent the process. As always, we are big advocates for planning ahead to help prepare for any unknowns.