A Lactation Consultant's Guide to Breastfeeding at Work
This week marks the last week of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. As I busily prepare my son to start kindergarten, going from one "Back-To-School" sale to another, I think back to the time when I was busily and nervously preparing to go "Back-to-Work" as a breastfeeding mom.
Returning to work after a short maternity leave is nerve-wrecking in and of itself, but when you add breastfeeding and pumping to the mix, things can get quite complicated. I pumped at work for more than a year, and it wasn't easy. Looking back, there are a lot of things I could have done better to save myself time and unnecessary stress. In particular, I wish I had had someone like Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), to help me navigate the process of returning to work as a nursing mother. Though I did what she recommends below in tip No.7 with my second baby (most moms relax with their second one, right?), with my first, I washed and sterilized my pump parts after every use while I cried about lack of time, sleep and too much stress.
There is a plethora of useful information when googling the topic of returning to work as a nursing mother, and I certainly did my fair share. However, looking back, I wished I had saved myself the time (staying up late and reading every single article there was related to this topic) and stress (see: crying) by talking to a lactation consultant like Leigh Anne for 15 min. Now, you can do it from the comfort of your couch or office with Maven.
Here are a few words to the wise from Leigh Anne:
1. Establish a good supply from the beginning: enjoy your baby moon with lots of nursing and cuddling. If you run in to any challenges in the beginning, have a consultation with an IBCLC.
2. Communicate with your employer: let them know you will be pumping upon your return to work – do not ask permission – tell, don’t ask!
3. Communicate with your caregiver – be sure that your baby is not overfed your precious milk. Make bottles in smaller volumes – think 3-4 ounces.
4. Always use a slow flow bottle – your nipple does not suddenly expand when your baby is three months old, so no need to have your bottle nipple expand either!
5. Nurse your baby when you are together, nurse all weekend (or on your days off) – many moms find they are able to pump more milk after a couple of days of lots of nursing.
6. Pump as soon as you get to work (this gives you a jump start.)
7. Keep your pump supplies in a refrigerator during the day – you can wash them when you get home.
8. If it is possible, visit your baby during the day so you can nurse.
9. Find a working moms support group – online or in-person.
10. Have your baby sleep with or near you. It is normal for your baby to reverse cycle when you return to work – she may wake more often as she is adjusting to the new schedule. Having her nearby helps reduce fatigue. Safe side-lying can help moms and babies get more sleep.
11. Wear pumping friendly clothes to the office. Wearing gorgeous and pumping-friendly dresses like Mitera dresses will not only save you time and hassle of undressing each time you pump, but also will help you feel confident and empowered as a working mom. As stress can negatively affect your milk supply, something that seems as trivial as your outfit can be a powerful tool to lift your mood and make you feel happy.
Always remember: breastfeeding does not have to be all or nothing – if you cannot keep up your supply, you are still nursing. Even if your baby gets one dose of your milk a day – you are still nursing!
Working does not have to mean weaning. Mitera and Maven are proud to support all moms, especially those who are breastfeeding and working!
Maven, the digital clinic for women. No need to go to the doctor’s office for everything, especially after you’ve just given birth–Maven gets your pregnancy questions answered with video appointments from qualified health providers whenever, wherever. Maven gives you access to all the prenatal and postpartum support you need–think post-birth support from a doula, breastfeeding advice from a lactation consultant, nutritionist consults, even therapy from the comfort of your home. www.mavenclinic.com