How to manage a return to work and continue to breastfeed
Expressing yourself at work – how a phrase can take on a totally different meaning after childbirth!
Many working moms are anxious about being able to continue to breastfeed once they return to work. It takes commitment but it is possible.
Be sure your workplace has a clean, private, relaxing place for you to express your milk. It will make a lot of difference in your attitude and your success. If such a place isn't made available, speak up. Many employers are willing to help out if you let them know what's needed for you and the other nursing women at your workplace.
If your employer is reluctant to help, point out the advantages they can enjoy by supporting you. There have been plenty of studies that show the following benefits:
- less absenteeism for parents who are at work (because of fewer days spent at home with sick kids)
- higher employee satisfaction, and better retention, too.
- You can leave expressed breast milk at room temperature for about six to eight hours, or in the refrigerator or a cooler for 3 to 5 days, if you need to, since it contains natural preservatives. You can also freeze breast milk for future use. Thaw frozen milk by setting it out at room temperature or running it under warm water. Once unfrozen, do not refreeze.
Stored milk should be gently shaken, as the fat will have separated and risen to the top.
- There are several ways to express your breast milk: by hand, with a hand pump, or with a motorized electric pump. Renting an electric pump for a few months may produce the best results.
- Nursing frequently in the evening and at night will keep up your milk supply and can give you the special closeness to your baby that you may have missed while at work. Night-time nursing is even more effective than nursing during the day, so you may want to nurse more at night, even longer than your baby needs it, in order to maintain a strong milk supply.
While it might seem daunting, moms who have had success expressing at work say it helps them to feel close to their babies even when they have to be away.