If you have decided to return to work or school after your maternity leave has ended, you may be wondering how to continue breastfeeding while you’re away from your baby for extended periods of time. The following tips and links can help make the transition as smooth as possible. As always, we at Southdale ObGyn are here to support you and help you achieve your breastfeeding goals. Please bring any questions or concerns you have to your next prenatal or postpartum appointment.
1. Talk to your employer:
If you can, talk to your employer about your plans to pump at work BEFORE you deliver. Find out what, if any, policies your employer has in place regarding pumping at work. If necessary, know that your right to pump at work is protected by law and there are several other well documented benefits to employers to accommodate breastfeeding mothers.
It is a good idea to make sure whoever will be taking care of baby (nanny, relative, daycare, etc.) is familiar with caring for breastfed babies, and the key differences between a breastfed baby and a formula-fed baby, such as how much and how often to feed baby, paced bottle feeding, etc. There are many excellent web resources on this topic, including the “Caregiver’s Guide to Breastfed Baby” by Anne Smith, IBCLC and “For the Caregiver of a Breastfed Baby” by Nancy Mohrbacker, IBCLC, FILCA.
3. Preparing for the first day away from baby:
4. Breast pumps:
Breast pumps come in a wide variety of styles and prices. In general, a mother who is away from her baby more than 10 hours a week will want a high-quality double electric pump. If you haven’t already done so, we recommend calling your health insurance and find out which brand/model is covered and how you should obtain one. Some women find having a manual pump on hand as a backup to be helpful.
5. Breastmilk storage guidelines:
It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with safe breastmilk storage and thawing. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a handy breastmilk storage reference chart on their website.
6. Get support!
Consider attending a new mom’s group or breastfeeding support meeting to get advice and tips from other moms who’ve returned to work. Most are free (or ask for a small donation) and do not require pre-registration. La Leche League, Baby Love and Amma Parenting are great options.
On a final note, keep in mind that any amount of breast milk that you provide your baby is beneficial and if you find that pumping isn’t going to work for you, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to stop breastfeeding entirely. Many women have been able to successfully breastfeed their babies while they are together and use a supplement while they’re apart.