Committing yourself to exclusively breastfeeding, despite returning to work.
Yes it can be tricky, but it can be done.
1. It is important your baby is familiar with taking a bottle before you return to work. The longer you leave introducing a bottle, the more difficult acceptance can be. If you are returning to work before your baby is 6 months old, they will need to use a bottle to take their milk. However, if your return is after 6 months you could offer your milk to your baby in a sippy cup.
2. Find a childcare provider who both listens to and respects your wishes; one that is wholly on board with your decision to feed your baby breastmilk; and one who is knowledgeable about how to store and prepare breastmilk. Set clear guidelines about what you are happy with and what you want to happen if they were to find themselves in the unfortunate situation where they did not have enough milk – hopefully you are close enough to pop to wherever your little one is, but if not you need a plan. If your baby is usually nursed to sleep it might also be a good idea to discuss approaches to nap times.
3. Wear clothes to work which make pumping easier, to avoid being faced with getting dressed and undressed during every time you need to pump. Loosely fitting clothes which can be easily pulled up or down are perfect, try and make things as easy as possible for yourself.
4. Plan a routine, if your baby is under 6 months it is important to pump every 3 hours. Schedule this into your working day. E.g. morning break, lunch, afternoon break. Each time you pump you are pumping to store milk for your baby, keeping yourself comfortable and keeping your milk supply high.
5. Nurse to keep your supply up, it’s not unusual to find pumping doesn’t provide as much milk as nursing. Breastfeed on demand during your days off, taking the time to enjoy the more natural nursing process, use nap times, first thing in the mornings/evenings for pumping to store.
6. Be open about where you’re going to pump, it could be a quiet room with the blinds down or an empty office. Your place of work should designate a quiet area for you to pump, but we all know how quickly things change. Be flexible and relaxed, print out a sign asking for privacy which can be easily stuck to a door. Be sure to get everything you need before you sit down – e.g a drink, lunch, your phone, or a laptop.
7. Be transparent with work colleagues about pumping and breastfeeding, having their support will make a huge difference. You may find someone else has been in the same position as you; it can be great to share tips.
8. Get in the know about guidelines to freeze your milk and defrost it for use. A great routine is: to use frozen breast milk, which has been thawed correctly, on a Monday; and then use Monday’s breast milk on the Tuesday; Tuesday’s on the Wednesday and so on. If you freeze your milk in small packages you can take out individual MAM Storage Pots to top up your milk throughout the week – for those times when you have been unable to pump.
9. Be Kind To Yourself through this mentally and physically challenging time and just know whatever happens in your breastfeeding journey all that matters is that your baby is happy and fed.