Going back to work brings special challenges to breastfeeding moms. Amazing progress is being made, but the reality of the day-in-day-out leaving baby, remembering all your pump parts, storing milk and getting home with enough energy left to prepare for tomorrow can be tough.
Here are a few tips from moms who have been through it:
1. Establish your supply. Before you go back to work, spend as much time as possible close to baby: skin-to-skin, napping together, even bathing together. This closeness, plus feeding baby on demand, helps build a good strong milk supply in the beginning which will carry you through the busy times ahead.
2. Pumping. Two or three weeks before going back to work, start to do a bit of extra pumping. One strategy: feed your baby from just one side at your first morning feed. Pump the second side. You have more milk first thing in the morning and one side will probably be plenty for baby’s breakfast.
3. Freeze your milk in 2-3 ounce batches, but add a few bags that are just an ounce. Most babies take 2-3 ounces as a feeding, but those one-ounce packages are helpful for when baby needs a bit of a snack to hold her over until you get there.
4. Plan on feeding your baby at day care before you head home. It gives you a chance to unwind with baby, chat with your care provider and breathe in all the “foreign” germs there. By your next feed, you will be making antibodies for those specific germs to help protect your baby.
5. Plan for convenience. Anything that will save you a bit of time or effort is worth the price. Get an extra set of pump parts so you don’t have to wash them each time you pump. Carry extra small parts in your bag in case something is lost or forgotten. Leave today’s pumped milk with the care provider when you pick up baby so you don’t have to remember to pack it in the morning. Leave an extra shirt or sweater at work in case you have a leak or spill. Pack your lunch in your pump bag…one less bag you have to remember to grab.
These ideas are just a start; there are as many good ideas out there as there are moms who have gone back to work. Share what has worked for you. We’d love to hear from you.