Breastfeeding and Work
You and your baby have finally gotten the whole breastfeeding thing down: You’ve mastered the art of the latch-on. He’s nursing pretty much on schedule. Your milk supply is keeping up. He’s growing like a champ. And the initial pain in your breasts and nipples has subsided. But now your maternity leave is almost over. It’s time to go back to work, but you want to keep nursing, and you’re not sure how you’ll be able to keep it up.
Here are some tips for balancing breastfeeding and work:
- Take as much time off as you can – as much as your employer and your household budget will allow – after your baby is born. This will allow your milk supply to strengthen and stabilize before you return to work.
- If at all possible, find a way to continue to nurse your baby once a day by finding a caregiver near where you work – or perhaps by negotiating to work from home several days a week. If you’re lucky enough to have a workplace with on-site daycare, get on the waiting list early so you can take advantage of it.
- Get a breast pump that works for you and figure out where you can use it at work: Is there a designated “lactation area?” Can you lock your office door? Is there a conference room with a door that locks? A special stall with an outlet set aside in the ladies’ room? In a pinch, a bathroom will do, but it’s not exactly ideal. Talk to your employer about where you can pump. You need a spot with privacy and electricity (though many electric pumps can also run on batteries). You’ll also need a place to store your expressed milk (though you can always bring your own cooler). If there’s no space, maybe you can adjust your work schedule to accommodate your baby’s nursing schedule.
- If you cannot pump at work as regularly as you’d like or cannot pump at all, don’t beat yourself up if you need to have your baby’s caregiver supplement with formula for the hours you’re at work. Breastfeeding exclusively may be the ideal, but for many women, it’s just not possible. Any breast milk your baby gets is good for him. But it’s also good for your baby to have the roof over his or her head, a mother who has food to eat, and other things your salary provides. A happy mommy is nice, too – so give yourself a break about the ways you may be falling short of your ideal version of motherhood and focus instead on the things you’ve managed to accomplish. In other words, just do your best.