Talk to your employer to see what they can do to support you when it comes to breastfeeding and returning to work and the best option for both of you. And remember, mums who give their babies breastmilk take less time off work than mums of formula-fed babies, so it’s in their interest to help you.
We understand that it can be a real juggling act though, so we asked mums who have managed it for their thoughts on how to make it as stress-free as possible:
A care provider who ‘gets it’ is worth their weight in gold
Having a good care provider who understands your desire to continue breastfeeding can make all the difference in supporting you on this journey. Whether you choose formula or expressed milk, your caregiver can help by holding your baby for all feeds, letting them suck on a soother or clean finger for comfort when needed and helping ensure your baby is awake and ready for a good feed when you return from work.
Get to know that pump
Ah, the breast pump! Definitely a love-hate relationship. On the one hand, they are givers of freedom and flexibility and on the other, noisy, messy and thankless little things! It makes sense to get used to your pump a few weeks before you plan to return to work. For starters, storing some milk in the freezer will give you peace of mind that your baby is not going to go hungry and you’ll also be confident on how to put it together, use it and clean it — saving precious time at work.
Be clear on your pump plan
There is nothing worse than wandering around the office with breasts full of milk trying to find somewhere suitable to express on your first day back! If there is no dedicated room, then you will need somewhere private, preferably with a lockable door or a privacy sign, a plug for your pump if it is electric and a comfortable chair. A bathroom is NOT acceptable. You’ll need to express as often as your baby nurses; ideally every 2-3 hours. And then think about where to store your milk. A refrigerator is ideal but ice packs and a cooler can work too. Read more on how to store breast milk here.
Be prepared to be flexible
Not all days will go to plan. Don’t stress about it. Your milk supply will not dwindle if you miss one feed but stress will not help production. Same goes for all those other chores that will seem to build up. Working full time and nursing is exhausting, so delegate the cooking and housework if you can or be prepared to let some things go. You can’t do it all.
It’s not an all or nothing deal
The important thing is that your baby gets fed, whether that is with your expressed milk or formula, so decide what is right for you. If you do combination feed, then you may need to still express at work to avoid blocked ducts and mastitis as well as keeping up your milk supply.
Don’t cry over spilt milk
Expressing straight into pre-sterilised pouches means there is no need to decant and less risk of spilling your liquid gold. These are super handy for passing over to your caregiver too.
Connect with others
Chances are you won’t be the only nursing mum in your workplace! Seek out others and share experiences, tips and even expressing sessions if you’d like the company.
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