When you return to work, it’s possibly going to be the longest you’ve been away from your little one since they were born, it can understandably be a really emotional time.
But don’t worry, breastfeeding is a lovely way to maintain the close bond you’ve built over maternity leave, and you don’t need to stop just because you’re going back to work!
Breastfeeding after a day at work is a great way for both you and your baby to unwind and reconnect. Don’t forget, even when you’re not breastfeeding full time, one or two breastfeeds a day still benefit your baby’s health.
Here are some tips to make juggling breastfeeding and heading back to work as easy as possible…
Continue to breastfeed when you’re at home as well as expressing using a pump
Doing this means that your baby still benefits from all the benefits of breastfeeding, and their carer can feed them breastmilk in a bottle while you’re away. Remember to label and date expressed milk before popping it into a sterile bag and storing it in the fridge or freezer.
Let your baby practice taking expressed milk from a bottle before you go back to work
That way, they’ll know all about bottles and accept them easily when the time comes!
Speaking to your manager early on about your choice to continue breastfeeding when you return to work will help you plan ahead and ease yourself (and your baby) gently into your new routine and schedule.
Let them know that you're going to be expressing breast milk at work, and that you need a clean, well-lit, ventilated place to do so in – a cupboard, bathroom, or dusty, empty office isn't good enough. You can also ask your HR team if they have a breastfeeding policy to support you.
Think about how you'll store your expressed milk when you're at work
Once you've expressed milk at work, you need somewhere safe to store it for the day. Milk storage pouches are really handy, and your employer should provide you with a fridge or freezer in which to store them. Ice packs and a cool bag will also come in handy when you need to take your milk home.
If you can afford to, it can be handy to keep one pump at home, and another at work. That way, you don’t run the risk of leaving your pump behind and the space in your bag won't be filled with pumping equipment on your commute!
Invest in a hands-free pump
Going hands-free and expressing using a wearable pump means that you can work flexibly as you pump if you want too.
Buy some pump-friendly outfits and accessories
Swap pieces with fiddly buttons and tight-fitting tops for loose, functional styles like lightweight sweaters, wrap shirts or dresses, and specially designed nursing tops. Patterned fabrics are better at hiding unexpected leaks than plain ones! It's also a good idea to treat yourself to a new bag with plenty of space and secure compartments for your pumping paraphernalia.
The likelihood is that some of your colleagues will have gone through the same experiences as you and expressed breast milk at work at some point in their career, so don’t be afraid to talk to other breastfeeding mums (past and present) and ask for their advice.
Looking for support with breastfeeding and returning to work?
- La Leche League Internationalcan provide support to working moms regarding breastfeeding.
- Mamavais a company that’s dedicated to transforming the culture of breastfeeding and has created freestanding spaces that provide breastfeeding parents with a private, clean, and comfortable space to pump or feed at work. There are lactation pods across the country and a mobile app that helps you to locate your nearest one.