Breastfeeding is hard for every Mom, it’s just that the level of difficulty varies from woman to woman. But when you add a 9 to 5 job (or an 11 to 7 job) to the mix, it makes things that much more complicated!
While maternity leave certainly helps, transitioning back to a work routine still has its challenges. How will I continue to keep up my supply? How will my baby adapt to the change? Am I a terrible mother?
The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months after the baby is born. Most moms aim to complete at least a year of breastfeeding, and joining work in the middle of this year is what causes all the confusion.
But it doesn’t have to be so hard! While breastfeeding as a working mother needs some extra effort, you can certainly make it work, and once you fall into the routine, it gets easier.
Talk to Your Employer
The first and foremost thing to do when you decide to go back to work is to talk to your employer. Find out the breastfeeding policies of your organization, regarding timings and a place for lactation. You can also ask for flexi-timings, where you can work from home a few days a week, or maybe even entirely from home for a few more months. Let your boss and team know that you’re going to be taking 15-20 minute breaks every 3-4 hours, every day for some time, and that this is non-negotiable.
Make Sure Your Have a Daycare Near Your Workplace
There are a few ways to go about the ‘breastfeeding while working’ thing. One is obviously pumping milk at work and taking it home to baby. Other options are where someone brings the baby to you at work, or you go to the baby at day care. Someone bringing the baby to you is ideal, but not always practical. On the other hand, if you can find a day care centre that’s close by, you can use your breaks to go and feed your baby directly.
Introduce Baby to the Bottle
If your baby has been exclusively breast fed, it’s a good idea to introduce the bottle well in advance. However, make sure you cross the 8 weeks mark to avoid nipple confusion. Pump and feed your baby with the bottle a few times in advance so it’s not a shock when she has to feed from the bottle for many times at a stretch during the course of the day.
Buy a Good Pump
A good pump is every working and breastfeeding mother’s best friend. This is not something to skimp on, because it can make a world of difference in your productivity and stress levels. Get a double pump that will pump both breasts at once, so you save time. It should be able to work on batteries, in case you can’t find a plug or there’s no power. A pump that works noiselessly is a bonus. Make sure to get a bag to carry all the pump accessories too.
Look for Pumping Slots
You shouldn’t have to pump in a grimy bathroom. Many employers are now waking up to this truth and have designated spots for new Moms to nurse their babies or pump, so
find out where they are in advance. If such rooms are not available, you may have to look for other unfrequented rooms or areas. The last thing you want to do when you’re all engorged and ready to pump is to run from room to room looking for the right place
Wear Breastfeeding Friendly Clothing
You’re going to need a wardrobe makeover now that you’re going to be pumping multiple times a day every day. Avoid closed neck dresses or tops unless you want to undress completely for every pumping session! Go for wrap dresses, cowl neck tops or button down shirts for easy access. Don’t forget pumping bras that make the job much easier. Keep a full set of clothing at work in case of a mess up.
Take Care of Your Diet
Going back to work while breastfeeding is going to be a big change and being separated from your baby is going to add to the stress. Make sure your body is equipped to deal with this big change by nourishing it properly. Eat foods that help increase breast milk supply, along with a diet that’s rich in whole grains, protein and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Gather All Your Supplies
Make sure you are well prepared so your pumping schedule runs smoothly. Carry your baby’s photo to help with milk let-down. Be sure to carry extra towels and breast pads to deal with unexpected spills or leaks. It’s also a good idea to buy an extra set of everything, from bottles to pump parts.
Do Several Practice Runs
As mentioned, this is a big change. Try it out at home several weeks before the actual transition. Pump as per schedule, store it in the same way you would do it at your workplace and feed your baby pumped milk. Get someone else to feed the baby starting with one feeding and then gradually increasing it.
Get the Support
Forget the myth of the super Mom – she doesn’t exist. Pumping is hard work, and if your office is less than equipped for such situations, you also have the extra stress of sticking to a schedule, finding a solitary spot, assembling and removing everything, and still ensuring that you don’t fall behind on your job. Your time at home should be with your baby who was away from you all day. Leave the washing, sterilizing and everything else to someone else while you enjoy your special time with your little one.
(Pratibha Pal spent her childhood in idyllic places only fauji kids would have heard of. When she's not rooting for eco-living or whipping up some DIY recipes to share with her readers, Pratibha is creating magic with social media. You can view her blog at www.pratsmusings.com or reach to her on Twitter at @myepica.)
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