[Updated November 22, 2016]
Going back to work can be a challenging and stressful time for a breastfeeding mom. Not only are you juggling competing demands for your time, but your time spent at work cuts into those precious hours snuggling your little one.
But with a little planning, it’s possible to make the transition back to work easier. Try to incorporate these tips for a smooth and painless back-to-work transition.
While You’re Pregnant
- Know your rights. Employers are required to provide a reasonable break for nursing moms to pump at work. That means you should be offered a place other than a bathroom to pump as often as you need to during your baby’s first year.
- Talk to your employer in advance about pumping at work. Being open with your employer about your plans will help to make the transition easier.
- Reach out to other moms in your office for support and advice. Each workplace is different, so it can be helpful to hear how other moms have successfully pumped in that environment. Also, their encouragement can help make the transition back to work easier.
After Baby Arrives
- Start pumping. Try out your pump while you’re still at home with your baby so that once you’re back to work you know how your pump works, about how long an average pumping session takes, and what type of output to expect.
- Develop a storage plan. The Medela Freestyle Deluxe Set and Pump In Style Advanced breast pumps both come with a cooler pack that holds four breast milk bottles and provides up to 12 hours cooling time.
- Stock up on essentials. Make sure you have enough nursing pads, pump-friendly work tops, breast milk removal soap, and other essential items for making the return.
- Consider a second pump. Some moms, especially those who are exclusive pumpers, find having one pump for home and another for work eases the burden of carrying an armload of bags to and from work every day.
Once You’re Back At Work
- Breastfeed before and after work. This will help ensure your baby spends as much time as possible at the breast. These frequent breastfeeding and pumping sessions can help maintain milk supply.
- Bring photos of your little one to work. Some moms even choose to bring clothing with their baby’s smell or a recording of their baby’s coos. All of these items can put you at ease and help with milk let down while pumping.
- Try to pump as often as you would breastfeed. Pumping every 2 to 3 hours is ideal. Although, many working moms find that, realistically, they take a morning, lunch, and afternoon pumping break.
- Pump hands-free. Depending on your job, you can continue to work while you pump if you use a hands-free pump like the Medela Freestyle or the Easy Expression® Bustier. Also know that if you choose not to work while you pump, that’s ok too!
- Use nursing bra pads if necessary. There are comfortable options that prevent embarrassing wet spots on work clothes.
- Encourage caregivers to feed your baby no later than an hour before you return home. Then you’ll know your baby will be ready for a nursing session as soon as you’re done with work. This will help keep your bond with your baby strong.
Working moms, do you have any more tips to add? Share them in the comments below.