Breastfeeding and Returning to Work
After spending several weeks solely focused on caring for your newborn, the thought of going back to work while still doing the mothering thing can be stressful and overwhelming for many mothers. Having as many of the logistics figured out as possible beforehand can help ease the transition.
It may help to talk to your employer about your daily schedule -- maybe starting at part-time for the first couple of weeks until you get back into the swing of things. Also, it may help to return to work on a Wednesday or Thursday so that your first week back will be short.
It's important to talk to your employer about the logistics of pumping while at work. Some of these may include:
- Where you can go to pump that will have electricity and privacy
- How often you can pump
- What changes may need to be made in your work schedule to allow you to pump
- A sink would also be helpful so that you can clean up your pumping accessories after you use them
- Refrigeration is also helpful so you can store your breast milk (or you may need to bring your own cooler if a refrigerator is not available).
It may help to put together a checklist of everything you will need to bring to work to make pumping more efficient. Although it may vary depending on your particular situation, some of the items you might need include:
- Breast pump with an adapter or extra batteries if it is a battery-powered pump.
- Plenty of storage containers or nursing bags to store your breast milk.
- A cooler and ice pack if no refrigerator is available; however, breast milk can be stored at room temperature for roughly four to eight hours.
- A water bottle to help keep you hydrated.
- Healthy snacks, as the caloric intake in breastfeeding women is higher than in those who are not nursing.
- Extra shirts in case your breast milk leaks. Wearing shirts that provide easy access, such as those that open in the front, can make it easier and more efficient while pumping.
- A blanket to help cover you up if the pumping area isn't as private as you would like.
- A support pillow to use under your arm while you pump.
- Anything that may help you relax, such as some music or a picture of your baby (relaxing and thinking about your baby will help speed up the "let-down" reflex).
- Plenty of nursing pads to help prevent leakage through your clothes.
- Lanolin to put on your nipple area to help prevent chapping and cracking (see Breast Care While Nursing).