By Erin Rodriguez, Lactation Counselor
When going back to work from maternity leave you have a lot on your mind. For a breastfeeding mother, one of the many concerns is how to keep your supply up and how to balance your new life. There are a few steps you can take to help make your transition as smooth and seamless as possible.
One of the first steps you can do before going back to work is to talk to your manager or HR manager. In this conversation, you will be able to find out what options are available to you for a location to pump. You will also be able to work out a schedule as to when you can pump. Be advised that some companies may require you to clock out while pumping if you are not working at the same time. Also, some companies may also request a note from the doctor stating how many times a day you should be pumping and for the overall duration that you needing to pump to fulfill your goal length for a breastfeeding experience. You will need to make sure there is a place to store your pumped milk or will you need to bring your own cooler with ice packs.
The next thing you can do to prepare for your transition back to work is to start building your milk supply about two to three weeks prior to your first day back to work. Since breast milk can be stored for no more than 3 months in the freezer and 2 days in the refrigerator, you don’t want to start as soon as you get home from the hospital. If you start to build your reserve milk supply about two to three weeks prior to returning to work this takes some pressure off yourself and allows you to enjoy your time with the baby.
You should also make sure you like and know how to use your pump. If you haven’t tried using your pump yet you should test it out about two weeks prior to returning to work. This will allow you to understand how it works and if you have the correct size flange. At this time you may not feel comfortable with a mechanical pump and may decide to use a manual pump or self-expression. Having the time will allow you to find your comfort level.
The last thing you should do to prepare for your return to work is to speak with your child’s caregiver. Whether it is s family member or your child will be going to daycare, informing them your plan to still breastfeed is key to ensure everyone is on the same page. Also, you will need to make sure that there is a place for you to properly store your milk for your child each day.
When going back to work, just take it one step at a time. It is a transition take can put a lot of pressure on a new mom. The biggest thing is to just enjoy your time with your little one.
If you have any questions, make sure to ask your pediatrician on your next visit.