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Breastfeeding: Returning to Work

When You Can't Always Be Home

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Returning to work: A growing number of women are making the choice to continue to breastfeed their baby after returning to work or school. There are several benefits that you and your baby will enjoy when you continue to breastfeed after returning to work.
  • Your baby may be sick less often due to the antibodies found in breast milk.
  • Breastfeeding may help ease your anxiety over separation.
  • Your baby will be comforted and secure when reunited with you through nursing.
Many companies have become more sensitive to the needs of breastfeeding mothers. Find out what your company's policies are for a leave of absence and what options are available upon your return to work. Can you work at home for a period of time? Are you able to return to work on a part-time basis? Is flextime an option? Are you able to pump 2-3 times during the workday?

Tips:
  • Try to delay the return to work as long as you can. Mothers are more able to blend breastfeeding and working if they wait until the baby is 3-4 months old.
  • It is helpful if your breasts are making plenty of milk before you are back at your job. Breastfeed often and do not give a lot of formula.
  • You can pump after your baby has finished nursing to build a supply of frozen breast milk to use when you are away from your baby.
  • Attend a class, read a book, or join a support group for working mothers who breastfeed.
  • Learn to trigger your letdown (the flow of your milk) by sitting in a cozy chair that supports your back and arms. Find a quiet place to pump, listen to relaxing music, drink fluids, look at a picture of your baby, or hold your baby's blanket to your chest so you can smell the scent.
  • You will need to pump your breasts every 3-4 hours while you are separated from your baby. Think about renting a large, electric pump with a double setup. It will take 15 minutes to pump with a double electric pump, or about 30 minutes to pump any other way.
  • Learn how to store and thaw your milk.
  • Have someone teach your baby to drink from a bottle when your baby is about 3 or 4 weeks old.
  • Pick a caregiver that has the same beliefs you do about caring for your baby. The caregiver should be supportive of your breastfeeding choices.
  • Mom should drop and pick up the baby at the caregiver to minimize time away. If your baby is home, go directly home, another adult should run errands on the way home. If you plan to leave formula for your baby, talk with your pediatrician about the type of formula to use and how much to offer. If you do not plan to pump at work, wean your baby from the feedings that will be missed about 2 weeks before returning to work. Remember, it takes 3-5 days to wean from each missed feeding. Do not wean too quickly. Keep breastfeeding often during the scheduled time that you will be with the baby.
Your plan:
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About The Author

Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. She teaches prenatal classes and counsels individuals, helping women eat right and stay fit before, during and after their pregnancies.
Becky Hand

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