Here in Australia, parents currently have 18 weeks of paid maternity and paternity leave. During or after that time, however, many mums have a difficult decision to make: to return to work or to stay at home.
A lot of mums will choose to return to work, whether it is to financially support the family, because they enjoy their job, or for many other reasons. What many of these mums struggle with is how they can continue to breastfeed their bubs after they have re-entered the workforce.
We are here to tell you that it is possible as long as you go into it prepared. Below we have a lot of what you need to know about how to get ready for returning to work while also breastfeeding your baby.
2+ Weeks Before Returning To Work
The sooner you begin preparing, the more reassured you will feel that you can still breastfeed your baby despite being at work during the day. You can work on the first step well before your bubs hits the scene:
- Choosing A Breastfeeding-Friendly Caregiver. Unless you have a family member or a close friend lined up to take care of your baby, this can be the most challenging part about returning to work. Sometimes the best option is choosing a nanny or an au pair, or a small home daycare with only one or two other children. If you are interested in a daycare centre, choose one with the highest ratio of adults to infants and drop in unannounced so that you can get a feel for how the centre operates.
If any of the above are unfamiliar and unwilling to handle and feed your baby expressed breastmilk, look elsewhere.
The next step you will need to consider:
- Choosing The Right Pump. The pump you choose should be portable, easy to clean, and most importantly it should allow you to empty your breasts quickly and comfortably. Once you have a pump, it is time to start creating a breastmilk “stockpile”.
- Keep Breastmilk In The Freezer. Ideally you should have at least 16 ounces of breastmilk in the freezer. Breastmilk kept in a freezer will last anywhere from three to six months. Allow it to thaw in the back of the fridge where it will stay fresh for up to two weeks.
Before heading back into work, have a trial run where you leave your baby with the caregiver and check out where you will be situated at your work. You will be able to determine whether you will have access to an electric outlet, whether you need an extension cord, and whether you have private space to pump.
Breastfeeding After Returning To Working
A successful breastfeeding journey after returning to work will largely rely on scheduling. Here is what a breastfeeding schedule may look like:
- Pack everything the night before (re-stock the nappy bag, prepare clothes for you and baby, get stored milk ready for transport, pack your lunch and snacks for work, etc)
- Wake up 20 minutes early and feed your baby (even if bubs is still half asleep)
- Eat a nutritious breakfast (a bagel with cream cheese, yoghurt, and/or a smoothie are all great quick breakfasts)
- Nurse your bubs again if needed
While at your workplace, you will likely need to pump anywhere from one to three times during the day. Whenever you pump, make sure you have a snack on hand as well as bottled water, and allow for anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes to pump (10-15 minutes to empty your breasts and 10 minutes for assembly and cleaning).
After work, feed your baby again and enjoy a nutritious dinner. You may find that your baby will start to nurse more frequently during the night-time hours (this is referred to as “reverse cycle feeding”) and despite it keeping you up at night, it can work well for mums who find it difficult to pump during the day.
Leaking In The Workplace
Leaking breastmilk is a common problem for breastfeeding mums in the workplace. You can help control leaks by:
- Crossing your arms across your chest and applying pressure for 10+ seconds when you feel your milk letting down
- Wearing a nursing bra with leak pads
- Throwing a loose blazer or jacket over your blouse or T-shirt
- Keeping an extra neutral coloured shirt at work
- Wearing dark or brightly coloured prints
Mums who are returning to work often turn to Peachymama for their workplace attire. Featuring the latest prints and styles, our fashions allow mums to both breastfeed and pump as discreetly as possible when at home and at the workplace.