Now that your maternity leave is coming to an end and you have to start thinking about transitioning back into work you’re suddenly start thinking about the implication.
Until now you’ve been nursing your baby a few times daily and you want to ensure that she’s still getting your breast milk after you’ve returned to work. This means you’ll have to express at the office but you’re wondering where you’ll be doing so, and will it be safe to store your breast milk in the fridge.
These 11 breastfeeding tips for working mother will help you make the transition easier.
- Starting with the right pump
There are different pumps available on the market for different purposes. You’ll need to buy a pump that is doing the best job. Make sure it is designed to cater for regular pumping at work. It needs to have the appropriate size flanges and preferably double electric.
- Building up a freezer stash
Before going back to work, make sure you pump enough to start building a backup stash in the freezer. Milk that you express daily are given to the baby the next day. Your freezer stash is for emergency situations.
- Getting your baby used to drinking from a bottle
Start weaning your baby from the breast, but not too early. Dietitians recommend introducing the bottle to your baby round about three to six weeks after giving birth. Because your baby is relating you with feeding time, start by having your nanny or partner give her the first few bottles. Also give her a bottle about an hour after her regular feed to make sure she’s not overly hungry.
- Creating a schedule
It is recommended for new moms to express every two and a half to three hours or at least three times in a regular eight-hour workday. When your baby gets older, you’ll need to express less often. As your baby is growing and her feedings are more spaced out, you can drop to one or two pumping sessions a day.
- Sticking to your schedule
Before starting your workday, make time for pumping that fits in your daily routine. Look at your diary and to-do-list and if you have any meetings scheduled during the day. If your meeting is in the morning, allocate time in the afternoon for expressing.
- Be flexible about where you’re expressing
Many contemporary workplaces have private rooms for moms to express, but if this is not the case, you’ll need to be flexible. Maybe consider vacant, private offices or ask if you could use a small conference room exclusively for half an hour. Be transparent with your colleagues and keep them in the loop about what you’re doing, to avoid embarrassing barging in.
- Bring plenty of extras
Make sure you are packing enough hand sanitiser, clean bottles, the charger and batteries for your pump in case a plug outlet is not accessible. Make sure you label and date each container of breast milk. Keep the containers in a large lunch bag or Tupperware container and store them in a safe place in the refrigerator.
- Dress appropriately for pumping
The right clothes can set you up for expressing. Consider tops and dresses that give you easy access without the need for taking it off or pulling it up. Overlapping or crossover V-neck shirts, cowl-necks, button downs or camisoles to wear with a shirt on top is ideal for this purpose.
- Nursing to boost your milk supply
It is commonplace not to have the same amount of breast milk when you’re expressing as when you’re breastfeeding. To help maintain your milk supply, you can opt for “nursing vacations”, meaning you’re exclusively nursing and not doing any expressing. Some women welcome a break from pumping.
- Finding an experienced colleague
You’ll be surprised at the support you’ll find when you’re back at the office. Ask around the office whether other colleagues have been in your shoes as they can give you helpful nursing tips and help you navigate through the transition a little easier.
- Stay relaxed
Make sure you are being kind to yourself and try not to stress too much about e-mails and conference calls during your pumping breaks. You are a great mom and you’re doing the best you can. Nursing and pumping are time-consuming and not for the faint-hearted.
Tips for maintaining your milk supply
- Breastfeed as often as possible when your baby is with you
It doesn’t matter how frequently you are pumping, it’s not the same as breastfeeding. Nursing is still the best way for keeping those milk-making hormones producing more milk.
- Milk supply decrease over the course of the day
It’s complete normal for your supply to decline during the afternoon sessions and sometime even during the course of the week. Some days are more productive than others and sometimes your milk supply is higher during the morning.
- Power pumping
Another strategy you can implement for boosting milk supply is power pumping (also referred to as cluster pumping). This is a series of ten-minute pumps. Basically, you’re expressing for ten minutes and then stop for ten minutes continually over the course of an hour. This action simulates your baby’s behaviour during a growth spurt when they are nursing in frequent cluster-like sessions. In combination with frequent nursing sessions, supplements, skin-to skin etc. you can boost your milk supply sufficiently over time.
- Solid foods bring forth change
When your baby starts his intake of solid foods, it generally means a lower breastmilk intake. Once your baby is six months and started on solids, you may not need to pump so much. However, if you keep expressing as frequently like before he started on solids, you’ll find that your supply is now matching the demand.
- Certain foods are great for increasing milk supply
There are many foods that you can include in your eating plan to boost your milk supply like oats, garlic and vegetables such as yams, carrots and dark leafy greens.