Top Tips to make Breastfeeding and Returning to Work Easier
Going back to work following Maternity Leave is essential for most of us rather than a choice. There are so many things to think about and organise long before your first day back such as childcare and possible changes to your hours. Something that kept me awake at night, other than the baby was worrying about how I was going to carry on breastfeeding when I went back to work.
Do I have to stop Breastfeeding when I go back to work?
The answer is simply, NO. There’s no reason why you should stop feeding your baby but you may need to express milk for your baby to take whilst you’re at work, and you may need to express during your working day.
This is something that is asked time and again on Parenting Groups and Forums, and a lot of women use their return date as an ‘aim for’ date when thinking of weaning their baby from the breast.
This isn’t the case for everybody though. Some babies don’t take from a bottle or cup at all so feed before mum goes to work and then when they get home again. Some mothers also find that they aren’t able to express milk easily so it’s worth having a go a little while before you go back to work.
The European Commission recommends that Employers should provide Breastfeeding Mother’s with:
- Access to a private room where women can breastfeed or express breast milk
- Use of a secure, clean refrigerator for storing breast milk during working hours
- Facilities for washing, sterilising and storing receptacles
What will I need to Express Breastmilk?
A Breast Pump – This could be a manual or electric pump but I find the most effective way to pump is with a Double Electric Pump.
Bottles/Cups – This is personal preference to your baby. Some will take breast milk from a bottle whilst others will take it from a sippy cup or other form of beaker.
Teats – If using a bottle, it may be that you might have to try out a few teats before finding the right one for your baby. I’ve been using slow-flow or newborn teats so that the milk comes out slower which mimics the rate at which your baby feeds from the breast.
Milk Storage Bags – Milk can be expressed and frozen which is great for building up a bit of a stash for when you’re away from your baby. This could also be useful if you were ill or need to catch up on some sleep when they can be fed by someone else.
A Cool Bag – For putting your expressed milk into. I pour all milk into one bottle and cap it, pop it into my cool bag and put it into the fridge. I prefer this since I don’t want colleagues to question it or touch it to be honest. This also keeps it nice and fresh on the commute home.
A Safe Place to Express or Breastfeed – This ideally needs to be a comfortable lockable room with a chair and access to the above. A toilet cubicle is most definitely not an option and if this is suggested I would seek further advice via the Health & Safety Guidelines for New and Expectant Mothers.
Accessible Clothing – This may seem like a no-brainer but the first time I wore a dress as I considered myself ‘baby free’ I had to get pretty much undressed to express. Clothes with buttons I find best.
Letting your Employer know you’re continuing to Breastfeed
If you’re planning to express breast milk or breastfeed (if baby is nearby) then you will need to notify your Manager so that they can put the necessary arrangements in place
Other things to consider when discussing this with your employer is that you have somewhere comfortable to sit with a plug socket within reach.
It’s always a good idea to keep the lines of communication open with your employer so that you both know each others expectations. I thought that I would need to express twice during the day which is what was agreed between us. Once in the morning and again in the afternoon, but I find that once a day suffices and leaves me comfortable to work and doesn’t eat into my working day too much.
If you work with hazardess substances your employer will need to make the necessary arrangements in place to ensure your safety for the duration of your breastfeeding journey.
When is the Best time to Express Breast Milk?
This is very individual to you. I thought that I would need to express at around 11am and the again at 2pm which were when Freddie would usually feed, but I’ve managed to get it down to one pump session at 1.30pm which is enough until I get home again.
Also be prepare for your baby to want to feed more than usual when you get home, and unfortunately they might start to wake up to feed when they’ve previously slept through the night.
Like breastfeeding in the beginning, it’s all about finding your feet. Having been back at work since May I feel that we now have a good system in place. Freddie does feed more when I get home and the following day but it’s working well for us. As far as work is concerned, I schedule the time into my calendar like I would a meeting and so far it’s gone without any problems.
Looking for a decent Breast Pump?
I’ve been using the Ameda Finesse Double Electric Breast Pump which is designed with the same technology as a hospital grade breast pump. It can be plugged into the mains or be used with batteries so you can move about.
The pump is both easy to use and wash, and is light enough for transporting to and from work. There are multiple settings to find the perfect speed and suction for both comfort and optimum supply. The proven Airlock Protection reduces the risk of contamination for safe milk.
It was recommended to use the Dr Brown’s Options+ Baby Bottles featuring the new breast-like teat shape which is great for switching between breast and bottle feeding. The teats flow mimics the flow of the breast which is perfect and reduces confusion for your baby.
Our Breastfeeding Journey has by no means been an easy one, but Freddie is fifteen months old now and we seem to have quite a good feeding routine going on which is definitely a weight off.
*We were sent the Ameda Finesse Double Electric Pump + a selection of Dr Brown’s bottles for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.