Returning to work after having a baby can be a challenging time for new mothers, especially when it comes to breastfeeding. Balancing the demands of work while ensuring that your baby continues to receive the benefits of breast milk can feel overwhelming. However, with the right knowledge and support, it is possible to successfully navigate this transition.
How can you make this easier on yourself? Plan to have some extra support when you get home. We know that no matter how hard the workday was, or how long you were up with baby the previous night, chances are you are going to be excited to see your baby after work. Reconnecting after a long workday or daycare day will be soothing for both/all of you. Breastfeeding is so much more than just nourishment, it is like a big, loving hug, and more! Plan for a close family member/friend to come over after work to help ease the transition by helping with dinner, dishes, chores, and bedtime. Even if they just help make sure your breastmilk goes in the fridge and you have a bit of downtime, that would be amazing! You can also choose to plan ahead and choose quick meals, so that evenings will go more smoothly, and then you can cherish the baby snuggles more.
Connect with an IBCLC
An IBCLC Lactation Consultant can give you an individualized approach to pumping and tips for going back to work that will help YOU succeed. Info on the internet doesn’t compare with a one-on-one appointment that can give you a specific plan to meet your needs, check flange sizes, discuss possible obstacles and ways to prevent them, and the attention you deserve. Also, knowing someone you can go to when things get tough can be such a lifesaver and time saver. We love our messaging portal, as it lets us answer questions/concerns right away. Need an appointment for a concern? Perfect, you already know who to see!
Your Pumping Supplies/ Your Pump Bag
- Your pump and all the parts, including power cord/batteries if needed.
- Spare tubing, valves/membranes
- Storage bags or containers to hold your milk
- Ice pack with cooler
- Hand sanitizer/ soap
- Dish soap
- Hair tie
- Cover up
- Something to read/ pass the time
- Extra breast pads
- Something that reminds you of baby to help get milk flowing
Okay, so now you are actually back to work...
Before you leave the house, put your pump parts together, and check your bag to make sure you didn’t forget anything. Pump with a schedule as much as possible. Make it a priority, but give yourself a short window of time for flexibility (because no one needs to be that strict!). Try your best not to miss a pump session. Bring easy snacks and get lots of hydration to help keep your milk supply up. When home, unpack, put milk in fridge/freezer, and repack as soon as possible to be ready for the next day. Enjoy quality time with your baby. Breastfeed as much as possible to reconnect and to help keep your milk supply up.
Keep Mental Health A PRIORITY
We haven’t EVER heard a mom say that going back to work and breastfeeding/pumping was a breeze. When you return to work, you are now doing another job, in addition to taking care of yourself and your baby, the house, the laundry, the shopping, etc. Remember when you thought it was hard to take a shower before…? Well… let’s just say that parenthood is never perfect? There are amazing moments that will take your breath away and there are terrible moments that will make you want to scream! It happens to all of us, but it is all worth it. Find ways to take care of yourself and make it a routine of it whenever possible.
-Breastfeeding / Postpartum support groups
* If you are having feelings of sadness, feeling down, hopelessness, anxiety, or thoughts about your baby getting hurt, hurting your baby, or hurting yourself or others, please discuss these feelings with your healthcare provider or get help immediately (911)!
Remember, breastfeeding while going back to work may seem daunting at first, but it's an opportunity to fulfill both personal and professional goals. With proper knowledge about using a breast pump effectively, understanding storage guidelines, practicing good hygiene habits, seeking support from employers, other moms, and from a lactation consultant, and implementing time-saving strategies - you'll be able to navigate this journey successfully while providing nourishment for your baby.
For a more detailed and individualized ‘plan of attack’, pumping schedule, tips for building milk supply/creating a milk stash, flange sizing, and ongoing support, consider scheduling a consult, and meet an IBCLC Lactation Consultant that can support you the whole way.