Breastfeeding for the Working Mom: Back to Work

You’ve decided to breastfeed. Check.
You’ve brought baby home. Check.

But now maternity leave is coming to a close.
Some people will cry for the first week. Others will have a celebration on the way out the door.
Whatever your situation, here are some things to help you make the transition while still producing milk for baby!

As usual…THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE.
If you have questions about anything, I will give you the best answer that I can, but always consult your doctor for any finality about what is said.
Reading the post expresses your agreement to the above statements.

17. Introducing the Bottle. Don’t do it when you are anywhere close. LEAVE THE BUILDING. Because baby is going to laugh at you. More like scream at you. Some babies transition better than others. Some will scream and cry. Others don’t care as long as there is food. If your baby is the screamer, try this. Make sure that whoever is introducing the bottle can be patient and loving in the midst of a confused baby’s emotions. There are many bottle types out there. My philosophy was, you will eat when you are hungry enough. Others will try multiple bottles. Do what you need to do. But as far as who introduces it, I will say that it is a great opportunity for daddy bonding or grandmother bonding or other caregiver bonding. I’ve been really selfish with baby #2, but my husband has said that he loved it when it was time to introduce the bottle because he is then able to spend that cuddle time with Baby, beginning to build relationship. Make sure that whoever is introducing the bottle is someone that they are already familiar with. Don’t make too many changes at once.

18. Practice Pumping. I like to start about a week or two before heading back to work. So from 8-5 or whatever time, I (mostly) avoided nursing. That way, I can learn my pump, how much time it takes, and what sort of supply to expect. You figure out where things will fit in your freezer and what is the best system for making bottles. It’s also a chance to ease baby into the bottle instead of throwing them in all at once. It seems to take the pressure off of one big day to start it all. You get to go more at your own pace.

19. Store some snacks in your pump bag. The recommended additional caloric intake in pregnancy is 300. When breastfeeding, it’s 500. You are going to be hungry. You have a bag with an ice pack. USE IT. Store some good, healthy snacks in there for when you have to pump! Cheese, hummus and carrots, fruit—perhaps even a caffeinated beverage if you know you’ve got a long day ahead (not that I ever drink caffeine while nursing…). Being hungry is the last thing you are going to need to worry about when you’re balancing working, studying, breastfeeding, pumping, and everything else that you do!

20. What You Eat Still Matters. I have to stay away from broccoli when I’m nursing. I know it affects her. Other things don’t seem to. I can usually eat all the Indian food I want without a problem. You learn as you go, but pay attention. You will notice a pattern. Decongestants keep mine up all night, for instance….

21. Oh, and Drink Water. It’s recommended that us nursing moms drink 3 liters a day. That’s roughly 100 ounces. THAT’S A LOT. But you’ll feel better if you do!

22. Facilities. I have never had an issue with this. I have heard of people who have. I would just say this. Sometimes, people don’t know what you need because they have never breastfed or been close to anyone who has. Exercise patience and grace. Be proactive with the “Hey, would you mind if I made a sign and used this room to pump?” I’ve never been told no. Yes, you have rights. But that strong of a statement should only become an issue as a last resort. That is not a way to make breastfeeding a positive in someone’s eyes. If they are being ridiculous, however, by all means…

23. Keep a “Room in Use” sign and some sticky tack in your pump bag. Sometimes that’s all you need when out and about or in an office setting, especially if you find yourself in different places every month. It just makes it easier for you and less awkward for everyone else.

[You can have this one if you’d like! Just right click, save to downloaded images, and it’s yours!] Room In Use

24. Trouble with milk letdown? Keep plenty of pictures and videos of baby on your phone—laughing, crying, sleeping…breastfeeding is a hormonally-driven process. Use it to your advantage! When you go to pump, relax, remember why you’re doing what you’re doing, and watch the videos. If someone is keeping baby that you can call while pumping, that can help too—but that’s pretty dependent on an individual situation.

25. Utilize your pumping time. Didn’t I just say to chill out and watch videos? Yes, yes I did. But you’ll get better at this whole thing if you stick with it long enough. I can’t say some of this post wasn’t written while either hooked up to a machine or with baby in tow. It does get better. One of my favorite things about pumping? I basically have time set aside to actually put makeup on. Every. Single. Day. And that is pretty awesome.

26. Continue breastfeeding when you can. This, again, will vary depending on your schedule, of course. But make the effort to actually breastfeed when you can. It’s just better all the way around for all sorts of reasons that you can research on your own.

27. You don’t have to pump every 2 hours. I know after the first week of having baby home, you feel like about the time you’ve cleaned up, sat down, and gotten comfortable, it’s time to nurse…again. It does not stay like this! Baby will eat more but less frequently. Now. I have been in some working situations where a mom pumps every 3 hours. That is awesome if you have that flexibility! I can’t say that I do—and not because anyone has told me that I don’t. But, I am in surgeries more than twice that long. It doesn’t really set me up for future success if I’m in and out that much. Believe it or not, I have gotten to where I can stretch it out for an entire business day. Sure, it gets a little uncomfortable if the day gets stretched long, but it works for me. I didn’t just do that all at once. I spent a month building up to that, after I had been able to pump once at lunch for 4 months. When I actually do sit down to pump, sure it takes longer…but I only have to set everything up once. BONUS. I haven’t had any supply problems with it, but, again, this is just my experience.

Next up: Other Reminders and Reader Suggestions! [So share any suggestions you have!]

Comments ( 6 )

  • Cindi Lepley, DNP

    Stephanie, if you try to pump or breast feed at a minimum of 2-4 times per day you can keep that supply a little longer! What a great blog. I am a breast feeding Advocate and I see many patients, adults, who seem to struggle with this. Unfortunately most folks don’t attend childbirth classes so not only do they have to learn how to breast feed, they have all the other challenges that go along with bringing a baby home! Keep up the awesome work!

    • I suppose childbirth classes ARE a great asset that I have forgotten about! I will try to include that on the reader suggestions! Thank ya’, ma’am!

  • Lisa

    With my second, I planned to breast-feed longer (my first had surgery at 10 weeks which ended that). When I went back to work, even WITH a DND sign on my door, a coworker walked in on me (no locks) which made me nervous from then on…then they sent me to a weeklong class to which I brought my son and had a babysitter but there was NOWHERE to pump during the day and trying in a bathroom stall didn’t work, the babysitter would bottle feed him just before I got there and by the end of the week, I was done.

    • I’m sorry you had such a rough journey! It is hard getting everyone on board when there are multiple caregivers for the little one. It takes a LOT of communication and a LOT of willingness on EVERYONE’s part!

  • So this isn’t an issue I’ve got to think about yet, but I’m filing it mentally for future things. lady, is there a way to follow dees blog on bloglovin or another platform?

    • I think this is a Michael question….let’s see what I can find out 🙂

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