Women have been combining work with motherhood for thousands of years. Since babies get their nutrition directly from their mothers, society expected moms and babies to be literally joined at the hip for the first year or more. It’s only been in recent history that “going back to work” has been a potential roadblock to continuing to breastfeed. Although it is normal to work while caring for baby, our modern world and societal expectations often require moms to be separate from baby while working.
So, is it really possible to continue breastfeeding while working away from baby? Absolutely! It takes some planning and commitment, but as a mother, you’re already committed to your baby and you’re probably a master planner and multi-tasker! Just make sure you have the tools and information you need to be successful.
If you are working more than 20 hours a week, you will need a professional-grade breastpump that is designed to be used every day, several times a day for a year or more. Expect to pay 200 to 350 dollars. Some very good brands include: Medela, Hygeia and Ameda. Hygeia is my current favorite because Hygeia pumps have a 3-year warranty AND are FDA approved for multiple users.
When preparing your return to work, be sure to talk to you employer and colleagues about your plan to continue breastfeeding while working. Find other mothers in your workplace who have pumped at work. They will be a great support. Remember that pumping only requires a small, private space and a chair. You don’t even need an outlet if your pump has a battery pack!
Before you return to work, make sure your baby knows how to take your milk from a bottle or cup. Give your baby at least 2 weeks to learn this new skill.
Store a few bottles of milk in the freezer just in case! Accidents happen—milk gets spilled, milk gets left at work, etc. You don’t need a whole freezer full of milk! Remember you’ll be replacing what your baby drinks every day!
If possible, visit your baby at lunch. Or arrange for your baby to be brought to you. Mothers who have access to their babies breastfeed longer. This practice will also do wonders for your milk supply!
Most importantly, take care of yourself. Learn to delegate! Make sure you eat well and sleep whenever you can. Remember, you now have two full-time jobs!