Time to go back to work already? It seems your new baby just got home and you find yourself having to return to the office.! Yes, it feels too soon for some new moms and if you’re a nursing mom, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. But you can do it! Here are five tips to help you navigate expressing your milk on the job.
Tip 1: Purchase a quality breast pump — or two!
Returning to work can be stressful especially for new nursing moms. Having the right tools to help you on the job is essential. Most moms agree that having a breast pump you feel comfortable with using is key to expressing at work. The better relaxed you are, the better milk collection will be. Most nursing moms suggest keeping a pump at work and at home. And if you’d like to truly relax while expressing, try a hands-free pumping bustier.
Tip 2: Plan ahead — talk to your employer
Communicate with your employer to let them know you plan to pump at work. It’s helpful to speak to your employer prior to going on maternity leave. Check to find out about their workplace policies and guidelines for nursing women. Most employers try to accommodate nursing moms. Here are questions to ask before you return:
Is there a private lactation room? Or a private office or space were you can comfortably pump?
Is there access to a refrigerator or freezer? Will you need to bring a cooler to store and transport your milk?
How will your employer accommodate breaks for expressing? Do you need to share a schedule of planned breaks? Do you need to schedule with a manager? Is it possible to flex your schedule to accommodate breastfeeding?
Tip 3: Get ready — preparation starts at home
There are several things you can do to start to prepare which will help you and your baby make a smooth transition. Here are some suggestions to get you prepared.
Start using your breast your pump and become familiar with it. Be sure to express when you’re away from baby at first (a few weeks before) then add some pumping time AFTER your baby has nursed (even if you get just a little milk). This helps improve the amount of milk you produce as you go back to work.
Pump and freeze! Aim to have at least 16 ounces of breast milk frozen before you return to work. This will provide enough milk for your caregiver. If possible, have your caregiver arrange feeding times around your nursing/pumping times. Both you and your baby will appreciate this pre-planning.
Plan how much milk you need daily for your baby. Here’s an easy guide that may be helpful: the average three month old takes 5 ounces per feeding. Multiply this by the number of times your baby nurses each day that you will miss while at work and you get the amount of milk you need to save for each day. So, if baby nurses 6 times daily you would multiply 6 x 5 oz = 30 oz.
Understand how to freeze, thaw, and store your breast milk safely. Purchase added supplies to keep in the office, too: extra nursing pads, clean up supplies, an extra bra, and blouse are a few to keep in mind.
Tip 4: Collection schedule — when and how often
Keep track of your baby’s nursing schedule and plan with your employer to keep lactation breaks as close to this schedule as possible. This will make it simpler to avoid becoming engorged and help you to express. Dress in easily adjustable clothing. Nursing accessible clothing is a must!
Tip 5: You CAN do it — success is achievable
You can do it! Returning to work may add some challenges for a nursing mom but with a bit of planning, proper equipment, and support you can! There WILL be challenges. You may produce less milk than you expected, maybe you spill an entire feeding, or you forget supplies at home (thanks mommy brain!). But stay committed and you can be a successful nursing mom at work and at home.