Working moms: How to Maintain a Positive Breastfeeding Relationship
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Working Moms
As you may already have read, breastfeeding brings both short and long-term health benefits for both infants and mothers, including improved cognitive development and better overall quality of health. Not long ago, Dr. Skorberg shared interesting research on breastfeeding reducing a woman’s risk of developing endometrial cancer.
There are numerous studies published in The American Journal of Public Health about the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby, and The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively until your baby is six months old, with breastfeeding continuing until baby is at least 12 months old. Did you know that breastfeeding has extra benefits for working moms?
Continuing breastfeeding when you return to work can help to ease what many new moms describe as a very emotional transition. Pumping at work and providing breast milk to your baby’s caregiver can help you to feel connected to your baby throughout the day. Nursing while you’re together is a great way to reconnect after a busy work day, and helps to promote bonding even when your baby spends several hours away from you each day.
How to Make Breastfeeding Work as a Working Mom
Being a mom isn’t easy, and being a working mom presents even more challenges, so how are new mothers able to maintain a positive relationship to breastfeeding once they return to work?
Here are some tips and strategies for mixing breastfeeding (pumping!) and working:
1. Know Your Rights
Colorado’s Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers Act requires public and private employers who have one or more employees to provide reasonable unpaid break time or permit an employee to use paid break time, meal time, or both, each day to allow the employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for up to two years after the child’s birth.
Employers should make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location near the work area, that is not a toilet stall, where an employee can express breast milk in privacy.
2. Find the Right Breast Pump for You
Pumping breast milk at work can be a challenge, but it’s much easier when you have a breast pump that is right for you and your body.
Breast pump types include manual pumps, battery-powered pumps, electric diaphragm pumps, and electric piston pumps. Electric piston pumps may be the most suitable type for mothers who work outside the home for more than 20 hours per week.
When pumping at work, remember that breast milk can be stored at room temperature for eight hours, refrigerated for up to eight days, and frozen for many months.
This article on the American Family Physician has a lot of good information on choosing a breast pump that works for you, we are also happy to answer questions about breast pumps at your next prenatal care appointment or when you come in for your 6-week postpartum appointment.
3. Make A Workplace Breastfeeding Plan Before You Return
If you’re planning to pump when your return to work, don’t just show up on your first day back with your breast pump in hand. Talk to your employer before you take maternity leave or in the weeks before you return from maternity leave, to make a plan for when and where you can pump when you’ve returned to work.
Pumping schedules will be different for every working mom, depending upon factors such as her work schedule, the age of her baby, and her individual milk supply/comfort level. Some women can go many hours in between pumping sessions, while others have to pump every two hours just to stay comfortable or provide enough milk for their baby. Here are four different example of what a pumping schedule might look like for a working mom:
Planning ahead not only gives your employer time to determine how he or she can best support you, but also will help you feel more confident in your return to work. Take it from us – as working mothers who have all survived that first, tough daycare drop-off and first days fitting pumping into our work routine – planning ahead will make what might feel like an overwhelming transition much easier.
Practice expressing your milk using your breast pump before you go back to work. In the days and weeks before you return to work, help ease your baby into the transition by introducing him or her to breastmilk from a bottle or a cup, depending on their age. Also, try to build up a supply of breastmilk for caregivers to give your baby while you are at work.
Need extra tips for preparing in advance? Visit Women’s Health.gov for information on preparing to return to work and pumping at work.
4. Stay Positive
Breastfeeding is not an all-or-nothing deal. Many mothers combine working and breastfeeding and use formula as a back-up when they are unable to pump enough milk. When this happens, give your baby lots of skin-to-skin contact and nurse when the two of you are together. When you get home from work, nurse while you rest lying down. If you have an older child, include him or her in this reunion for some quality time together. And remember, when you’re at home, carrying your baby in a baby sling can help you both to feel safe and connected while going about your daily routines.
It’s okay if your baby’s breast milk feedings need to be supplemented occasionally. You’re an amazing mom, and any breastmilk you’re able to provide is a wonderful thing. As long as your baby is loved and cared for, he or she will grow up healthy and happy.
You can do it!
Maintaining breastfeeding once you go back to work can be a challenge and requires a bit of organization and planning to be successful, however, the benefits of continuing to breastfeed are great for both mother and child. Pumping while at work will provide you with quiet moments to focus on your baby during what might be an otherwise busy work day, and nursing is a great way to reconnect when you’re back together.
At A Woman’s Healing Center, we encourage and support all new mothers in achieving their breastfeeding goals, whether they’re three weeks, three months, or three years. If you have breastfeeding questions or would like to be connected to breastfeeding support groups, please speak with your OB-GYN or call our office at (970) 419-1111 and choose option 3 to speak with a nurse.
Additional Resources for Nursing + Working Mothers
For additional information, please visit the following trusted sources: