Breastfeeding and the Workplace
Many mothers go back to work soon after their babies are born. This guide can help you balance returning to work and breastfeeding.
Prepare During Your Pregnancy
It's important to prepare for the eventual need to feed your baby while at work or prepare milk for him/her while working. Here are some tips to get you ready for breastfeeding and working:
- Learn about your company's maternity leave policies before you have your baby. It can be hard to plan how long you will need to be out until later in your pregnancy but it always helps to let people know earlier rather than later
- Find out if you can go back on a part-time or flex-time schedule, or if there is a job-sharing plan. This will help you move back into work slowly
- Ask if you employer has a policy for breastfeeding at the workplace or during the workday.
- Try to note times in your current work schedule that will allow you to breastfeed or pump milk when the time comes
- Plan a way to store your milk at work - whether in a company refrigerator or in an ice-chest and create a labeling system so you - and others - will know about your milk
If no policy is in place, discuss these issues with your employer and have a plan in place that you both agree on.
Prepare During Maternity Leave
After having your baby you will learn quite a bit about feeding times and preferences. Use your maternity leave to make a return-to-work plan involving breastfeeding. Here are some tips:
- Learn when the best times occur for expressing milk and feeding your baby so you know when to expect this at work
- Become comfortable nursing in different environments so you will feel more comfortable at work
- Find a child care provider who will support your plans for breastfeeding and is near where you work
- Make sure you have work-proper clothes that will make breastfeeding or pumping easy and reduce the visibility of leaks
Returning to Work
Here are some tips to make the feeding transition a little smoother when you return to work.
- Try to get up early and nurse your baby before going to work. This will keep the little one happy at least for a while!
- Bring an item to work to help you relax and express milk. Something reminding you of your baby is a perfect idea
- Store your breast milk in 2-4 ounce amounts for a young baby and label the bottles thoroughly so an employer or day care provider will know who it belongs to and how fresh it is
Using these tips should help you transition successfully from pregnancy to maternity leave. The most important thing to remember is good communication with your employer will help make the process easier. If you are not clear on a policy or require more flexibility, just ask.
For questions or assistance, please contact Breastfeeding Support Services at 605-322-4490.