First of all, happy World Breastfeeding Week! I am devoting a lot of my time to this, in both professions. I feel that it is very important that we are able to discuss these concerns with each other. It can be hard to decide where to start, or the best way to go about it. Every baby and mother are different, but hopefully these common tips will help you get started on that journey!
The first thing you are going to need is a pump; try to find a personal double electric pump. If you have insurance, chances are they now cover pumps. The ACA singed in 2010 requires that health plans cover breastfeeding support and supplies. This is not required for Medicaid coverage so be sure to call and find out more information on your plan. Contact your local WIC office, women who are on WIC and are going back to work, school, or have a medical issue can receive an electric pump.
Prepare yourself. If you are planning to go back to work around 6 weeks, which I find is the average, get your pump as soon as possible after delivery. Start by pumping for about 15 minutes once a day when you are com for table with beginning. The best time to do this is between 1-5 a.m.. Don't skip a feeding for this pumping session, you can choose to do this between nursing sessions or right after. Don't fret if you don't get much! The bottles that come with the kits are large, and it can be overwhelming thinking you have to fill those up! Remember you are feeding a newborn, and trying to establish your supply. Anything you pump is extra, and no matter what the amount, that is amazing! Take this extra milk, put it into a storage bag, label it, and stick it in the freezer. This is all to help you get accustomed to using your pump, and to help you get a stash going!
If you haven't done so yet, meet with your employer. They will appreciate the heads up and time to prepare, especially if there is not an established lactation room. Be sure to go over your daily schedule that will include taking pumping breaks.
Find a childcare provider, whether it be family or a daycare. If you are searching for a daycare, find one that is close to where you work. Be sure to ask questions about the support they provide for breastfeeding mothers. Visit a few times before baby’s first day, get to know the staff, and touch toys and items in the center. Your body will produce immunities to the germs in the daycare, and these will help to protect your baby through your milk. Be sure to have a backup plan in case you or baby gets sick on a workday!
At around 4 weeks your supply will be more established. This is the time to introduce a bottle and the childcare provider.
You may find that you need to have someone other than you give the bottle, this is okay. Baby refusing the bottle from you is a very common occurrence. Try having dad or grandma give it a go! You don't have to skip a nursing session to introduce bottles; you can do this at any time. Just as with breastfeeding, trying while baby is ready to nurse and getting fussy makes it more difficult. Pick a time when baby is in a great mood.
Introduce the care provider in baby steps! Start with just a few hours a day, and work your way up to the amount of time you will usually be gone.
When starting work, you may want to start back at just part time, and work your way up like you did with your childcare provider. A great tip is to also start back later in the week. Starting back work can be stressful; having a short week in order to look forward to the weekend with your baby can help relieve some of that stress.
Hopefully these tips will help you get started into preparing for returning to work! As always, if you’d like feel free to contact me! Talk to other mothers who have gone back to work, meet with a lactation consultant, or your local WIC Peer Counselor.