Many women manage to balance continuing to breastfeed while going back to work with a little planning. Whether you go back to work full-time or part-time, you can develop a work-and-breastfeeding routine that works for you, your family, and your baby.
Planning Ahead Before Going Back To Work
Whether you’re returning to a workplace you’re familiar with or starting a new role after bringing your new baby home, you’ll want to plan ahead for going back to work and breastfeeding. This planning should include a clear understanding of what your workplace offers in terms of space and storage and can include considerations about where your baby will be cared for while you’re working.
Here are some planning considerations to add to your checklist:
Ask about a flexible schedule. Some employers may allow nursing mothers to arrange works schedules or locations around breastfeeding needs. Shift work may be able to be adjusted and some jobs may be possible to do remotely to allow for feedings throughout the day.
Consider nearby childcare. If a flexible schedule isn’t possible, leaving your workplace during lunch or breaktimes to feed baby may be an option if your little one is being cared for nearby. Search for childcare possibilities within a short distance from your workplace or see if there is onsite daycare for the children of employers.
Ask HR about accommodations for pumping milk during the day. There may already be a private space in your place of employment for expressing milk, but if not, HR should be able to find you appropriate accommodations. If you have your own private office, check in with HR about rules surrounding pumping there if the door is locked.
Creating a Schedule for Breastfeeding & Expressing
Once you’ve sorted through the details, it’s time to make a schedule to balance expressing your milk, serving expressed milk to baby, and continuing to breastfeed. An example schedule may look like this:
Nurse early in the morning, right after your baby wakes up.
Nurse again just before you leave for work.
Pump your breast milk two or three times during the workday. Store it in a refrigerator and bring it home in an insulated cooler with ice packs to feed your baby the next day.
Have your child-care provider feed your baby the stored breast milk during the day.
Nurse your baby as soon as you get home from work or pick baby up from childcare.
Nurse during the evening.
Additional Make-Sure Points for Balancing Breastfeeding & Work
Make sure to clearly label all the milk you pump, away or at home. This will make it easier for baby’s caregiver to use or freeze milk appropriately.
You’ll also want to work on transitioning from breast to bottle before you go back to work. Of course, you may not be trying to forgo breastfeeding entirely, but ensuring baby is receptive to being bottle fed is crucial to putting your plan to balance breastfeeding and work into practice.