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Going back to work after your maternity leave is a difficult experience for all moms. Even though you hunger for some adult contact and conversations, you still miss spending that one-on-one time at home with your baby. Pumping at work just adds a whole new layer of challenges to it, but here are some tips to make your life easier.
1. Commit to the experience – Pumping at work isn’t impossible, but it’s challenging. You just learned how to nurse (which wasn’t nearly as natural as you thought!), now you have to add pumping to the mix. Keep in mind that you’re doing this for your baby.
2. Consider other possible arrangements – Before you jump back into work, think about ways you might introduce pumping and nursing into your daily work routine. Perhaps you have the option to work part-time, work from home, or your daycare is nearby so you can stop in and breastfeed!
3. Breastfeed often and right away – Make sure to breastfeed as regularly as possible before going back to work. This will help regulate your milk supply, so you can meet your little one’s nursing needs; it will also ensure your supply is adequate enough to fill the 4-5 bottles your daycare may require to your little one nourished throughout the day. Also be aware that your child care facility may discard unused milk at the end of the day, so if you’re like them to keep it….be sure to ask!
4. Speak with your employer – Your employer is required by law to make reasonable accommodations so you can pump at work, but you might have to give him/her some time to make arrangements. You’ll need a time and place to pump (that isn’t a bathroom), somewhere to sit, an electrical outlet, and access to a refrigerator for milk storage.
5. Practice with your pump – Experiment with your breast pump several times before you go back to work. Read all the instructions, learn the pieces, use it a few times, clean it, and check out a YouTube tutorial if you just can’t figure it out. You don’t want to be at work and struggling to use your pump for the first time.
6. Freeze milk in small portions – Always freeze your supply in two ounce increments (think two, four, or six ounce portions). This makes it easy to thaw quickly and prevents you from wasting too much. When milk thaws, it should be used within 24 hours and will separate into two layers, with the cream rising to the top. Gently swirl the milk, do not shake it (shaking will damage the milk proteins)! It won’t be long until you’re professional pumper; you’ll quickly learn how much milk your baby needs, even as their appetite increases over time.
7. Milk Storage– Mother’s milk has an abundance of immune properties but in order to preserve the milk’s freshness, special guidelines must be followed. While it’s best to store milk in a refrigerator, preserving freshness for up to 5 days, you can also store it at room temperature for up to 8 hours (or 24 hours with an ice pack). If you don’t plan to use your milk within 5 days, pop it in the freezer, where it can keep for up to 12 months.
8. Select “nursing clothes” – You’ll need to wear clothes that can be easily adjusted to gain access to your breasts. Typically, this means two-piece outfits, but if you’re brave and have a private place, you might be comfortable in a dress (though I don’t recommend it, personally). Leaks will happen, so go with prints, patterns, and always keep a suit jack or sweater in your workspace to hide accidental wet spots. If you’d rather not keep a spare wardrobe at the office, throw LatchPal in your breast pump bag and use it while pumping to keep your clothes secure and stain free!
9. Introduce the bottle carefully – This can be a touchy subject, but there’s no way to avoid an artificial nipple when you go back to work. If you need to use a bottle, I recommend using a slow flow nipple and paced bottle feeding. You’ll need to introduce this method a few times, but not before a successful breastfeeding routine has been established. It’s best to wait a month, before offering an artificial nipple (to avoid nipple confusion). Simply put, “nipple confusion” is your child’s preference for one nipple over another, so it’s best to find a manufactured nipple that’s similar to your own, to prevent confusion or preference.
10. Be honest with your coworkers – As a new mother, your body is constantly changing and adapting to your child’s needs; you shouldn’t feel insecure or embarrassed about pumping at work. It may be a new twist on your work day, but it’s important for your child’s health. Find a location and environment that makes you comfortable, and don’t feel afraid to speak up and ask for pumping accommodations. If someone asks questions, be truthful, honest, humorous and informed about breastfeeding and your rights!
Written by Melissa LaHann, Founder and CEO of Happy Fig, LLC
Like many moms before her, Melissa cradled her hungry, crying baby as she clumsily adjusted her bra and sat uncomfortably holding up her shirt. Before she knew it, her baby was squirming, her shirt was falling, and the nursing session was interrupted. She needed a better solution, so she created LatchPal, the first nursing clip of its kind.
LatchPal is a breastfeeding shirt clip that holds up a mother’s shirt during breastfeeding. It eliminates shirt re-positioning and feeding disruptions, and helps a mom nurse hands-free in comfort to maximize milk flow. LatchPal was designed with moms in mind. The multi-use solution only requires one hand to latch. It’s a must-have breastfeeding accessory and essential for post-partum moms, pumping moms, and nursing in public.
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