Part 2 (read part 1: Tips To Help Make Breastfeeding Easier)
After maternity leave is over, your first day back to work might be filled with lots of emotions. To ease back into the workplace, I suggest you make your first day back in the middle of the week to make the transition a little less chaotic.
I've listed below the things that have helped me continue breastfeeding and pumping after I returned to work, and while traveling. You'll need to guard your pump time! Block it out on your calendar and set appointment reminders on your phone. For all day meetings and events, remind people in advance that you will need to take breaks for pumping.
Know that your baby may have a transition period where they are refusing to drink from a bottle at daycare. This usually passes within two weeks. You might notice they start to cluster feed at night to make up for it. Expect your baby to want to be attached to you when you get home. It’s their way of saying they missed you.
To encourage breastfeeding success:
- Buy a door stopper and place it behind the door when you pump. For some reason people don’t stop and knock when a door is locked even when there is a sign that says that the room is in use. It will also allow you to use spaces that don’t have a lock with confidence that no one will walk in on you.
- Have lots of pictures and videos of your baby to look at while pumping. Ones of them crying are great to encourage a letdown.
- Pump for every missed for 30 minutes per session, or for 2-5 minutes after the last drops of milk.
- Remember that what you pump is NOT an indication of what baby gets when they are at the breast. Breasts are made for babies, NOT for cold plastic pumps.
- You don’t have to wash out your parts after every use. Store these in a gallon size Ziploc bag and put them in the refrigerator.
- Change out your membranes every couple of months or when you notice a decrease in supply.
- Keep a spare outfit for yourself in your office or car for the days you are leaky.
Items to store in your pump bag:
- extra membranes
- wash cloth to dry yourself off
- milk storage containers
- freezer packs
- gallon size ziploc bags
- nipple cream/coconut oil
- pump, pump power cord
- flanges and tubing
- breast pads
- clean bottles
- phone charger so you can look at pictures of your baby
- snacks and water
For the traveling, breastfeeding parent:
- Print the TSA guidelines for transporting breastmilk and keep them in your carry-on bag to show anyone who may need a reminder.
- Breastmilk does not need to follow the normal 3.4 oz. guideline.
- Your breastmilk does not need to go through the X-ray machine if you don’t want it to. Make sure to allow extra time for the required screenings, as well as a personal pat down by security.
- Ice packs, freezer packs, frozen gel packs and other accessories required to cool formula, breast milk are allowed in your carry-on.
- Some airports have pumping and breastfeeding pods called Mamava. Use their app to locate a pod closest to you. Mamava pods are pretty nice and are a great place if you don’t want to feed or pump in public.
If you don’t have enough time to pump because of the type of job you have, remember you don't have to feed all breastmilk, donor milk or formula. Consider using donor milk or formula for daytime bottle feedings and breastfeed your baby in the morning and night. Your body will adjust to your new schedule. If you decide to change your breastfeeding or pumping schedule, do so slowly. Weaning needs to be a gentle process for your body and your baby to adjust.
Keep in mind that if you find breastfeeding and pumping after your return to work is decreasing your quality of life, weigh the pros and cons. If pumping makes you unhappy, switching to other milk supplies, such as donor milk or formula, might be the healthiest choice for you, emotionally. Yes, breastmilk from you offers the most nutrition for your baby, but having a happy, well-balanced parent is important too.
Find your village at work that's made of people who understand you! It’s also great to have a “phone a friend” when you realize you left behind an essential piece to your pump at home. If you can’t find a village, feel free to join ours! Our Facebook group is Pregnancy & Beyond (metro ATL). We also have various meet ups around the metro area. You can also reach out to your local La Leche League and find out when they have their meetings by looking at the directory.
Being a working parent is all about finding the right rhythm for you. You will live your life on a very tight schedule, but just remember, it’s only a season of your life. The days are long, but the years are short, my friend.