Returning to work or school is challenging after having a baby, no matter how you are feeding your baby. Many women don’t think it is possible for a mom who is separated from her baby to continue to breastfeed. Why is it especially important for a mom to keep nursing her baby then? It is extremely important for both the health benefits and the bonding breastfeeding offers. Child care settings often expose the baby to more germs, and a baby who is sick makes it hard to be a good employee. Mom is either at home caring for the ill child, or worrying about baby if she’s at work.
There is no better way to connect with baby after a period of separation than by having a cozy nursing session when reunited. Moms report this to be the most important reason to keep breastfeeding. Anyone else can be a caregiver, but only mama nurses. It maintains that special relationship that breastfeeding established, smoothing out the return to work.
While you could give the baby formula when you are separated, there are very good reasons to pump and keep your baby on your milk only, and yes, it can be done! Babies that are fed a combination of breastmilk and formula aren’t as healthy as those fed breastmilk only. Feeding formula can often lead to a reduction in milk supply that can lead to early weaning. So while pumping can feel awkward at first, the importance for mother and baby is tremendous; particularly in the prevention of obesity and diabetes. For a comparison check out:
Some ideas to make the transition easier:
If possible, it’s a good idea to go back to work or school during the middle of the week. This will help everyone adjust a little easier to get into the routine.
Pump a few weeks before returning to work or school and store the milk in the freezer. Fresh refrigerated milk is better than frozen milk; have the caregiver use the fresh milk, before using the frozen milk if at all possible. Make sure to put dates on the stored milk to avoid confusion. For great pumping ideas and storage guidelines check out this website:
Are you Challenged with getting enough milk when you pump? Pump as often as often as your baby would normally eat to keep up a good milk supply. Pumping is a learned art; many women get little or no milk at first, so don’t give up quickly. This website has an excellent video clip that gives great tips for pumping. http://newborns.stanford.edu/Breastfeeding/MaxProduction.html
Many WIC offices have breastpumps at no cost for WIC participants going back to work or school. Check with your local WIC office for eligibility and pump policies. For contact information to local a WIC office, look on this website:
Choosing a pump can be a challenge. Often store bought breastpumps lead to sore nipples & pump milk slower. The better pump brands won’t hurt & will pump out more milk, faster.
For suggestions for pumps or lactation support contact:
Le Leche League http://www.llli.org/,
International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA): http://www.ilca.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1
Or contact your local WIC office for advice before purchasing a breastpump.
There is now new national protection for working mothers to support their breastfeeding through promoting pumping or breastfeeding in the workplace. Much is changing quickly, so check out this website for the latest information.