Heading back to work or school and still breastfeeding? With a little bit of planning, you can do this! Find some tips and suggestions below from Greater Ozarks Regional Breastfeeding Coalition so that you can continue to have a successful breastfeeding experience.
- Talk with your school advisor or your employer about pumping or nursing on site. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires all employers to allow you to use unpaid break time for expressing your milk in a private, non-bathroom area.Be thinking about where you will pump: a small closet, rarely used office, or locker room will work. Be creative! If you don’t have a fridge available at work or school, bring a cooler with ice packs to keep your milk fresh.
- You will need a good breast pump to remove milk effectively. There are a number of pumps on the market. Talk to a breastfeeding professional about which one is best for you and your schedule. Some double electrics save a lot of time! Check with your insurance to see if pumps are included in your policy.
- Be ready! Start pumping 1–2 weeks before returning to work or school. Pump both breasts at the same time or pump one side while your baby nurses from the other.When your baby is about a month old (or at least 2 weeks before returning to work or school) get your baby used to taking a bottle by letting someone else offer a bottle of your milk.
- You’ll also want at least one practice run of leaving your baby with a caregiver for a few hours.
- How much milk do you need to leave with your childcare provider?
2 – 4 ounces/bottle for a 6 week old
4 – 6 ounces/bottle for a 3 month old
5 – 8 ounces/bottle for a 6 month old
- Help your child care provider understand breastfeeding. Remind them it is normal for breastmilk to separate with fat rising to the top, and caution to never warm breast milk in the microwave; instead, warm milk with hot water.Also, nurse your baby just before leaving for school or work, and check to see if there is a place to nurse when you arrive to pick your baby up.While you’re away from baby, be sure to pump as often as you would nurse your baby. With a double pump most moms can finish pumping in about 10 – 15 minutes.
- To help you pump away from baby, bring your baby’s picture and an article of clothing (sight and smell triggers for milk let-down). While pumping, listen to music or play on your phone, but don’t do work. You need this time to take a break and relax. Stress and frustration can slow your milk production.
- If you are concerned about your milk supply, double-check your pump to make sure it’s working properly. Consider taking an afternoon or day off for a “breast milk vacation” to be with baby and boost supply. If you still feel your production is down, contact a local Lactation Consultant for advice on increasing milk production.
Visit the Greater Ozarks Regional Breastfeeding Coalition at health.springfieldmo.gov
Kelly Evans, IBCLC and Senior Peer Counselor at Springfield-Greene County Health Department WIC
Becky Cave, RN, MSN, IBCLC, and Lactation Consultant in the Mercy Springfield NICU