5 Breastfeeding Tips for the Working Mom
I remember when my maternity leave was coming to an end. I had finally established a breastfeeding routine with my adorable milk monster and realized everything was about to change. It was then when I had a minor freak out.
The following questions lingered through my mind: How am I going to keep on breastfeeding while working? How do I prepare? Pump? How exactly do you even work that thing?
And the list went on.
Good news, I figured it out and was fortunate to breastfeed two years while working.
Now your goal may be shorter or longer. You might even be undecided about breastfeeding and work, but regardless of your situation, here are five tips for the breastfeeding working mom that could help you plan your next move.
1. Hash out a plan with your employer
I know, it might be difficult for you to talk about your milk makers with your boss, but it has to happen. I was lucky that my employer was a sweet woman who breastfed in the past.
Even though I taught in a private school that was not protected by the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law, I was offered a room - other than a restroom - to pump, and sufficient breaks to do so throughout the day.
Although I was fortunate, this is not always the case.
Some of you might need to remind your boss, or inform him or her that there is a law for workplaces with 50 employees or more that requires providing a space, separate from a restroom, and reasonable breaks for nursing mothers to pump.
If you are not covered by this law, be forthcoming with your employer and work out a plan that can hopefully accommodate you both.
I had to do this and found presenting my request in writing worked the best for me.
I explained my situation, proposed times during the day that I could pump, and also expressed how important breastfeeding was for my child and me.
I ended by saying that I hoped we could work together to find a solution, and we did.
2. Start pumping before returning to work and build a milk stash
After I received my pump in the mail (my insurance paid for it), I was terrified. There were so many crazy looking parts and cords, and the directions were even confusing.
I ended up turning to YouTube and got the visual I needed. Here’s an informative video here. I applaud the pumping actress!
Once I figured out how to use the thing, I started pumping. This was when my son was four weeks old because I was encouraged by my midwife to wait 4-6 weeks to establish the breastfeeding relationship.
I took a seven-week maternity leave, so I began pumping three weeks in advance. I know, it’s a lot of numbers, and I apologize if you need a calculator. Sometimes breastfeeding while working requires some basic math.
At first, I only pumped an ounce or two a day; after all, I was also nursing a milk vampire, so a pumped ounce here and there was normal.
And since I was still nursing at home, this pumped milk was all extra.
I slowly built up a freezer stash of white gold. And I didn’t know it at the time, but my stash would help out a lot during the early months of daycare.
Don’t stress, but stash what milk you can before returning to work.
3. Introduce your baby to a bottle
Unless you are lucky enough to nurse your baby at work (I was a middle school teacher, so that wasn’t an option) or you can take breaks during your workday to nurse your baby, you most-likely need to introduce your babes to a bottle.
My husband and I did this at four weeks too. The good news: daddy’s involved, and if all goes well, you might finally get to the grocery store— alone.
Although I continued to nurse the majority of the time, daddy gave a bottle here and there.
I wanted to make sure our son knew how to feed from a bottle BEFORE attending daycare.
And the bottle did not sway my son away from the boob at all. At the end of my workday and throughout the night, my kiddo still latched on like a stingray.
4. Get your supplies in order
I learned that you need a lot of supplies when you breastfeed and work.
This is why I went out and bought a stylish bag to conceal my pump, storage bags, and dish detergent (for cleaning the parts).
I walked with that bag all over the school, and most of my middle schoolers just thought I was carrying a rather large purse.
I also had an extra shirt on hand because there were a few moments when I forgot to pump, or waited too long, or heard a baby cry - then leaked in spite of wearing nursing pads (also an essential).
Luckily, I always had an extra shirt, so my students during the fifth period weren’t wondering where the two wet circles on my blouse came from.
5. Give yourself some slack
Let’s be real. We mothers are hard on ourselves.
We feel guilty for outcomes beyond our control. We get frustrated when we don’t get everything done. We blame ourselves when things don’t go as planned.
Breastfeeding and working will not always be easy, so you need to give yourself some slack.
You might miss a pumping session and feel more engorged than a blimp; you might be overtired and snap at a coworker; you might feel like you drink too much coffee and overeat office party cake. You might, you might, you might…
You know how it is, the list goes on.
But if working while breastfeeding remains important to you, you are dedicated, and you try your best to make it work (pun intended), then slap yourself on the back - not in the face - because you are strong. You are determined. And you can do this!