Mothers are entering or continuing in the workforce more than ever and, sooner than ever after childbirth. Can you breastfeed and work? YES, and pumping is a valuable part of this balance. There are three things that can help to insure a positive breastfeeding and working relationship.
The Right Pump
The right pump is: double, electric, and NOT your friend’s pump she only used twice! If you are working more than one or two days a week, I would suggest using a double electric pump. A double pump is more efficient and effective, as well as easy to use. One caveat: Do not borrow your cousin’s pump or buy one on ebay!! You can buy a new pump (shower gift?), ask for one from your insurance company, or, if you are a WIC client, ask for a rental from your local office (*I can help with the last two options – email me). Think about where you will be pumping, as some pumps come with a car charger and/or battery pack.
The Right Plan
The right plan: I recommend starting to pump and store milk at least two weeks before you return to work. Try pumping in the morning, when milk supply is usually high, and start accumulating a reserve in theefrigerator or freezer*. Look at your work schedule and map out a preliminary schedule, with break times for pumping (see an example below). If possible, return to work on a Thursday or Friday. This enables you to see how things go while having a few days to tweak your plan before starting a full work week.
Sample BF/Work Plan
6 am Nurse and pump (bf one side, pump one side, or nurse both, then pump after)
8am Nurse at home (or daycare)
10am Pump during work break
1pm Pump at lunch break
4pm Pump during work break
6pm Nurse at home
9pm Nurse at bedtime
Late Night nursing
The Right Support
The right support: Try to get supports in place ahead of time. Ask your boss about break times, places to pump, and flexibility in your hours. Ideally, you will have a private space (not a bathroom) to pump and access to a refrigerator or cooler for storage (don’t forget to label!). Talk to your child care providers (have a back-up!) and make sure they understand how to store and use expressed breast milk. Finally, know your rights. Recent legislation requires companies of 50 employees or more to provide breaks and a place to pump for nursing moms. See the full provision here.
You can do this! Babies who are breastfed are healthier and that means fewer missed work days for you, as well as continued health and happiness for both you and your baby.
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