Vicki Scott, the midwife and mum behind antenatal group New Baby Company, offers up her top tips on going back to work if you’re still breastfeeding
1. Plan ahead
Plan for your return to work well in advance if possible. You will need a private, suitable place to express while at work and somewhere to store your milk. Discuss these things with your employer. Under health and safety and employment law, they need to make reasonable allowances for breastfeeding and help enable you to return to work.
2. Childcare options
Consider your options for childcare. A workplace nursery may enable you to visit your baby for feeds. If work is close to home then could a caregiver bring baby to you for one or more feeds? If you are to be away from home all day then you may want to express enough milk for your baby to have until you return.
3. Express yourself
Establish an expressing routine a few weeks before going back to work. Get to know your pump, get used to expressing and how to store and reheat your milk. It can take a little time to become more efficient at pumping milk. It involves your hormones and being in the right frame of mind too! Your baby may also need time to accept a bottle if he has not had one before.
4. Freeze & store
Starting to express in advance means that you can build up a stock of milk in the freezer, which will give you more flexibility, and less worry that there won’t be enough milk for your baby when you can’t be there. Breastmilk can be stored for 3 months in a home freezer.
Many mothers continue to breastfeed their babies first thing in the morning, in the evening, at night and at the weekend. Expressing at your usual feed times while you are at work means your baby will be able to have that milk the next day. Having a small stock in the freezer will help make up any shortfall.
Being relaxed is key to successful expressing. It may take a few tries to relax enough at work – try some triggers such as a picture of your baby, an item of baby’s clothing, breathing/relaxation techniques or something like a favourite magazine or music. Today’s technologies mean that it’s possible to stay in touch with your baby even when you’re not there.
6. Make the most of weekends and days off
If you feel your milk supply is slowing down after your return to work, use any days off and weekends to feed your baby more frequently. This can help give your supply a boost for the days ahead.
7. Double pump
Using a double breast pump halves the time spent expressing. Double pumping can also produce richer milk for your baby. If you have a double pump, leaving this at work can make things easier too.
Returning to the workplace after having a baby will be very demanding until you are settled into a new routine. Be sure to take care of yourself by eating regular meals, staying well hydrated and getting as much rest as possible.