Breastfeeding for Working Moms
Are you currently on maternity leave and planning to return to work? If so, you are probably concerned about how and where to breastfeed your baby while you're in the office. With these breastfeeding guidelines, you can achieve a happy work-life balance.
Are you currently on maternity leave and planning to return to work? If so, you are probably concerned about how and where to breastfeed your baby while in the office. You’re also concerned about your boss and whether he or she will allow you to take frequent breaks for pumping breast milk.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breastfeeding your baby for the initial six months is highly recommended. In fact, the WHO urges mothers to continue breastfeeding for up to two years. Many moms prefer to self-feed their babies for at least the first year. Most will rejoin the workforce around the six-month mark, which is where the worry about breastfeeding at work arises.
Not to worry, working full time and exclusively breastfeeding is possible. Our breastfeeding guide below will help put your mind at ease so that you can focus on matters the most: your baby.
Importance of Breastfeeding
If you're wondering whether or not to continue breastfeeding when you go back to work, consider these enormous breastfeeding benefits for you and your child. Did you know that breast milk contains the right nutrition to match your infant's needs and health requirements? For instance, right after you give birth, the fluid produced in the breasts is called colostrum. It helps build your baby's immunity.
Breastfeeding provides the following benefits:
For baby- Protects from common infections such as urinary tract infections, juvenile diabetes, childhood cancers, eczema, and gastrointestinal infections.
For mom- It reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer. Breastfeeding helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size. It also reduces the chances of developing osteoporosis.
Breastfeeding newborn also helps to enhance the mother and child bond. It is also the most accessible and convenient way to feed your baby. Continuous breastfeeding, even if it means you have to express milk using a breast pump, means
Challenges of Returning to Work While Breastfeeding and Solutions
Challenge #1: Dealing with your boss.
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (Affordable Care Act), a new mom is entitled to take breaks to express milk and at appropriate areas for pumping breastmilk. When you return to the office, it may feel awkward to speak to your boss about breastfeeding at work.
Solution: Learn about your rights.
Before returning to work, learn about your rights in the workplace as a new mom. The United States Department of Labor has defined these rights in the Fair Labor Standards Act. This will help you become a good advocate for yourself. Then get in touch with HR. They can assist you with having this conversation. It is their role to facilitate this discussion with your boss and must therefore be sensitive and knowledgeable about the matter. It is important to clearly state your expectations and rights before you return to work. This will help minimize hiccups in your transition back to the office. Should any co workers question you or your right as a breastfeeding mom, you can report them to HR at once.
Challenge 2: Learning the ABC’s of pumping and breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding can feel like a huge challenge for new moms. Many first-time-mothers run into difficulties with things like the right breastfeeding position for newborns, wearing nursing pads, getting the baby to latch on, etc. When you add a breast pump into the mix, it makes the entire experience very confusing and stressful.
Another important thing to remember while you prepare to express breast milk for your baby while at work, you will have to introduce bottle to your breastfed baby to make the transition easier.
Solution: Equip yourself with information.
The best person to speak to about this matter is another breastfeeding mom who has used a pump and returned to work after having a baby. She can provide you with valuable tips and even support you as you try to master the breastfeeding pump. What if you’re the first person in your friend circle to face this situation? Speak to your baby’s pediatrician or a nurse. Many hospitals and clinics have lactation and breastfeeding consultants who can guide you.
Joining a social media support group where you can connect with other breastfeeding moms is also very helpful. Not only will this create a sense of community, but you’ll also get to hear from moms who may be dealing with some of the same issues as you. Our KeaBabies Facebook group, The KeaCommunity, is one such platform where you can find help.
Challenge 3: Choosing the right equipment.
While perusing for breast pumps online, you’ll quickly realize there are hundreds of models out there. Some models claim to be covered by insurance plans. Keep in mind that a single pump model is not suitable for everyone. You have to evaluate your needs. For instance, do you prefer a hands-off or a hands-on model? Are you able to operate a one-button pump?
Solution: Conduct research.
First, find out whether your insurance provider provides coverage for any particular pump models. If so, check out those models. Next, determine your preferences. If it is possible, ask your lactation consultant to show you a breastfeeding pump.
Learn about the advantages of using an electric pump versus a manual pump or hand pump, or the benefits of getting both.
Apart from a breast pump, consider maternity products that facilitate feeding such as a breastfeeding bra, bottles (for later), hand sanitizer, etc.
Breast milk storage is also a vital factor to consider, while there might not be a mini fridge available at work for your expressed milk, you can bring a reliable cooler filled with ice packs to hold your breast milk stash. Also invest in proper breast milk storage bags and don't use just any plastic container.
Challenge 4: Child Care
When you go back to work, do you plan to place your little one in daycare? If so, is this facility within your work establishment or outside? Is there someone at home who can care for the baby while you’re at work? The type of care in which you place your baby will determine your breastfeeding and pumping schedule.
Solution: Speak to HR.
Talk to HR personnel about onsite child care facilities. If one is available, discuss your breastfeeding or pumping breaks ahead of time. If the child care facility is outside of work, inform HR and your boss about when you plan to take a break to pump milk or breastfeed. In case your baby is being looked after at home, you will need to pump your breastmilk ahead of time. Ensure the person who is caring for your baby is aware of the proper storage and handling of breast milk.
Challenge #5: Returning to an all-male team.
Even though working mothers are the fastest-growing niche in the country, several industries are still dominated by all-males. They may not be used to having a working mom as part of the team. In such a scenario, it may feel uncomfortable if you have to step out of the office or meeting to pump or breastfeed your baby.
Solution: Have an open discussion.
After returning to work, speak to your manager or HR personnel beforehand about your intent to hold a team meeting. It is not your job to inform them about breastfeeding, HR can help in case there are awkward scenarios. In these industries, it is highly unlikely that a lactation room is available for use, discuss with the HR about a safe place where you are comfortable and you may also request to time your lunch break depending on your pumping schedule.
Breastfeeding is a priceless experience for both infants and moms. With these breastfeeding guidelines, you can achieve a happy work-life balance.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Avery K.
When she isn’t looking after the many needs of her 2 kids, Avery enjoys taking walks in the park, enjoying nature, and getting her daily fix of caffeine.