Breastfeeding itself is challenging enough, and what more is breastfeeding when you have to return to work? Don’t get panic, mommies! Breastfeeding while returning to work is manageable, and with practice, it gets easier. Here we have six tips to help ease breastfeeding mothers transition from maternity leave to returning to the workplace.
- Invest in a good breast pump
A good breast pump helps maximise your breastmilk yield while cutting down on pumping time. For working mothers, it is best to get a good quality electric double pump or a wireless, wearable pump that can allow you to pump and work simultaneously. If you are using an electric double pump, get a good hands-free nursing bra.
- Prepare the right equipment before you start work. Here is what you need.
- Breastmilk storage bottles. Most of the breast pumps come in two bottles. It is good to purchase a few more of the same storage bottles so you do not have to transfer your breastmilk to another container after pumping. This will help save time and wastage.
- An insulated or cooler bag with an ice pack for breastmilk storage. If your workplace has a refrigerator, you can store your breastmilk in the refrigerator first then transfer your milk to the cooler bag when you want to travel back home.
- Duplicated pump parts. You can swap out the pump parts for each pumping session at work and then clean them thoroughly when you get home.
- Wet Cleaning Cotton to clean your nipples, hands and pump parts before and after every pumping session. Breastmilk feels sticky on the skin. With Wet Cleaning Cotton, you can clean your breasts and fingers conveniently on-the-go.
- Breast pads to absorb any leakage between pumping sessions.
- Nursing cover if your workplace does not have a private room for you to pump.
- Plan ahead
Creating a pumping schedule at work and breastfeeding at home can be really helpful. Plan your pumping sessions for when your baby would be feeding if you were at home to avoid breast engorgement. You can breastfeed your baby in the morning before you go to work, then pump every three to four hours (depending on your baby’s feeding gap). When you have established a pumping routine, you can plan your meetings and appointments more effectively.
- Introduce a bottle before you return to work
Your baby will need time to get used to bottle feeding. In case your baby refuses a bottle, you still have time to try with different teats and bottles to find the right one for your baby. Also, breastfeeding and bottle-feeding combo enables mothers to have a little nursing break while your baby still gets the best nutrition. While you can still breastfeed your baby when you are at home, your caregivers or your partner get to bond with the baby by bottle-feeding when you are at work.
- Practice breast pumping at home
It is ideal to practice expressing milk, storing it and feeding it to your baby in a bottle before you return to work. You will need to practice breast pumping to get the hang of it, and your baby will also need time to get used to the bottle too. About two or three weeks before returning to work, start trading one daily nursing session for a pumping session. Then, increase these substitute sessions as you get nearer to your back-to-work date.
- Dress to pump
Choose to wear the right apparels to work can help ease your pumping sessions. It is best to wear a two-piece outfit. Wear a top that allows you easy pumping access i.e. wrapped v-neck tops, button-downs and loose flowy tops. Remember to have nursing pads in case of leakage or letdown and nursing covers.
We hope mothers find this useful to prepare for your workplace breast pumping sessions.