Thursday 14 June 2012

Can I Work Full Time & Breastfeed?

The short answer to this question is YES!

I went back to work full time when my first was only just over three months old.  He was exclusively breastfed and stopped a month before his fourth birthday.  I will admit that I did work with very supportive colleagues in a very supportive environment, but I'd love to share with you some tips about how I managed to work and breastfeed for almost 3 years (then we moved to the UK and I left my job).

  1. Chidcare - I chose a daycare centre close to my office.  This enabled me to feed at drop-off, pick-up and during my lunch break.  I then only needed to pump a few times at work and I think my supply was the better for it.  I talked to the care providers before William started to make sure that they would be comfortable handling breastmilk and understood that William would probably take less than formula fed classmates and would need to be held while he was fed.  We also communicated regularly so that William was not fed immediately before I arrived to feed.
  2. Maintain your Milk Supply - Pumping is not as efficient as breastfeeding and it can also be hard for the body to react to the pump in the same way that it would to the baby.  To maintain my supply I made sure that I pumped at least the same number of times that William received a bottle at daycare.  Missing a pumping session meant that my body would think I didn't need that milk, so I made a real effort to pump every day the appropriate number of times.  If I did miss a pumping session I always encouraged William to nurse more often that evening to make sure I stimulated my milk supply enough.
  3. Find a Place to Pump - The majority of the time I would pump in my office, and it was so quiet on my floor that I never needed to close the door.  I usually pumped one breast at a time (dependent on your time and breasts), which meant that I could catch up on emails and answer the phone at the same time.  It's usually good to relax when pumping to help the flow, but for me I needed to keep busy or I would just stare at the bottle and watch the drops fall which would drive anyone crazy.  When out of the office I would find a quiet place to pump.  I would choose a loose fitting top and just pull it up to hold the flange to my breast.  I pumped in the car, at the back of meeting rooms, in a quiet area with a comfy chair.
  4. Take each day as it comes and decide how important providing breastmilk for your baby when you are at work is to you.  Working and pumping can be hard, and there will be many times that you feel you may be missing out on something or feel that you are not putting your all into the job.  Remember that this will not be forever, and that the benefits are for your baby, yourself and your employer.  Your baby will be sick less often meaning that you will not have to take as much time off.  It's totally worth it!
  5. Communicate with your childcare providers, your family and your employer.  If you are not happy about something don't bottle it up or assume that nothing can be done about it.  If you are finding that you need extra time to pump, you'll never be given more time if you don't ask.  If I had a moto it would be "If you don't ask for it you'll never get it".  If you are finding that the baby takes more in the bottle at daycare than you are pumping, talk to them about how they are feeding baby and suggest pauses and paced bottle feeding (google it).
 Congratulations o the birth of your baby and good luck when you return to work.  Be warned that you will cry that first day when you drop him/her off at the carers house even if it is your Mum.

If you have enjoyed this post and would like to read more about breastfeeding and take part in the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt here are some other bloggers who are taking part throughout the month of June.  Many fabulous companies have provided some amazing prizes for the Grand Prize.  One such company is Mama Jewels who sell gorgeous jewellery that your children won't break so take a look at their website and read, learn and win lots of breastfeeding goodies.

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  1. Not everyone can pump enough to do this though, regardless of the fact that they have a full supply for direct feeding.

  2. Thankyou for this post, I will be returning to work when my baby is 9 months old and have worried alot about this. I try pumping after she's gone to bed at night to try and keep my milk supply up but I can never get more than 2oz.

    1. Make sure you pump every night at around the same time to make your body think you need the extra feed. At first you will only pump leftovers but it should get easier. Make sure to relax nd maybe do a power hour (pump during every commercial during an hour long show).

  3. I am returning to work in 3 weeks (boo) when my little man will be 11 months old. Am hoping to feed before I set off and as soon as I get home and then the usual night feeds - he will not take ebm and I don't want to use formula. I have a great supply but he will not drink the milk.

  4. This is the bit that terrifys me even after doing it once already. My daughter wasn't particularly keen on bottles and I hope that this time around we'll be able to find a way to make the transition easier. I did find that it was mainly down to the fact that bottle teats just have one hole in them and my breast leaked through many holes so I took a pin to our teats and that seemed to suit her better but a bit of an amateur solution. I am so surprised that amulti million pound industry like the baby industry doesn't have a better solution out there! Well there certainly wasn't one that I found 3 years ago and I've yet to see one now. Willing to be pleasantly surprised though...

  5. I am back at full time work but have to admit that I am combining breast feeding and formula as I haven't been able to maintain my supply as well as I would have liked. I admire your dedication though!

    My top tip is for a first time breast feeder, make sure you research how to breastfeed before baby arrives as it is not always as easy as you think!

  6. My top tip would be to find your local support/peer supporters/breastfeeding group before baby is born so you can get to know them, this makes it much easier to contact them after baby is born; faces to names and voices. Its good to know you have support from people who you know and are familiar with and that you trust.

    They will be able to help you with the transition back to work, support you emotionally and generally cheer you on :)

  7. You are an inspiration! Great post.

  8. I am so glad I was made redundant whilst on maternity leave first time round and we decided, it wasn't worth looking for another job as by the time Spud was 1, I was pregnant with Pooh Bear and childcare costs wouldn't make my wages worth having. I'm not sure I'd have had the stamina to pump at work. I like the convenience of not having to bother with pumps and bottles.

    My top tip would be - Don't be afraid to ask for help. There are no silly questions when it comes to breastfeeding or babies in general. Don't suffer in silence and seek help the minute you need it :)

  9. I'm going back to work when my daughter is a year old. I'm not sure how nursery will feel about giving her expressed milk, but I think she'll be ok just feeding when we are together.
    I suspect we'll be cosleeping a lot for night feeds.
    Did your son reverse cycle? Or did he take enough expressed milk during the day?

  10. My top tip would be get the right pump, second time around and a different pump and I have been getting a lot more out! You are right being relaxed whilst pumping definitely helps and I also find if I pump whilst my son is feeding first thing when I am really full it stimulates my supply really well so I would recommend this too!

  11. Great post thankyou realy usefull and great advice. unfortunately my little girl never took a bottle so it was lucky in the end that i decided not to return to work.
    My top tip would be to set yourself up somewere comfy with everything you are likely to need to hand especialy muslin, drink and a snack that way you can just relax and enjoy your time together :)

  12. I'm 37 weeks pregnant so don't have any tips yet. All my questions and concerns have been adressed by spending the afternoon/evening reading fantastic breastfeeding week blog posts. thanks!