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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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).
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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