What’s the best advice for any working mom who is breastfeeding? Eat, sleep and don’t stress! Here are 10 tips on how to make this happen:
1. Invest in a good pump.
If you have a good pump, you will be able to get the most milk possible. Start pumping at a regular time, on a daily basis as soon as your baby is an efficient breast feeder, but not before they are two weeks old, and start to build a supply to keep in the freezer. Frozen milk will keep for three months in a regular freezer and up to six months in a chest freezer. This is because the chest freezer generally isn’t open as frequently.
2. Introduce a bottle to your baby when your baby turns two weeks old.
Once a day is sufficient, and it won’t cause nipple confusion, but what it will do is get your baby used to a bottle, so that when you go back to work you don’t have any concerns about your baby refusing a bottle. This can and should be breast milk, and it can also be a time for your husband/partner to feed the baby, giving them a time to build their bonding together.
3. Establish a good routine for your baby.
That way, when you return to work you are able to breastfeed in the morning before you leave for work and you are able to breastfeed again on your return. This may not be until bedtime, or it maybe earlier. Or, maybe you are fortunate enough to live close by so you can pop home for a lunchtime feeding. Just remember, you are doing your best, so whenever you can breastfeed your baby will be happy. This may take a little strategic planning on your part. You will have to think of a couple of things. What time do you need to be up and ready for work, and how long does the feeding take? If, for example, you have to be at work by 9 am and it takes you 20 minutes to get there you have to be out the door by 8.40 at the latest. So work backwards, is it easier to get up at feed your baby at 7 am, then get ready? Some moms like to breastfeed right before they leave, so maybe you want to get ready first. Two factors will come into play here: what time your baby gets up in the morning, and what time you need to leave. On your return from work, make sure you can breastfeed when you get home. This is a nice welcome home mommy routine. Depending on where or who your baby is with, you can call when you are leaving to make sure your baby is ready to eat when you arrive!
4. Sleep is a crucial factor in your milk supply.
The less sleep you get the greater the effect it can have on your milk, especially when you go back to work. So maximize your sleep time in anyway you can while you are breastfeeding. If both you and your husband/partner are working, then try to alternate the nights you get up to feed your baby, if your baby is still waking when you return to work. If you can close your eyes when you are pumping and just relax, that may help a little also. If you work all week, try to have calmer relaxing weekends, rather than planning lots of activities. There will be plenty of time of activities as your baby grows.
5. Eating is also a vital component to keeping a good milk supply.
Make sure your morning routine of getting ready for work and breastfeeding includes a little time to eat. When you are at work, make sure you always have snacks on hand, and if you have to pump during your lunch hour, make sure you have food to eat while doing so. So either get your food first, or bring it with you. It’s all about maximizing your time. Now, just above I mentioned relaxing while breastfeeding; obviously, it’s going to be hard to eat with your eyes closed, so eat first.
6. Have everything ready the night before.
Have all the bottles of milk for the next ready in the refrigerator, prepare your lunch, have your outfit chosen and ready and maybe an extra outfit on had, just incase of leaks, be sure your breast pump is clean and ready. Make sure you have storage for your milk. Your milk has to be kept cold. Is there somewhere to keep it at work or do you need to take a cold pack with you? If you are taking your baby to daycare make sure his bag is packed and ready.
7. Don’t wake at early hours to exercise.
Although this can be productive for weight loss, it isn’t productive for your milk supply. You will miss out on vital sleep. If you are concerned about your weight, find a better time where it won’t affect the time you sleep. Or even better, chose healthy foods that will help with weight loss, so you don’t have to take time away from sleep or your baby. You can start to exercise again once you have stopped breastfeeding. This is such a personal choice, you have to consider what is more important to you. Remember the choice is yours, no one is here to judge.
8. Make sure your husband/partner is happy to share some of the chores.
Going back to work and continuing breastfeeding is a family decision, so you all need to share the childcare and the chores. If you have an older child, you can encourage them to help also, this sets up a good model of what life will be like for them as working parents. Discuss these responsibilities with your partner and with older children in a family meeting before you have your baby, so everyone knows what to expect.
9. Stress and fatigue are your biggest enemies, so try to relax.
To get in the mood during pumping breaks, some moms like to have a picture of their baby handy, an article of baby clothing, or have a little recording of your baby on your phone or iPad. And remember we all have different lives and circumstances; just do the best you can. No matter how stressful your job can get, just take it all in your stride. Remember at the end of every day you will be back at home with your baby, many, many moms have to go back to work so you are not alone.
10. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Most importantly, if you have tried to do everything right and you just can’t maintain the milk supply you need to solely breastfeed your baby, don’t let it get you down. Sometimes you just need to supplement and there is nothing wrong with that. Just know that you have done the best you can and your baby will love you whether you have had to supplement or not. Most of our generation was formula fed and I don’t think our IQ’s have suffered too badly because of it.