Four Do’s and a Don’t
- DO know that you will miss your baby like crazy. This is a given. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you how wonderfully satisfying it will be to leave your baby and go to work. Moms often feel guilty too. So if there’s a way you can bargain for more time at home, and you can afford it, don’t be afraid to do it. If you can work less, do it.
And if you have to go back to work, know that breastfeeding will be a part of your reward – it will help you and your baby to continue the love affair that you’ve begun.Build some snuggle time into the reunion time of your day. Your child care provider may not mind if you sit down and connect by nursing as soon as you walk in! You won’t need to do it forever, and many moms (and their babies) find it’s a precious treasure to be able to do that.
- DO take a walkabout with HR, or someone who will care how you are doing when you are back at work. Figure out where you will pump. Look around the house or ask around – or shop smart! – for a small cooler. There are just too many “haha” moments when you keep your milk in the fridge at work. Why give people a chance to be smarmy or funny! And – where will you be pumping? Not many of us have our own offices….Here at BMH we’ve had moms from other parts of the hospital come pump in the Birthing Center…there are companies where you end up behind a screen somewhere, and I know some teachers who pumped in the women’s softball coach’s office (thank you Ruth Haskell!) and others who’ve pumped in the nurse’s office. But just as no one should have to eat in the bathroom – you should not pump there either. This is your baby’s food we are talking about.
There are guidelines for businesses who want to be breastfeeding-friendly. The State of Vermont has great info on their website – even if you are working in New Hampshire, the guidelines are useful (See more links below for info about good websites.)
You will come up with your own rhythm and ritual to help you relax. It will help your milk come faster! If you can, double pump. And – if you got a used pump from someone, and the suction doesn’t seem to be really great, ask how long the first mom used the pump. Pump in Styles are made to work well for about a year – the suction decreases after that.
How often to pump? Your baby will want to eat about as often as s/he does when you are around. Don’t leave six or eight ounce bottles for your baby – s/he is probably eating somewhere around 24 ounces a day. If baby eats 8 times in 24 hours – that’s about three ounces per feed. If you have a grazer, you might even leave two ounces bottles.
- DO try for a dry run – and try for a Thursday start date.
I don’t know about you – but I know exactly how many minutes it takes me from the time I pull out of my driveway to the time I pull into the parking lot. And I very seldom allow myself extra time, even when the weather is bad or I know I’m schlepping extra stuff.How’s that been going with the baby around? You know it takes more time – so give yourself the gift of a dry run before you go back to work. Take the baby to the sitter, or if you will have a sitter at home, have someone come watch the baby while you go to work. Figure out where you’re going to keep the pump (will you bring it back and forth to work?), where you will keep the cooler and the freezer packs, how long it takes to get all the extra stuff out the door with you. And don’t forget that last kiss for the baby!
Some moms try the baby out at childcare for an afternoon or morning, before they return to work. This is a great time to do a dry run – and then go get yourself a pedicure!
- DO plan for baby-wallowing weekends. No matter how you slice it, once you and your baby are enjoying breastfeeding, there’s no way a pump is going to get the same amount of milk your baby does. So know that you may feel like you are running on empty by the end of your work week – and know that it will get better when you are back to your baby.I’d also like to put in a pitch here for simplification. Figure out ways to keep your household running without it running you ragged! See the link information below about FlyLady – a great household system based on doing a little every day, and keeping your kitchen sink shiny. (Trust me – it’s worth a look.) And when friends or family ask what they can do to help – don’t be afraid to say, “Bring dinner.” Or “help me with laundry.” They wouldn’t be asking if they didn’t mean it!
- DON’T let all the craziness settle around the breastfeeding. Let it – and the love you have for each other and your baby – be the still calm center that makes the rest of it worth the trouble!
GREAT WEBSITES FOR MOMS WHO WORK AND BREASTFEED
- http://healthvermont.gov/wic/documents/Checklist.pdf (A checklist for employers, to help them figure out how they can support you best)
- http://healthvermont.gov/wic/food-feeding/breastfeeding/employers.aspx (Lists the benefits for employers of helping moms pump at work)
- http://www.clinicallactation.org/content/magic-number-and-long-term-milk-production (Nancy Mohrbacher, author of La Leche League’s Breastfeeding Answer Book, discusses how to keep your supply up for the long term)
- http://www.flylady.net/d/getting-started/ (A system to keep your home and your heart on track)