Congratulations on making a great decision!
There are many decisions to make when you return to work. Whos going to care for your baby? Who will provide care for your baby when ill? How are you going to divide household chores? When will you return to work? Will you go back part-time or full? But the decision that will have lifelong implications is whether you will continue to breastfeed your baby.
FULLY BREASTFEEDING AND WORKING
Choosing to continue breastfeeding has many advantages for both you and your baby. Cessation of breastfeeding means that raising your child will cost you more in terms of artificial milk costs, illness related medical costs and lost workdays. Breastfed babies are protected from SIDS and other life threatening diseases. Breastfeeding protects you from breast and ovarian cancer. The longer you nurse the lower your risk factors. Consider that pumping 2-3 times a day (if working an 8 hour day) until your child is 7-9 months old is a small price to pay given the possible alternatives. Some other non-traditional options that support breastfeeding and working are:
FULLY BREASTFEEDING AND PARTIALLY WORKING
This option has some other advantages, like mom gets to spend more time with baby and baby is more likely to get milk directly from the breast. This is advantageous because breastmilk via your breasts better protects baby from disease. You may make up some of the costs of staying home by less child care expenses, less medical costs and sick leave usage. Workable part-time options include:
PARTIALLY BREASTFEEDING AND WORKING
Some women are unable or unwilling to pump at work. They have the option of nursing exclusively or in part while at home. Twice a day nursing a child under 6-7 months seems to maintain adequate milk supply. Any pumping that you can do at home can augment the artificial milk supplements. This is, of course, a better decision than complete cessation and would confer partial protection for both mom and baby.
PREPARATION AND PLANNING
First, how long will you take off work to be with your new baby? Some critical time periods in your child&Mac226;s development to consider are the first six weeks, the third month and after solids are introduced (usually at six months). Once you are off disability, consider delaying your return to work until after the 3rd month growth spurt, so your milk supply will be at its peak. If you can wait until about the 7th- 9th month, then most babies are well established on solid foods and you won&Mac226;t have to pump at work or supplement. Just nurse while at home. Another effective strategy would be work part-time until after the 3rd month growth spurt or until baby well established on solids (usually by the 7th- 9th month). If you are having difficulty with estimating your expenses, we have a worksheet available upon request.
If you work a 4 hour day, you probably won't need to pump at work. If you must work more than a four hour day then try to take one day off mid-week or every other day off, to help maintain your milk supply.
If you choose to switch nurse, you would nurse the baby at nighttime more often than during the day so that the baby does not need much breastmilk when you are at work. Mom then pumps while at home for any possible daytime feeding(s).
If working full-time plan to schedule frequent 3-day holidays and consider planning a week off around the 4-5th month to keep up your spirits and your supply.
Ideally baby is fully breastfed while at work using mom's pumped milk.
Next obtain a hospital grade dual pump for the quickest, most effective pumping. If this does not work for you other options are hand pumps and hand expression.
Before returning to work, practice expressing your milk and store up on extra milk at the same time.
Plan to pump 2-3 times a day at least initially. Some moms may be able to pump once a day and maintain supply especially if they are working part-time. Certainly once solids are introduced a single pumping is enough. If you feel your supply dropping: increase work time pumpings, rest at home in bed with your baby, nurse frequently and it should bounce back up within a few days.
Talk with your boss about the advantages of breastfeeding for them such as, not as much sick leave needed. The benefits can be referenced at the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action web site: http://www.waba.org.br/wbw97/english3.htm The title of this website is:" Women Work and Breastfeeding: Everyone Benefits!" (WABA Action Folder, 1993, No. 432b) helps educate employers as to what is desired globally. It also tells an employer how supporting breastfeeding can be good for business.
Furthermore as of 1/1/02 California law AB 1025 (Frommer) was passed necessitating that all employers provide women with break time to express as well as a place other than a toilet stall to do so. With this in mind discuss how your break periods may need to be split differently and where will you express and store your milk.
Other options include:
If at any time you decide to stop nursing and regret it- see the handout Restarting your Milk. This handout also has good suggestions for increasing your milk supply, if it decreases when you return to work. After an initial period of adjustment (around the third month) your breasts become more proficient at making milk.
"YOUR MILK SUPPLY IS ALWAYS WITHIN YOUR CONTROL. IF IT STARTS TO DECREASE, THEN INCREASE THE STIMULATION BY NURSING AND/OR PUMPING AND RESTING WITH YOUR BABY. YOUR SUPPLY SHOULD START TO INCREASE WITHIN A FEW DAYS."
Authored by Christine Betzold, MSN, NP, IBCLC. May be reproduced without further permission for instructional/educational purposes only. Revised 1/02.