You've been breastfeeding your baby for the past four months but the clock is ticking and before you know it, it'll be time to head back to the office. The question is – can you still continue to breastfeed once you return to work? Well, why not?
WORDS MELISSA ESPECKERMAN
There's nothing better than lying next to your baby and watching her peacefully drift off to sleep or holding her close as she cries, knowing that you're the one person who can calm her down. The four months of maternity leave will foster a bond that for many has proven to be unbreakable. And by breastfeeding, that bond only gets stronger.
But before you know it, the days would have turned into weeks and into months and it'll be time to get into your corporate gear and head back into the office. But before you do, decisions need to be made – who is going to look after your little one once you step into your high heels and into the role of the working mum, and if you're breastfeeding, you may even be wondering how you can continue to do so when you go back to work. With a little planning and a lot of determination, you can.
Imagine this – you're in your very own office with a little corner decorated complete with a cot for the little one. This will allow you to breastfeed your baby throughout the day without any interruption. As perfect as it sounds, it takes a lot of discipline on your part to ensure work gets done as well. However, if you're like most working mums, this isn't an option for you. So what's the next best thing?
If your office has an on-site daycare centre, count yourself lucky. As much as some parents would pay premium prices for one, the option just isn't available. With an on-site daycare and with the approval of your employer, you'll be able to go on nursing breaks throughout the workday or maybe just for a little cuddle.
If you're lucky enough to work near your home, you could consider heading back home for nursing breaks. But of course, do check with your employer beforehand. While it may be a tad inconvenient especially when you're in the middle of something important, those twenty minutes or so will also allow you to bond with your little one, making it all worth the while.
Working from home would be another option. Whether it's for half a day or on certain days of the week, it will certainly make the transition a whole lot easier.
While all the above options are pretty ideal, the truth is not many of us have those choices at hand. But that doesn't mean your bub won't be able to continue to enjoy the countless benefits of your breast milk when you return to work. By expressing your milk, she'll be able reap its benefits for as long as you can continue with it.
Before you head back into the office it's essential that you think about how you're going to express your milk at work. Speak to your boss about the logistics involved and whether it would be possible to get a room all to yourself when you need to express your milk. Also, locate a refrigerator that you can use for storing your milk. But if there isn't one in the office, don't fret. You can use an insulated container with reusable ice packs to store your milk.
Remember… preparation is the key. Build up your milk supply right from the very beginning. Sure it is easier said than done, but by allowing your baby to feed frequently and with lots of patience, you'll get it.
While nothing beats the feeling of holding her close, when it gets nearer for you to go back to work, it's best to express your milk and bottle feed her instead. This would help in getting her used to the bottle, while you get used to your breast pump. A handy trick would also be to adjust your feeding schedule. Try and plan your feeds so that you're able to breastfeed her directly as many times as possible.
To ensure, your baby has enough milk when you go back to work, stock up on your milk beforehand so that you'll have a ready supply of milk. After all, you wouldn't want to worry if she's having enough to drink while you're in the boardroom. By stocking up, you'll also be prepared should you have a temporary drop in milk production. But before you stock up, do make sure you have storage space in your refrigerator.
First things first – when it comes to expressing your milk the most essential thing you’ll need is a breast pump. Getting your hands on the right pump is crucial in allowing you to express your milk with ease. You’ll want to choose something that is efficient and easy to use. After all, you’re going to be expressing your milk a number of times a day.
To make things a little easier, you might want to think about your wardrobe. Wearing the right clothes will make it easier to express milk while you’re at work. Plus don’t forget to grab that cooler bag and ice packs on your way out. You’ll need them to store and transport your milk.
The trick to successfully expressing your milk at work is to be organised. So if you weren’t before, now’s the time to start. Begin preparing the night before by sterilising and packing all the equipment you will need. You don’t want to head out the door only to realise you’ve left your breast pump behind. You might also want to consider packing lunch if you’re planning to express during lunchtime. This will save you the hassle of getting something to eat amidst the lunch crowd.
Don’t forget to store your express milk in the refrigerator but if there isn’t one, a cooler bag with ice packs will do. Remember to get them into the refrigerator as soon as you’re home.
When it comes to expressing your breast milk, you’ll need a place to store it. The refrigerator, of course would be the most obvious choice. But if you’re not planning to use the milk within the next few days, be sure to freeze it in two to five ounce portions to minimise wastage. When storing your milk, remember to indicate the date on the container or milk storage bag. This will help in remembering which milk to use up first.
Refrigerator: Three days
Ice box compartment: Two weeks
Refrigerator/freezer combination: Two to three months
Deep freezer (-18°C): Six months
Once frozen, heating up your breast milk isn’t as easy as popping it in the microwave. But it isn’t that difficult either. Frozen milk should be thawed overnight in the refrigerator or run cool running water over it for a while. Once it begins to thaw, sit it in a bowl of warm water or continue running it in under the tap but turn the heat up just a tad. As you may probably discover, stored milk tends to separate, so just give the warm bottle of milk a shake before feeding.