— Ruth Petersen, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity
August is breastfeeding month, with the first week bringing awareness to the importance of breastfeeding for child development worldwide. I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the choices around breastfeeding as well as all the other changes and adaptations working moms must make. The Today Show wrote a great article about mothers who have chosen to and chosen not to breastfeed.
Working mothers returning to the office after birth face some unique challenges. Office buildings are often out of date and do not include spaces designed for pumping. In addition to finding time to breastfeed, they must also work with child care hours, requiring a more flexible work schedule. Whatever your unique challenges, know that you are not alone.
Before returning to work, check out his helpful guide from Working Mother. They outline the need to plan ahead by building your milk supply, getting your baby used to feeding from the bottle, speaking with your employer about your needs, creating a pumping schedule, and taking care of yourself during the transition. If you are worried about the discussion with your employer know your rights, Section 7 (r) of the Fair Labor Standards Act outlines your legal right to reasonable break time to express milk for the first year following birth. To get baby used to the bottle you may need to get creative. Danielle Anthony is a Certified Doula in Knoxville Tennessee. She has said about working with her own child that “working alongside a speech pathologist to get my infant integrated from breast to breast and bottle has been extremely helpful. We “play” with the nipple of the bottle like a pacifier and sing and make fun noises while introducing it to him. We do this often, 3-4 times a day.”
Creating a schedule around your work day is important. Lactation Matters outlines some of the common questions around building the schedule. If returning to work 6 weeks post baby for an 8-hour work day you may need to plan to express 3 times. If you can, get specific with this plan on where you will pump. If you are in an office without a designated area it may take some creativity to create a comfortable space. HuffPost answers more questions around the schedule, suggesting it may be easiest to create once you notice the general patterns in your baby’s feeding. The HuffPost article also has tips on how to get the most out of these sessions. Depending on the pump you may be able to pump while baby is feeding. “The Haakaa can set on one breast and suction to it , collecting the milk that flows from let down while baby is nursing on the other breast. The silicone pump doesn’t feel as time consuming, and actually can feel effortless” says Anthony.
Maybe you are laughing reading about this “ideal schedule” because you work in a position that has much more irregular hours such as a teacher, healthcare position, or police officer. Medela recognizes your unique needs and stress the need for flexibility and communication.
Melissa Aldridge is a Finance and Operations Analyst who has personal experience returning to work while breastfeeding and gives the following tips:
As women have become 50% of the work force more and more offices have accommodated the dual income household. Co-working spaces, companies and universities have begun to offer on-site childcare. However, as great as these on-site child care resources can be, they can also be competitive and limited. That’s why more companies at the demand of their employees are providing flex jobs and work from home opportunities. With resources such as GoTo Meeting, Skype, Slack, Zoom Meeting, Scanner Apps, and mobile hot spots, we can work from anywhere.
If you are beginning to look at your childcare options be sure to check out this article from FairyGodBoss. They have some great links, and a variety of options to consider. A traditional day care may not be the right fit for you due to time, expense, or location.
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