I know from personal experience how hard it is returning to work after being with your baby 24/7. It’s especially harder when you’re exclusively breastfeeding (EBF). You will miss your baby. You may worry if he/she is being well taken care of. You may even worry that he/she has enough milk to sustain them while you’re away. However, creating a strategy ahead of time to prepare you for your return to work helps. I’m sharing some tips to help you with your beautiful breastfeeding journey to make returning to work a little less stressful.
Related: Breastfeeding Tips: Know the Basics of Pumping Breast Milk
Build Your Breastmilk Stash
Start building your stash before you go back to work. With my first daughter, I made sure she had enough milk frozen for use for when we were apart. You should start working on your stash once your milk production is established, but no sooner than one month after you first began to breastfeed.
If you have an oversupply as I did, you may want to invest in a deep freezer.
Know Your [Breastfeeding] Rights
These days there is no excuse for a company to deny you time, and a safe and clean space to pump your breastmilk during your working hours. If your employer does not support you, know that the law does. There are Federal and State Laws that protect nursing moms.
Communicate Your Breastpumping Needs with Your Boss
Communicate with your boss and/or direct report. Inform them of your pumping schedule so that there are no conflicts. In order to maintain your milk supply, it is important for your pumping schedule to mimic your natural breastfeeding schedule.
Make Sure You Have the Right Equipment
The pump you are using can make a difference. With my oldest daughter, I used the Medela Pump In Style Advanced. This time around I will use the Spectra S2 and Freemie. Both I received via my insurance.
Related: Top 5 Things to Add to Your Baby Registry
I’ve heard great things about Spectra breast pumps, and while I was out with friends while pregnant, a bartender who was wearing the Freemie suggested I get it since it is hands-free and discreet. I figured I could use it during the times I’m in the car or for moments when I can’t get away from my desk.
Make Your Breast Pumping Session Enjoyable
When you’re missing your baby your pumping session may not always be fruitful. You’ll sometimes pump out less milk. To help increase milk flow during the times you’re pumping and wishing you were with your baby instead, have a few of your favorite photos with you of your baby. Flipping through videos and pictures of your baby does the trick and helps you remember why you are doing this! Listening to your favorite music and watching videos of the baby will relax you, make you smile, and trigger the letdown.
Eat Well and Keep Hydrated
Breastfeeding does two things for me: increases my hunger and makes me thirsty. I’ve found it necessary to make sure I always have a healthy snack and something to drink like water, coconut water or my favorite electrolyte packets to add to my water if I’m craving a drink with flavor.
Related: Staying Hydrated is Key to Increasing Breast Milk Supply
If you notice a drop in your milk supply take a look at what you’re eating and drinking. Make sure you’re eating and drinking enough to keep up with what’s being taken out. Ensure your foods and beverages don’t have ingredients that will decrease milk supply. Try foods like steel-cut oats to help increase supply before moving onto a herbal supplement. Even when you are taking care of all the basics you still might see your supply dropping because of stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. Supplements are a huge help to ensure you are pumping what your baby needs.
You GOT this!
Remember mama, you are awesome! You are doing a great thing for your baby. Some days are harder than others, but in the end, it is all worth it. Know your limits and do not put too much pressure on yourself.