Time with your baby is ticking away. Soon, you must prepare to go back to work and figure out how this breastfeeding while working thing works. You need to review childcare options, pump some milk for the freezer and get your pumping schedule in order, not to mention all the gear and extra changes of clothes to pack up. You imagine you’ll leak all over everything and everyone. No one said having a kid would be easy, but no one said you’d have to rein in renegade tatas before an early office meeting, either. Here’s how working moms can making breastfeeding work.
Preparation Is Essential
As you prepared for the job interview for landing this position, you’ll need to make preparations before heading back to work at least a month in advance.
- Four weeks until return: Who will be your childcare provider? Will you rotate between grandparents on both sides, use a nanny or have a daycare in mind? The right fit doesn’t happen quickly, so be patient. You’ll find it.
- Three weeks until return: Work on building the milk supply up because it will take time to produce the extra amount. Start early, so your body gets into the flow of things. By the time you return to work, your milk supply will be on the up and up.
- Two weeks until return: It’s getting real! Spend extra time with your baby, and get them comfortable with using a bottle just in case. If you’re at work, you need your baby to feed without you.
- One week until return: If you haven’t already, do a few trial runs to get your routine in order. Is the baby adjusting well? Do they take the bottle and seem comfortable with your childcare choice? Even if it’s too early to tell, how does your gut feel? Can you make it on time to work?
Talk to the Boss and Make a Plan
Talk to your boss in advance about your return. Will you slowly increase your hours again, or are you coming back full-time from day one? Make a pumping plan of action so you’ll be in line with corporate policy and have your timing mostly down — your coworkers will know what’s up when you go MIA. Besides, if some busybody gets huffy about your bursting bosom, you know where to send them. Here’s how to address people to let them know about your need to pump:
- Words for your boss: “Besides regular beak time, I need time for pumping. I need to do this every three hours, but here’s my plan to stay on top of tasks…”
- Words for the receptionist or housekeeping: “Is there a private and empty room available for pumping? I’m a new mom.”
- Words for coworkers: “Let me take my pumping break, and I’ll meet you shortly in the conference room.”
Check in with Human Resources about their pumping policies since some laws mandate a private area for moms to pump. HR is in charge of implementing that knowledge.
Find Pump-Friendly Clothes
Your breasts will grow and shrink throughout the work day as your milk production varies along with retention. Tops with additional coverage will feel better than low cut tops. Button-down tops, nursing tanks and wrap dresses and shirts will easily free the tatas for pumping while keeping up a professional appearance.
Choose a Better Bra
Working mama, why are you wearing that ill-fitting bra? It messes with your milk supply and increases]p your back pain. Choose a better bra. Look online or visit a maternity store. Search for bras with breathable and comfy material. Added coverage gives you better support, and bras with zippers make it easier to pump without battling hooks. Remember, your bra size increased because of pregnancy and will go down after breastfeeding. Prepare for adjustment. Look for hands-free bras for stress-free pumping.
Get Ready for Leaks
Make a leak kit to clean up impromptu squirts — they happen. To avoid leaks in the first place, have a few items handy. Wear prints to disguise leaks, and choose nursing bras with extra in-case padding. A towel on your lap while pumping prevents spillage. Pack a clean shirt for when leaks happen. Use nipple cream to calm those sore tatas. Angry nipples attack.
Rotate Your Supply
Next-day rotation keeps up your supply — Monday’s pumped milk gets used Tuesday, while Tuesday’s pumped milk is used on Wednesday, and so on. Freeze extra milk. Pump amounts vary according to hydration and stress levels but keeping up a routine assists with maintaining your supply.
Snack Healthy and Stay Hydrated
It’s going to be hard to readjust between settling back into work and keeping up your pumping schedule, so plan to snack healthily throughout the day. For example, get your protein from hard-boiled eggs, which also pack and travel easily, and cottage cheese with fruit gives you hydration, nutrients and calcium. Put a note that says “drink water” on your computer. Small meals and reminders are less difficult to manage.
Don’t Be an Angsty, Bored Pumper
Check yourself back into being calm and centered before you end up trying to coach your breasts into action with slightly threatening baby talk on a low supply day — “Come on, tatas! You can do it. You can do it — or ELSE!” Don’t be a bored pumper, either. Even though it feels like it, pumping isn’t another chore to complete. Checking social media or emails or watching a hilarious video of a cat riding a goat into battle isn’t a bad reflection of you as a mom or your professional self. Your breasts run on their own clock. Wait those suckers out. Make it a game.
It will be hard to leave your adorable tiny human for hours, but you both will get into the swing of the work-baby balance. You will conquer breastfeeding at work with preparation and the right clothes, bras and gear. On low supply days, don’t get frustrated or bored with your breasts. They’ve been through enough. Soothe them with some nip cream, and stick to a pattern. It’ll come with patience and time. Working mama, don’t fret — your breasts will nip this next challenge in the bud.