Breast milk offers everything that your child needs to grow for the first year of their life. It has amazing benefits; the vitamins, enzymes, fats and proteins are designed specifically for your child, created by your body.
After you birthed your baby, your body produces colostrum. It is jam packed with valuable compounds to protect your child. The benefits of breastfeeding are extensive. Listing them all is hard! Chances are you already know a majority of them because you did pick to breastfeed your baby.
Maternity leave comes to an end too soon, especially in the United States. If you are a working mother, you have to figure out how to provide your baby with nourishing breast milk while at work. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mother breastfeed their child up to a year. From that age, a mother and child can wean whenever they want. The World Heath Organization encourages mothers to provide breast milk to their children until two years old, at a minimum.
Their recommendations pose a serious challenge to parents. Many mothers want to stay home with their children but are unable to do so based on financial problems. Luckily, with the right planning and persistence, you can breastfeed your baby as a working mother.
Know Your Workplace Regulations and Laws
If you are fortunate, your workplace may already have a pumping area set up for mothers. Many companies understand that breastfeeding is important for children and mothers. Some workplaces even have daycares set up for their employees.
In 2010, the federal government passed the “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law that helped make it easier for mothers to pump and work. It requires employers to give break time and a private area for hourly paid workers to pump throughout the day.
However, not everyone is covered by the federal law. Don’t get upset. Many states have specific laws about this situation. It is important to research your state to determine your rights.
For example, twenty-eight states, the District of Columbia and Puerto have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace. Take the time to search and see if you are covered! If not, there is still ways to make sure you can provide your child with breast milk.
It is important for you to speak to your boss. The sooner you plan to do so is the best route! Your boss may be willing to make some changes and allow you to pump for your child. It is important to be clear about what you will need to make it work. A clean, private area where you can pump that isn’t a bathroom, is most important. You will need a minimum of three 15 or 20-minute breaks to pump. Also, a refrigerator is ideal to store the milk. If you work in your office, your boss may be okay with you locking the door for set periods of time.
If your boss seems apprehensive, share some of the amazing benefits of breastfeeding! He may not realize that breastfed babies are typically less sick than other children, requiring less time off.
Exploring Other Options with Baby
Yes, it sounds strange, but many companies are okay with parents taking their child to work with them! Typically, it works best for babies who aren’t mobile. However, if you have a separate office space, a mobile baby can be penned up with a play yard or exercauser.
Many owners of companies understand that parents are more productive when they aren’t concerned about their child. They are more likely to work efficiently. Having your baby nearby decreases the risk of postpartum depression.
There are some workplaces where a child shouldn’t go. If there is manual labor involved, you clearly wouldn’t want your child there. There are plenty of jobs that you would wear the child in a baby carrier. You could sort papers, assist customers and listen to meetings! This method would work for a few months and help to ensure your milk supply is secured.
You could also explore the option of working at home with your baby. It is becoming more common than ever before. You don’t have to do it every single day. Some bosses are okay with you taking work home for a day or two a week. It decreases daycare cost. There are a lot of jobs that can be done remotely. You have time when your child is napping to work, or you can stay up later to finish the jobs.
Purchasing the Best Breast Pump for You
Unless your baby is kept with you at work or an on-site daycare center, you are going to need a breast pump. You will use it to keep up your milk supply during the workday and to provide your child with breast milk for the following day. Whoever is taking care of your baby throughout the day will give your baby bottles of express milk.
There are a few types of breast pumps. Let’s take a look at what times you may want and what features to look for to make the decision easier!
- Manual Pumps: These breast pumps are hand operated and pump only one breast at a time. There is a flange and a manual lever that creates suction. If you want an inexpensive choice that is lightweight and small for an outing, I would suggest a manual pump. You will be able to get a good amount of milk. The main disadvantage of the manual pumps is that it is more time consuming and labor intensive. These aren’t suited for a working mother who needs to pump multiple times per day. They are best for a sporadic pumper.
- Electric Pumps: These breast pumps have attached a motor and run with an outlet or via a battery. You can even purchase a car adapter or rechargeable batteries. There are single and double versions. Single pumps only pump one breast at a time. Double electric pumps can pump both breasts, but they also can do one breast at a time. Electric pumps are more expensive, but they are worth it! Working mothers need more stimulation and electric pumps typically produce better results. A handy feature is a breast pumping bra that lets you pump hands-free. Working mothers can continue to do their job as they pump! It is a convenient product to purchase.
These are the two main types of breast pumps. The main decision you have to make is what time you should get. If you work full time and are going to need to pump more than once a day, I would highly encourage you to purchase an electric breast pump. They are more efficient and allow you to pump hands-free.
There is some great news for breastfeeding mamas! Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies are now required to support you by giving you breast pumps and lactation counseling! There is no copays or cost-sharing. Make sure to put a call into your insurance company! I was sent one about two weeks before the birth of my third child. However, some companies wait until the birth and require a prescription by your OBGYN. Either way, it is free for you!
Pumping While at Work
Once you have gone through the process of figuring out the regulations of pumping and selected a breast pump, it is time actually to start! Let’s take a look at what your day may look like on average!
- You start the day early and breastfeed your child before you start getting ready for work. Shower and have breakfast with your baby afterward.
- It is a good idea to have bags packed, bottles ready and lunches packed up the night before. Getting out the door with a child, especially a baby, is tricky. Don’t forget to take your breast pump!
- Plan to nurse the baby at the babysitter’s house or daycare before you head to work. Most babies will latch even if they aren’t starving. Your breasts will be empty, and your child is full!
- Before you create a pumping schedule, you need to think about how many times your baby would breastfeed, on average, during the period you are gone. If you work a typical eight hour day, your baby may breastfeed between three or four times. So long as you can manage it, plan to pump the higher amount of times needed. It is better off to have more milk than not enough!
- Make a scheduled based on these estimates! Go to your pumping area or lock your office door. Relax, look at a few pictures of your baby and pump. You may need to massage your breast to create a letdown. Pump for 15 to 20 minutes and head back to working. If you use a hands-free pump, you can pump and work!
- Ask your sitter to not feed your child an hour before you are set to arrive after work. When you arrive, your baby will be getting hungry and will be happy to breastfeed. It makes for a wonderful time Plus, your goal is to minimize the amount of pumping you need to do.
- Plan to breastfeed full time when you aren’t at work! To help maintain your milk supply, you need to breastfeed as much as possible when you aren’t working. The best thing is to nurse your baby if you are with him exclusively. Pumping isn’t as efficient; nursing is the best method to keep up the milk!
- You may notice that your baby wants to breastfeed more at night because you are gone. Some babies reverse their daily patterns, requiring less milk throughout the day and more at night. Even though it seems frustrating, it is a great thing for working mothers. Keeping your baby close at night allows them to breastfeed as much as they need without losing a lot of sleep.
Supplementing with Formula
Sometimes, mothers don’t respond to the breast pump as well as they would like. Some mothers aren’t able to make a big enough supply. Or, you may just not want to pump at work. Another option is to replace daytime feedings with formula gradually. When you are at home and throughout the night, you will breastfeed your child.
There are a few disadvantages of this method. If you don’t pump or breastfeed throughout the day, your milk supply will drop. Another thing to consider is the cost of formula. Breast milk is free, so it saves you a lot of money. Supplementing isn’t as expensive as solely using formula, but you may want to avoid it if possible.
Tips for Pumping Mothers
- If you notice your supply is low, there are a few tricks to try. Purple Gatorade (only purple) is known to boost supply. Eat a few bowls of oatmeal. Drink Mother’s Milk tea. Try Fenugreek. The best way to increase supply is to breastfeed or pump as much as possible. Remember, it is a supply and demand system!
- Breast milk can be kept at room temperature – between 61 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit – for 4 to 8 hours. The ideal time frame is 3 to 4 hours,
- Fresh, refrigerated milk can be stored for three to eight days.
- Thawed milk is only good for 24 hours, so make sure you only take out what you will need! It is best to store breast milk in one to four-ounce portions to avoid wasting.
- It is normal if one breast produces more than the other. Don’t worry!
Heading back to work is an emotional time for mothers. Most moms don’t want to be separated from their baby; it is maternal instinct. The first week is the worse; you both will be fine after you settle into a routine.
Before you do head back to work, remember to check the laws of your state and discuss with your boss where you can pump and how often you can take a break. Call your insurance company for an electric breast pump. Millions of mothers breastfeed as a working mother. There is no doubt that you can be successful as well!