Your maternity leave might be coming to an end, but with all the benefits of breastfeeding your baby, you have no plans to stop nursing anytime soon. The change in schedule will definitely be an adjustment, but with a little know-how, any new mom can make it happen.
Learn how to balance going back to work while breastfeeding
Prep ahead of time
Pumping and bottle-feeding are easy once you get the hang of it, but getting there might take some practice. Start pumping at home three or four weeks after your baby is born, and get her used to bottle-feeding with a slow-flow bottle, like Medela Calma. The bottle will force your baby to use the same sucking motions she would while breastfeeding, so she won’t find bottle-feeding easier and start to prefer it over nursing. If you have any milk leftover, just stick it in the freezer, where it’ll last for up to 12 months.
Take it slow
Going from maternity leave to a full work schedule all at once can be daunting. If possible, ease into work by going back in the middle of the week, or start by taking a few half days. When you come home, nap with your baby—it’s a good way to bond while replenishing your energy stores at the same time.
Have the right tools
New moms pump at work all the time, and you can do it, too. But having the right arsenal of tools definitely makes it easier. Wear two-piece clothing that opens easily at the waist (think a loose blouse or button-down shirt instead of a dress or tunic) with a nursing bra underneath. Research breast pumps to pick the option that best fits your lifestyle, and stock up on Medela’s Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags and Quick-Clean Wipes to make clean-up a breeze.
Keep up your breast milk supply
Now that your routine has changed, you’ll have to work to ensure your breast milk supply stays steady. That means pumping frequently and consistently. Engorgement can signal your body to slow breast milk production, so try to squeeze in three 15-minute sessions during an 8-hour work day. When you arrive home, breastfeed your baby, since nighttime nursing has been shown to boost supply.
Store your breast milk safely
After pumping at work, remember to store your milk in the refrigerator. (It’s fine to add newly pumped milk to milk you’ve placed in the fridge earlier in the day, just make sure it’s cooled completely.) When you transport your milk home, keep the storage bags or containers in an insulated carrying bag with an ice pack.
With a little know-how, every new mom can make it happen.