Today I will share some tips with the new parent going back to work that wants to continue feeding their baby with human milk. Many parents have anxiety over their milk supply when they first go back to work and aren't sure how to establish a good supply.
Tip #1 Seek out a childcare program or caregiver for your baby that is close to your workplace if at all possible. If you start a little earlier in the morning you can get another feeding session in before you go to work for the day. On lunch breaks, you may be able to go over to the childcare center where you would essentially eat and feed your baby simultaneously. Before you head home another direct breast/ chestfeeding session can occur. Or if your child is cared for by a friend or family member see if they can bring your baby to you during your lunch break/ scheduled breaks.
Tip #2 Breastfeed your baby exclusively on your days off. This will help you maintain an adequate supply. If you are missing nursing and connecting with your baby during the week, this is a great time to re-connect. Your baby will be able to maintain that supply-demand. Remember your baby is the most efficient pump to remove milk from your breasts/chest. The more milk you move ( meaning empty from your breasts) the more milk you'll make. Exclusively breast/chestfeeding on your days off can also benefit the parent that feels "pump fatigue".
Tip #3 Breastfeed your baby overnight, instead of bottle feeding the baby with expressed or pumped milk. Continue to feed your baby at the breast in the evening and nighttime or whenever you are home with your baby. If this is feasible. If you are exhausted. Have your partner ( if you have one) bottle feed the baby expressed milk overnight every other night. You can also ask your partner to do every other feeding so you get longer stretches of sleep.
Tip #4 Pump after breastfeeding, this will help increase your milk supply overall. You can bank that milk for when you'll be separated from your baby due to work.
Tip #5 Set up your pumping environment, a quiet private location if possible when you are at work. Bring a blanket that smells like your baby and look at their photo during pump sessions, this will help you have a letdown. You can also massage your breasts before pumping. Massaging while pumping can be helpful as well. If you get particularly anxious with pumping be sure to tap into things that make you feel more relaxed, calm music, a mantra, etc.
Tip # 6 Know what medications and herbs negatively impact your milk supply. Birth control and decongestants can lower your supply. Hold off using these if possible when first getting back to work and establishing your supply. Use barrier methods of birth control and leave the decongestants at the pharmacy. Talk to your doctor about alternative options that wouldn't negatively impact your supply. Herbs that can negatively impact your supply are sage, peppermint, and parsley so be cautioned with their use.
Tip # 7 Talk about alternative work arrangements, for example, trying to work from home on certain days of the week if possible. In a semi post-pandemic ( almost there) world this is becoming increasingly attainable.
Tip #8 Know your rights! Breast/ chestfeeding parents have the right to breastfeed and supply their babies with human milk. If you are feeling pressured by your boss or staff be sure to bring this up promptly. Pumping is not equivalent to breaks. Here is a great resource for pumping moms and parents Breastfeeding State Laws (ncsl.org).
Tip # 9 Don't let anyone else's story get in your way. If Sally says it was easy for her and Lorena said it was so difficult and couldn't be done. The only person to decide whether or not you should continue is YOU. Talk with parents that DID successfully pump when going back to work. Ask them what worked and what didn't and remember to ask what their goals were and if they reached out for professional help.
Tip #10 Please don't hesitate to reach out for professional help. I can connect you to resources. I can also help you within my scope of practice. There are so many organizations and professionals that are happy to help. Your breast/chestfeeding peers are also there to cheer you on!
Reference Source: Lactation Education Resources Breastfeeding Specialist Course.