Making the decision to breastfeed is a wonderful choice, both for the health of your baby as well as for your health as a mom. Infants who are breastfed get fewer colds and ear infections; have lower rates of obesity, asthma, and allergies; and bond better with their mother. Moms who breastfeed also experience better bonding with their babies, have lower rates of depression, and can sometimes even lose some of that “baby fat” faster! But what if you are a working mom? How do you juggle the stress of your job with the demands of pumping?
As a working mom myself, I can attest to the fact that the reality of going back to work presents new challenges for mothers. With a little planning and persistence, however, you can continue to provide breast milk for your baby even in your absence.
Before your baby is even born, you can buy a good, high-quality electric breast pump. You will make up the price of your pump with your savings in formula! Hand pumps just will not be able to provide enough stimulation or empty your breasts enough to maintain your breast milk supply while working. You can also purchase a hands-free pumping bra that will allow you to multi-task while pumping.
Talk with your employer about providing an appropriate space for pumping as well as finding time in your daily schedule for pumping. Remember that you most likely will be pumping every 2-4 hours at work when you initially return, especially if your baby is young (ie, 6-8 weeks).
Practice pumping at home, and try to build up an extra supply of breast milk in your freezer. Depending on what kind of freezer you own, you may be able to store your breast milk for 6 to 12 months. Pumping immediately after your infant has nursed helps to provide extra stimulation and thus can help to increase your supply. Don’t be discouraged if you are unable to pump extra milk immediately—it takes time for your body to start producing more!
Most of all, try not to stress over your return to work. Anxiety and stress can negatively affect your breast milk supply. It may seem overwhelming, but remember that any amount of breast milk your baby receives is beneficial. You may also find the following article from the Le Leche League helpful: