For working moms: How to juggle office and breastfeeding!

Updated: Aug 05, 2013, 13:39 PM IST

Salome Phelamei

With most women being compelled to work even after having a baby, to meet the needs of the family, exclusively breastfeeding their kids has become impossible for nursing mothers. Dr Neerja Varshney, D.A.,D.G.O, PGDHHM, HOD Gynae Dr Hedgewar Arogya Sansthan, Karkardooma, Delhi, & H.O.O Kanti Nagar Maternity Centre, Delhi, provides some of the best tips for the lactating moms so that they can continue breastfeeding their babies while working.

1. Use breast pump: Juggling breastfeeding and working is not easy. You can use breast pump to express milk during morning hour and keep the bottles in refrigerator. The caregiver can use these bottles for feeding babies. And you`ll enjoy all the practical benefits of nursing your baby full-time when you are together after work and on weekends.

2. Spend time with your baby as much as you can: During your maternity leave spend maximum time with your baby so as to create good bond with your baby.

3. Breastfeed frequently: Doing everything you can to make breastfeeding work well in the early weeks is important to breastfeeding success after you return to work. You need to breastfeed early and often to encourage your breasts to produce lots of milk.

4. Extend your maternity leave: Plan to take as much maternity leave as you can. The longer you can enjoy this exclusive breastfeeding relationship, the easier it will be to continue when you are back on the job. Use vacation time, or any other time off that is available to you. Consider taking an unpaid leave to stay home longer with your baby, if that is financially possible. (Sacrificing some income at this point in your life could turn out to be one of the best investments you`ll ever make.) Working only part-time will also simplify breastfeeding.

Planning your return

4. Consider these alternatives to spending the entire day away from your baby:

Bring your baby to work: This may not be possible on an industrial assembly line, but there are many workplaces that can accommodate the presence of an infant. We`ve known mothers who work in shops, in offices, in family businesses, and in other settings who have just packed up baby and brought her along when it`s time to return to the job after a postpartum leave.

Try work and wear: Wear your baby in a sling-type carrier to keep baby close to you while you assist customers, sort papers, work at the computer, or even attend meetings. You may have to work a longer day or accept lesser pay to make up for the job time spent attending to your baby.

Bring the work to your baby: Working from home is becoming more and more common in these days of telecommuting. Even working from home one or two days a week and going to the office the rest of the days, will give you more time to breastfeed your baby on cue.

On-site day care: Family-friendly employers are increasingly making childcare available at the workplace. You can breast feed your child during lunch hour. The care giver can call you if baby is hungry.

Nearby daycare provider: Many parents look for childcare near their homes. Sometimes it`s more practical to look for a baby-sitter near your workplace, especially if you have a long commute that adds an hour or more to the total time you`re away from your baby. With daycare near your workplace, you may be able to go to your baby and nurse one or more times during the day.

Visits from your baby: Maybe it`s possible for your baby to come and visit you while you`re working, during your lunch break or at other times during the day. Mothers who make this option work for them often have dad or grandma as chief childcare provider.

Part-time work: Minimizing the time you spend away from your baby will make breastfeeding easier. Many mothers plan on working only part-time while their children are small--either shorter work days or fewer shifts per week. Others ease back into a full-time schedule slowly as they and their babies are ready.

5. Be flexible: Babies have a way of derailing mothers from their pre-planned career track. Expect to change pumps, dresses, caregivers, and even jobs. Try to remain flexible as you plan for your return to work and for how you will continue to breastfeed. Your needs will change and so will your baby`s.

6. Choose a friendly caregiver: Tell her how to thaw and warm your milk (written instructions may be helpful), and work out a system for preparing, labeling, and storing your baby`s bottles.

-Freeze milk in small amounts that thaw more quickly.

-Thaw the amount of milk needed for each day overnight.

-Your caregiver could try giving your baby cold milk from the refrigerator, but most babies like it warmed up, just like the milk they get from mom`s breast. Tell the caregiver that you want your baby held for all feedings.

7. Know your breast pump: Read the directions carefully — they`re your best source of information for how to put the pump together, how to get the best use out of it, and how to clean it. You may also find helpful tips on maximizing the amount of milk you can pump.

A good time to try pumping is early in the morning: Most mothers have an ample milk supply early in the day. Because your breasts continuously make milk, you`ll still have milk for your baby`s first morning feeding even if you pump several ounces before she awakens.

8. Get baby used to the bottle – but not soon:

Few weeks before joining office, is the suitable time to start bottles for your baby. Many women arrange to work only three or four days a week while their children are small. With the kind of time that mothers put in caring for babies and children after-hours, they certainly don`t have to apologize for not working a full 40-hour week.

9. Breastfeed your baby at home or at the caregiver`s before leaving for work and as soon as you return home: This maximizes your baby`s feedings at the breast and minimizes the amount of pumping you`ll have to do. Plan ahead for the first return-from-work meeting. Ask your caregiver not to feed the baby a bottle within an hour of your anticipated arrival.

10. During the work day, do as many breastfeedings as you can: Depending on your work hours, most employed mothers can get in at least four breastfeedings during the usual workday — one early morning feeding before work, a couple evening feedings, and a before-bed feeding.

11. Breastfeed full-time whenever you`re not at work: In order to maintain and build-up your milk supply, you need to have days when you breastfeed frequently to make up for the times when you and your baby are separated.

12. Enjoy nighttime nursing: Breastfed babies who are away from their mothers during the day often nurse more frequently at night. After mother returns to work, some babies reverse their daily patterns by sleeping more and feeding less during the day and then clustering their feedings during the night.

13. You can combine breastfeeding and formula feeding: Breastfeeding is not an all-or-none phenomenon. While many mothers who combine nursing and working do supply their babies with breast milk for many months, others use formula as a back-up when they are unable to pump enough milk. In other cases, baby nurses at the breast when mother is available and gets formula when she is not.

14. Take care of yourself: Faced with the demands of a job and a baby, you may find it hard to accomplish anything else beyond doing your job and taking care of your little one. However, one thing you should not neglect is taking care of yourself.

15. Share the childcare and the chores: If mother makes all of the milk and some of the money, dad needs to share the childcare and housework. Breastfeeding while working is a family enterprise. Explain to your partner the benefits of continued breastfeeding. School- age children should also share in the housework. Delegate all the household chores that could be done by someone else other than you.

Giving your baby your milk for as long as you can is one of the best investments in your child`s medical, emotional, and intellectual future.

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