10 Tips for Going Back to Work While Breastfeeding
Going back to work after the birth of your baby is tough in so many ways. But the demands of breastfeeding can add even more of a challenge. Here are 10 tips to help ease the transition.
1. Plan your pumping schedule (and then block your calendar)
Carving out time in the day to pump can be tough, but keeping a regular pumping schedule will help maintain your supply and also establish boundaries with coworkers. Pick times that your little one would normally eat, and then block your calendar so the time can’t be taken.
2. Take videos and photos of your baby breastfeeding
It can be tough to pump in a workplace setting, or even just with work on the mind. Seeing your little one breastfeeding can help trigger a letdown, so having a few photos or videos saved that you can look at to get started can be helpful.
3. Start back midweek
The first few days back to work can be tough - both physically and emotionally. You’ll be figuring out your new normal - from pumping (and way more dishes to wash) to childcare (and all the logistics that come with it).
A midweek start means a shorter first week, so it’ll feel just a little bit more manageable. Then you can use your first weekend to evaluate how things went and make adjustments as needed.
4. Expect disrupted nighttime sleep
Your baby will feel a schedule shift just as you do, and as babies adjust, they often experience changes in their nighttime sleep - typically waking and breastfeeding more during the night. Do your best to get to bed early, and remember that it is normal and it is temporary.
5. Make a packing list
If you work outside the home, set yourself up for success on busy mornings by creating a list to check each day before you leave the house. There might be some things you can leave at work, but a comprehensive list will remove some of the stress from your routine and also decrease the chance of leaving something important at home.
If you work from home, consider resetting your working and pumping space at night for a smooth start each day.
6. Think through your wardrobe
You likely spent a decent amount of your maternity leave in casual clothes, and you may not have worn a “normal” bra in months. Breastfeeding can change the size of your breasts quite a bit, so make sure your bras still fit.
While you’re at it, make sure you have a comfortable pumping bra and tops that make undressing and redressing efficient.
7. Pack extra clothes
It isn’t just your baby who needs extra outfits. You won’t have blowouts, but you might have leaky breasts or a pumping faux pas.
8. Make a work nursing kit
Just like you probably have at home, having a kit at your desk with essentials for breastfeeding is convenient and efficient. Include anything you typically want while nursing or pumping, like nursing pads, nipple cream, and of course, Hydration Support.
9. Discuss expectations with your caregiver
Beyond just practicing bottles with baby, make sure that whoever is with your baby during the day is well-versed in breast milk preparation and safety. Providers at daycare centers are typically trained in this, but nannies or family members may need a refresher.
Be sure to share other preferences as well (share verbally and then provide a written summary). For example, how do you want them to communicate how much milk your baby drank at each feeding? Do you want them to save leftover milk for milk baths? Do you want all bottles to be cleaned and sterilized at the end of the day? Communicating preferences clearly helps minimize frustration and future tough conversations.
10. Set up a support system
Going back to work can be an emotional journey, particularly as you adjust to a new way of life, shifting priorities, and even a new identity as a mom. Spend some time setting up a support system - it might be your partner and close friends or it might be coworkers and a therapist. And be sure to check out our tips for How to Manage Anxiety Around Returning to Work Postpartum.
Transitions are tough, but so are you!
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