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Back to work? You can keep breastfeeding
If you want to keep breastfeeding your baby after returning to work, do some research ahead of time and map out a plan that will work for you.
You've just gotten this whole breastfeeding thing down pat. And now it's time to head back to work. What now? Do you have to give it up?
Not necessarily. If you want to keep providing your child with breast milk, you have several options. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other experts offer the following ideas:
- Use child care at your workplace (if it is available) or find a day care nearby so you can continue to nurse during the day.
- Talk to your employer about adjusting your work schedule. You could consider working from home if your job allows it. Or you could consider working part time and breastfeeding your child before you go to work and when you get home.
- Breastfeed when you are at home but allow your child to have formula when you are at work.
- Pump breast milk at work so your child can have breast milk from a bottle later when you are not there.
If you decide to pump milk for your child to have later, keep in mind these tips from the American Academy of Family Physicians and other experts:
Plan ahead. Take time before or during your maternity leave to talk to your employer about your plan to continue breastfeeding and how you can manage pumping at work. Find out if there is a lactation room available, or see if a private space can be set aside for you to pump. (Federal law requires employers to provide breaks and a private space for new mothers to pump milk; check whether your state provides further rights for you.) Locate a refrigerator where you can store the breast milk at work, or plan to bring a cooler with ice packs. And plan your wardrobe around button-front blouses to make pumping easier. Wearing layers and patterned tops is also a good idea to help disguise leaks.
Practice makes perfect. Choose a pump and practice using it before you return to work. Take the opportunity to store enough excess milk for your first day at work plus some extra for unexpected needs. Baby will need practice too; begin introducing a bottle before you return to work. It's also important to make sure your child's caregiver supports the decision to provide breast milk for your baby.
Sometimes continuing to breastfeed doesn't work out as long as you hoped. If this happens, congratulate yourself on what you were able to accomplish.