Making it work: Combining breastfeeding and working - Part 1

Making your plans for breastfeeding once you go back to work.

Breastfeeding is recommended for you baby’s first year. The longer babies are breastfed, the greater the benefits for mom, baby and society. Planning and preparing to return to work or school will help make this transition go smoothly. The first few weeks are an adjustment period for any nursing pair. You’ll need to develop a new routine that works for you. Breastfeeding will keep you and your baby close; it is the one thing that only you can provide for your baby. You and your baby will benefit for a lifetime from the effort.

Breastfeeding is good for your employer, too. Mothers and fathers of breastfed babies use fewer sick days than parents of formula fed babies. Breastfed babies tend to be healthier than formula fed babies. This difference can significantly lower a company’s healthcare costs. Companies that are interested in keeping valued employees after childbirth are often willing to work with mothers in developing a plan to support breastfeeding.

Before baby arrives, gather information about breastfeeding. Talk with other mothers who are combining working and breastfeeding. Talk with your employer about when and where you can express milk in your workplace, extending your maternity and family care leave and any other concerns you may have related to breastfeeding once you return to work.

During babies first few weeks try to get breastfeeding off to a good start. This is the time when milk supply is being established. Breastfeed frequently to help make lots of milk and avoid feeding your baby from a bottle when you and your baby are together. Get help quickly if you are having any difficulty.

When breastfeeding is going well and baby is three to six weeks old, lean about collecting and storing breast milk and feeding expressed milk. Select a breast milk expression technique that works and feels comfortable for you. Practice expressing milk. Using an electric pump that allows you to express from both breasts at once decreases your overall pumping time. Start building your frozen breast milk supply to introduce bottle or cup feeding. Give your baby at least one bottle or cup feeding each week. Begin pumping now to develop an abundant milk supply for when you return to work. Following these steps will prepare you to go back to work worry free. Please read Making it Work: Combining breastfeeding and working - Part 2.

Michigan State University Extension offers breastfeeding support to feeding mothers, their babies and their companion. Contact your local MSU Extension office to find support near you.

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