How to Manage Breastfeeding While Returning to Work

Returning to work after maternity leave is an important step for any new mother. It can be particularly challenging for breastfeeding mothers, as they need to balance their job commitments with the desire to provide the best nutrition for their little ones. This article provides tips and strategies on how to handle breastfeeding while returning to work.

Discover practical strategies for managing breastfeeding while returning to work. Understand your rights, plan ahead, stay organized, seek support, and practice self-care to make the transition smoother.

Understand Your Rights

First and foremost, it is crucial to be aware of your rights as a breastfeeding mother at work.

  • The Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the U.S. requires employers to provide reasonable break times for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth. Employers are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public (US Department of Labor).
  • Know your local regulations too. Several countries and states provide additional protections for breastfeeding mothers.

Remember, knowledge is power. Knowing your rights will empower you to approach your employer with confidence.

Plan Ahead

Good planning is essential when it comes to managing breastfeeding and work. Here are some points to consider:

  • Identify a suitable place for expressing milk at work: This might be a private office, a lactation room, or another quiet, private space.
  • Invest in a good quality breast pump: A double-electric pump can help you express milk more quickly, saving valuable time during your work day.
  • Establish a breastfeeding and pumping schedule: Try to align this with your baby’s current feeding schedule as much as possible. This will help maintain your milk supply.

Stay Organized

Staying organized is key in managing the challenge of breastfeeding while working. Consider these tips:

  • Prepare everything you need the night before: This includes your breast pump, bottles, storage bags, and a cooler to store the milk.
  • Label your milk: Use date and time labels to ensure your baby gets the oldest milk first.
  • Keep a spare set of pump parts at work: This will be a lifesaver if you forget anything at home.

Seek Support

You don’t have to navigate this journey alone. Leverage the available support to make the transition smoother:

  • Talk to your HR department or supervisor about your needs: This might involve discussions about break times, suitable places to pump, and storage for your milk.
  • Reach out to a lactation consultant: They can provide guidance and tips on how to maintain your milk supply and handle common breastfeeding issues (International Lactation Consultant Association).
  • Connect with other working moms: Sharing experiences and solutions can be incredibly helpful.

Practice Self-Care

During this transition period, remember to take care of yourself.

  • Stay hydrated and eat nutritious food: Your body needs fuel to produce milk.
  • Rest as much as possible: Sleep deprivation can affect your milk supply.
  • Reduce stress: Employ relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or reading a book.

Remember, every mother’s journey is unique. What works for one might not work for another. Stay patient and flexible, and find what works best for you and your baby.

Returning to work while continuing to breastfeed can be challenging, but with the right information, preparation, and support, you can successfully navigate this transition. Here’s to your success in maintaining this special bond with your baby while thriving in your career.


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