The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding your baby for at least 12 months with exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. But with many full-time moms returning to work too soon, lower rates of breastfeeding result. Planning ahead before returning to work can help you continue to breastfeed your baby.
“The key is to establish a better milk supply,” says lactation consultants Stacy Brown with Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital and Kristi Davis with Baptist Women’s Hospital. Evaluate your maternity leave to determine if it’s possible to stay home at least six to 12 weeks. If not, discuss with your employer the option of starting back part-time or working split shifts. Brown and Davis say they often see moms returning to work as early as four weeks and this alone can make the transition difficult.
Buy or Rent a Quality Pump
Investing in a good-quality electric breast pump may be your best bet for expressing milk during the workday. Consult with a lactation consultant, your hospital, the WIC program, or public health department to help choose one. “Under the Affordable Health Care Act, most insurance companies are now covering lactation services and equipment including breast pumps for moms,” mentions Brown. To learn more, ask your company’s human resources department.
Tennessee law require employers to provide daily, unpaid break time for a mother to express milk, and to make a reasonable effort to provide a private location for pumping. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also offers The Employee’s Guide to Breastfeeding and Working (at mchb.hrsa.gov) under The Business Case for Breastfeeding resource kit, which can help working moms broach the topic of maternal support with their supervisor.
It’s important for moms to rest, relax, and breastfeed while at home. Two weeks ahead of your return date, mimic the schedule you will have when away from baby. Carrying a photo of your baby, or clothing that smells like your baby, even hearing a recording of baby’s voice are secrets to getting the milk flow for easier pumping.
Typical challenges include getting your baby to take a bottle, finding time to pump, and the emotional tug of being away from your child. If you work on helping baby adjust to taking breast milk from a bottle shortly before returning to work and stay on a regular feeding schedule, these problems may be resolved. Returning to work gradually can also help you both transition.
Last but not least, assemble a support team of family, friends, and community resources you can count on to help ease the transition.
• For more information, visit shelbycountybreastfeeding.org or contact Memphis Area Lactation Consultant Association at malca4memphis.org
Return to Work Breastfeeding Class
• Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital. $30. By appointment only. Call 516-6645.
Breastfeeding Basics Class
• Baptist Women’s Hospital. Prenatal breastfeeding class includes information on pumping and back-to-work education. Offered one Saturday a month. $30. Call 226-5764.
The Big Latch On Memphis 2013
• Pump It UP Bartlett. Saturday, August 3, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. If you’re a nursing mom, come join us as babies latch on in an attempt to break the world’s breastfeeding record during this national event. Breastfeeding awareness info, fun activities, and giveaways. Free. For details, go to biglatchonmemphis.com
Breastfeeding Update 2013: Challenges that Compromise Breastfeeding Success
• Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital Research Tower Auditorium. Wednesday, August 7, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Registration begins at 7 a.m. Celebrate World Breastfeeding Week with a one-day conference. Topics include Making More Milk and Breastfeeding After Cosmetic Surgery. Register at malca4memphis.org or call 287-5559.
• Women’s and Children’s Pavilion Classroom 2 at Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital. Friday, August 9, at 1 p.m. In recognition of World Breastfeeding Week, new and expecting moms learn how to incorporate breastfeeding into daily life. Bring your baby. Free. Registration required. Visit methodisthealth.org or call 516-6645.