By Sandra Beck
Going back to work does not need to mean the end of breast-feeding your baby. The health benefits continue well past the first year, and the World Health Organization recommends exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months.
There are two options, depending on the age of your baby, your working pattern and your own milk supply. Some mothers can keep up a good milk supply simply feeding their baby when they are with them. This method works best for older babies, who can eat solids during the daytime. Co-sleeping and night feeds will help keep the milk supply stimulated.
Alternatively you can express at work, using your hands or using a pump. Challenges you may face include lack of break time and inadequate facilities for pumping and storing human milk.
You can reasonably expect to be provided with a sanitary private room to pump (i.e. not the toilet). You might find it helpful to have a picture of your baby with you. There are some very portable and quiet pumps available now (e.g. the Avent Isis) range, which have breast milk storage accessories. Breast-milk should generally be refrigerated, but you will find its natural antibacterial propertied keep it fresher than normal milk, even un-chilled. It’s up to you whether you put a big ‘Boob Juice’ sticker on the bottle in the fridge, or just wrap it discreetly in an opaque bag.
It is always a good idea to try to find out your employers policies on the matter. It will help you take up any support that is offered – or perhaps suggest improvements that will benefit other mothers.
Several states have passed or are considering legislation mandating that employers make available appropriate space and sufficient time for mothers to breast-feed or express milk in the workplace. Other states’ legislation does not include mandates but offers tax incentives to companies with strong breast-feeding support.
If you work from home, breastfeeding isn’t an issue, and while we support the woman’s individual right to choose what is best for her and her family, we wanted to provide this article for those who do choose to pump at work. Here is a link to a great site with lots of helpful information.
La Leche League website http://www.llli.org/