Breastfeeding and working may seem like an impossible task. However, with the right equipment and a few basic tips it is a very attainable goal. Remember that practice makes perfect. Initially, you are bound to experience some difficulty, but you will find ways of making it work for you.
You will need the following for breastfeeding at work:
- Invest in a breast pump. Your breast pump will be your most important tool on this breastfeeding at work journey. There are loads of factors to consider when choosing a breast pump. Read our blog on choosing a breast pump to help you make this choice.
- Storage containers.If you start pumping regularly you will start building up a supply that you can freeze. You can store milk in specific storage containers or in breastmilk bags. Another very practical way is to freeze milk in an ice tray and to store the cubes. That way you can easily defrost the exact amount of milk that you need without wasting any.
- A breastpump bag. Ideally your bag should include an isolated compartment with some ice packs so that you can keep the milk cold during your workday and commute.
- A sterilising solution. This may mean a container for sterilising solution, a microwave steriliser or sterilising microwave bags. If you are unable to sterilise before every session you can also keep the pump in the freezer or in your cooler bag, as keeping it cold will prevent any organisms from growing in such a short period. You can then wash and sterilise as soon as possible.
- A private space. If you are lucky this will be your private office or your workplace’s designated area. If not you may have to be creative. Don’t lose hope, remember that this won’t be forever!
READ MORE: Top 5 Things You Need for Breastfeeding
Tips for making it work:
- Feed before you leave. Get your baby to nurse before you leave for the office, even if it means that you must feed them while they are half asleep.
- Set times for expressing when away. If possible, try to keep to your baby’s normal feeding schedule. At the least you will have to express every 3-4 hours. This will help you build up a supply of milk and stimulate your milk production. Don’t let your breasts become too full. This will not only be painful but could lead to mastitis and other complications.
- Nurse when you get home. As soon as you get home, nurse again. Co-ordinate with your child care provider so they can try as far as possible to co-ordinate feeds to coincide with when you get home.
- Build up a supply before you go back to work. Start building up a supply of breastmilk before you go to back to work. This will take the stress of from you if you aren’t able to pump regularly at work or while you get back into the routine. However, if possible don’t start expressing before baby is 6 weeks old. Ideally, this period should be used for baby to feed on demand and establish your supply to his/her needs.
- Assist your let-down reflex. You may struggle to get a let-down reflex away from baby and in the middle of a busy day. Listen to relaxing music, read a book, or look at photos or video clips of your baby.
- Keep up the healthy diet. If your days are busy, make sure you have a good breakfast and pack some snacks for during the day. Smoothies are great ways to get in the nutrients you need quickly.
- Drink lots of water.
- Give your baby extra cuddles. The transition can be hard for both of you, so allow time to adjust for both of you.
- Be realistic and open-minded. Ideally you would like to give baby only breastmilk. However, if this is not possible and baby needs a formula bottle here and there it’s not the end of the world. Any breastmilk that baby gets are worth gold.
ALSO READ: Five basic tips for breastfeeding