At the end of their maternity leave, many mums return to the workforce. For many working mothers, returning to work poses new challenges above the usual workload. Breastfeeding mothers may not find it as convenient as before, and new strategies may have to come into play.
Breastfeeding is essential both to the mother and the growing baby. Your baby needs breastmilk for optimal growth, comfort and immunity. Breastfeeding while at work allows you to maintain the bond between you and your baby. Also, it has physiological, psychological and financial benefits for the mum and her family.
Breastfeeding at work: Options
Returning to work does not automatically rule out breastfeeding. There are several ways to keep breastfeeding as a mum at work. However, this depends on your workplace and childcare policies. The Australian Breastfeeding Association accredits many workplaces as Breastfeeding Friendly Workplaces, so you may face fewer problems than you anticipated. Your workplace may have a crèche where employees may have their babies cared for. If that is the case, your child may be brought to you, or you may have to breastfeed when necessary or during breaks.
In some other cases, you might consider feeding your baby before and after work and at night. However, you may have your baby fed with expressed breast milk or infant formula while at work, and your baby is in care. To keep up with your milk supply, you may express while at work and send for your baby.
Breastfeeding at work: expressing breastmilk
Expressing breastmilk at work may not be very convenient. An electric breast pump will make your expression easier and quicker. You will need the following:
- A clean area with privacy and a power point (if you will use an electric breast pump) to express
- A comfortable chair
- A clean refrigerator or freezer for storing expressed breastmilk
- A washbasin and soap for washing and rinsing hands and pump parts.
- A clean, dry and secure place to store your breast pump (electric or manual)
Expressing breastmilk may be done during breaks. However, you may have to request flexible working hours and more breaks if you need extra time to complete this task.
Tips to help mum breastfeed at work
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. You will get better at expressing with more experience.
- If you find it difficult to express, you may place a photo or clothing of your baby to help your let-down reflex.
- Help your child adjust to the new regimen by allowing the caregiver to feed your baby some expressed milk while you are there.
- If you feel your workplace discriminates against you, you may push your breastfeeding rights by contacting the Australian Human Rights Commission.
This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.
You can make an appointment with Dr Kenny on 07 3188 5000.