Preparing for your maternity leave needs to involve planning out your breastfeeding program. Winging it, with a hope to figure it out after baby arrives, isn’t the smartest way to deliver breastfeeding success. We’ve reached out to our breastfeeding expert, Gina Ciagne and put together a Working Mom’s Guide to Breastfeeding.
Gina is a mom of two breastfed children and the Director of Breastfeeding and Consumer Relations for Lansinoh Laboratories. As a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) and a La Leche League International-trained breastfeeding peer counselor, she wants to make sure you breastfeed for as long as possible–even after you get back to the office or workplace.
Set expectations early
New laws are in place to make breastfeeding a right not a privilege. Before you begin maternity leave have a conversation with your boss and identify the breastfeeding space you will use. You might need to contact your human resource department. Don’t be apologetic. The new law states, “employers must provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth.” For state by state, information on breastfeeding laws visit www.ncsl.org
TIP: To make the conversation easier, share with your boss that breastfed babies need far fewer “sick baby” visits.
Chart out your schedule
Gina tells us, “Pumping at the office can be very intimidating. But you’ll learn it’s a necessary thing you need to do.” Gina advises getting familiar with your breast pump long before you slip on those power suits and head back to the desk. “Knowledge is power, read up on how to pump,” advises Gina. The Affinity Pump, is one of Gina’s favorite tools, “it performs as closely as possible to mimicking a baby’s sucking motion.” Gina also shares that new moms shouldn’t crank up the pump to the highest setting thinking they will get the most milk out. “In order to pump fast and efficiently you don’t have to use fastest setting. Long slow draws may be best for you,” says Gina.
TIP: Start your pumping program a few weeks before heading back to work to build up a milk supply and familiarize yourself with pumping.
The First Bottle
There’s no rush to start baby on a bottle of expressed milk. But when you’ve picked the date you plan to head back to work, DON’T wait until the last minute to transition baby to a bottle. Gina says, “ideally you won’t introduce a bottle to baby until at least 3-4 weeks after birth. When you are ready to give baby the first bottle of expressed milk you’ll want to have a few bottles cleaned and ready to go.
TIP: Have someone who is not mom give the baby the first bottle. Otherwise baby could get confused and think, “hey why isn’t mom giving me her breast?”
Work Out a Schedule
Once you’re back at work start planning your breastfeeding into your day. Figure out how long each feeding is going to take and block off your schedule (be sure to clearly communicate this with your boss). Gina advises having two sets of pump supplies. “There’s nothing worse than being at work and realizing you’ve left a crucial piece of equipment at home,” says Gina.
TIP: Keep your pumping kit stocked and ready to go. Prep the bags and have them labeled and ready to fill.
By pumping you are doing something wonderful for your child–and in the long run limiting the amount of days you are going to miss from work tending to a sick baby. Think about the long term investment if you ever feel guilt at slipping out of a meeting. Some moms worry about the potentially embarassing noise factor. Even the quietest pump will make a gentle noise as it cycles and suctions. In the best case scenario you can have a personal fridge or cooler for your breastmilk. If you have to use a communal fridge, be sure to clearly label your milk with a Sharpie.
TIP: Keep the pump in your tote bag to muffle sound or place a burp cloth or wash cloth under the pump’s base to muffle the sound.
The Momtrends Four Part Breastfeeding Series is brought to you by Lansinoh. Lansinoh supports moms by developing amazing products to make breastfeeding easier and more enjoyable–so you can bond with baby, not struggle with your schedule.
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