You’ve made the healthiest choice for your baby and are breastfeeding, but maternity leave is almost over and it’s time to get ready to go back to work. With a little planning and support, you can continue to breastfeed your baby. The earlier you can start planning the better, but it’s never too late to set up a good plan.
During Your Pregnancy
Talk with your manager/supervisor about your goal to continue breastfeeding when you return to work. The Affordable Care Act mandates that all employers with more than 50 employees provide mothers with babies younger than 12 months a reasonable break time and private place (other than a bathroom) to pump.
Do your homework on breast pumps. Some insurance companies cover the cost of purchasing a quality electric pump. If yours does not, investigate renting a pump. Quality, electric pumps are best. Less expensive, battery-operated pumps are not as effective and have been shown to diminish a mother’s milk supply.
After Baby is Born
Get off to a good start by putting your baby to your breast within the first hour of birth and then eight to 12 times per day. This will help you establish a good milk supply.
Seek help from the nurses in the hospital and a lactation consultant. They can help you with proper breastfeeding technique that will make the experience most effective and enjoyable for you and your baby.
Offer a bottle one time a day as your baby reaches three to four weeks of age. You want your baby to be comfortable drinking breast milk from a bottle before you return to work. Don’t wait until the last minute.
Freeze your milk by pumping extra milk after every other feeding about two weeks prior to returning to work. At the end of the day, combine that extra milk into a container and freeze it. By doing this, you should have about 14 feedings ready to go when you return to work. Breast milk can stay in a refrigerator for five days, a freezer for three to six months or a deep freezer for six to 12 months.
Plan your schedule to ease the transition. If possible, return on a Thursday rather than Monday so you have a shorter week back at work. Additionally, try to take the next few Wednesdays off so that you are not working more than two days in a row at first.
Pump frequently, as frequently as your baby typically nurses. In an eight-hour workday that means about two to three times for 15 to 20 minutes each. That will help maintain a good milk supply.
Visit your baby. If your baby is in childcare near your workplace, see if you can visit during your lunch break to breastfeed.
Take time to breastfeed your baby when you pick him or her up from childcare. Breastfeeding your baby before you both head home from childcare allows you both an opportunity to relax and reconnect.
Seek support. Breastfeeding is a different experience for every mom and baby and there are plenty of experts to help you be successful. If you have questions or need help, contact:
- Your healthcare provider
- University of Michigan Lactation Consultants: 734-232-7885
- Breastfeeding Clinic at the Briarwood Center for Women, Children & Young Adults: 734-232-2600
Take the next step:
- For more information about breastfeeding resources, visit the breastfeeding page on our website.
- Also on the blog: Breastfeeding basics
University of Michigan Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital opened in December 2011, offering women a state-of-the-art place to welcome their babies to the world in the most caring and comfortable way possible. From private rooms to birthing tubs, each feature was designed around mom and baby’s every need. Learn more at www.UofMhealth.org/birthcenter.