You’re moving into a new role as “Working Breastfeeding Mother.” This handy checklist will help to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Congratulate yourself for providing your baby with the benefits of breastmilk.
At Least Two Weeks Before Returning
- You’ve got a friend. Either in person or on breastfeeding message boards, connect with working breastfeeding moms to learn what to expect.
- Purchase a pump. You’ll be intimate with it, so ask questions and do your research.
About 2-4 Weeks Before Returning
- Practice, practice, practice. Practice pumping, finding a method to deliver your expressed milk and helping baby to transition. Like learning to nurse, you’ll need to get used to expressing milk. Your baby will need practice, too. This time allows both of you to get accustomed to baby drinking your milk froma source that is not directly from you. Read Pumping Basics for more help and tips on getting the most out of pumping.
- Outsource. While at work you’ll need to find the best method to provide expressed milk. You can use a cup, syringe, or bottle, but it really depends on your baby’s temperament and age and your situation. Some moms have found that feeding through a straw is easier for a breastfed baby.
- Enlist help. To ease the transition, have another person (husband or partner, babysitter, grandparent) offer your expressed milk to your baby. Ideally, you should introduce the bottle or nipple no sooner than four weeks of age to ensure your supply is established, or at least two weeks before you return to work.
Continue to stimulate your breasts during what would normally be a nursing session so your body gets the signals it needs to keep making milk. You can use your pump for this.
- Find your happy place at work in advance. While pumping, you need to be relaxed, comfortable and undisturbed. If your company does not have a Lactation Room, find an office, conference room or private spot where you can shut - and preferably lock – the door.
- Do a dry run. Have your baby stay with your caregiver for a few hours. This will help ease the transition when you return to work. Use the time to get organized and adjust to time away from your baby.
Speaking of caregivers, try to choose one who is nursing-friendly. Tell them how much nursing means to you and your baby and make sure they understand the importance of keeping your milk safe. Refer to Tips for Storing Breastmilk for more information.
- Outfit yourself. Assemble a wardrobe for pumping with items such as two-piece outfits with lightweight tops that are pulled up from the bottom. Combine with a jacket or button-down sweater so you can pump discreetly plus have something to cover you up if you have a milk stain.
Don't forget to wear nursing pads, such as Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads, to avoid leaks.
Once You Have Returned
- Timing is everything. Know when to pump and when to breastfeed. Feeding your baby at the breast is ideal to keep up your supply and nurture them - so plan ahead for that precious time. And remember to pump when you are away from your baby so your body gets the regular stimulation it needs to keep up your supply.
- Plan when and where. Breastfeed just before you leave, when you return and before baby’s bedtime. You may have to wake up earlier to get ready and still have time to nurse. You can nurse right when you return, depending on your schedule and when your caregiver has given the expressed milk. Feeding at the breast is the best way to drain your breasts and trigger more milk production so you may need to remind your caregiver not to feed your baby just before you return.
- Take a deep breath. This will become second nature to you and your baby. We know that being a working, breastfeeding mom is not an easy task, but it’s well worth it. We’re also here to support you, so check in with our lactation counselors if you need some extra guidance.
- Get packing. It helps to have a packing routine. Here are some ideas on what to pack:
- Clean pump bottles (one for each pumping session plus one) with lids and storage bags, such as Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags, or storage bottles, such as Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bottles;
- All the parts you will need to express - complete collection kit including valves, diaphragms, tubing, the pump base, and A/C adaptor or batteries;
- Wet hand wipes;
- Extra clothing, such as a top or sweater, to leave at work in case of leaks;
- Nursing pads;
- Snacks and lunch, including high protein healthy foods and drinks to keep you hydrated