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: GOING TO WORK & BREASTFEEDING :

For any mother, even the thought of returning to work can cause some stress. Contact me to schedule a visit, together we can work out a plan to help you and your baby through the new transition back to work.



20 TIPS FOR WORKING AND BREASTFEEDING - Courtesy Dr. Sears

Women have always worked and breastfed. The pioneer mother on the prairie had lots to do besides nurse her babies, and even modern mothers who are at home during the day struggle with the work of running busy households while responding to the needs of their infants. Combining working and breastfeeding is not really a new concept. In 1967 Martha breastfed our first baby, Jim, while working part-time as a nurse. Bill was an underpaid intern, and we needed Martha's income to survive.

Here are twenty time-tested tips to help you continue to give your baby the very best in nutrition after you return to your job.

YOUR WEEKS AT HOME

1. Make a commitment.
Juggling breastfeeding and working is not easy. There will be days when you wonder if it's all worth it. You'll develop a love-hate relationship with your pump. You'll leak at embarrassing moments, and you may be on the receiving end of less than supportive comments from ignorant co-workers. There will be days when you're ready to toss in the pump and reach for the formula. Yet, once you make a commitment to continuing to breastfeed, you'll find a way to do it. If you believe that breastfeeding is important for your baby and for yourself, doing what it takes to continue this beautiful relationship will not seem as difficult. And you'll enjoy all the practical benefits of nursing your baby full-time when you are together after work and on weekends.

You may be worried that nursing and working will be a lot of bother, or friends may have told you about their own difficulties with pumping milk or arranging feeding schedules. Working and caring for a small baby is a juggling act, so you need to think carefully about this choice and how you will manage. If you're not sure that you want to continue breastfeeding after you return to your job, give it at least a 30-day trial period. This will give you a chance to work out any problems and settle into a mutually-rewarding experience for you and baby. Have confidence in yourself. You can do this!

2. Get connected.
To build a solid relationship with your baby, you must banish the "what if's." "What if he won't take a bottle?" "What if she won't settle down without nursing?" "When I pump milk at home I can pump only a little bit. What if I can't pump enough milk when I'm back at work?"

Don't let these worries about the future intrude on your enjoyment of your first weeks with your baby. These are legitimate concerns, but at the same time, they are all problems that can be solved. It's good to plan ahead--but not too much. Don't let your preoccupation with the day you need to return to work ("W" day) rob you of the joy of those weeks of being a full-time mother. So even if your maternity leave is only a few short weeks, use this time to allow yourself to be completely absorbed by your baby. Think of this time as a "babymoon"-like a honeymoon, with emphasis on establishing a relationship with minimal intrusions. This season of your life will never come again; treasure it while it's here. (You can organize those closets next year--or five years from now.) Mothering a newborn will absorb all your time. It should. These weeks after birth are when mothers fall in love with their babies. And, as with any love affair, the two of you need time to get to know one another.

Will focusing on just being a mother now make it more difficult to leave your baby later? It might. We've seen many mothers who had thought they would return to the workplace move heaven and earth in order to stay home longer with their babies. We've also seen the payoff for mothers who take the time to really get attached to their babies but who do return to their jobs: they work very hard at maintaining the close relationship with their child. They enjoy their babies more, and the benefits to their children are lifelong.

3. Get breastfeeding off to a good start.
Doing everything you can to make breastfeeding work well in the early weeks is important to breastfeeding success after you return to work. You need to breastfeed early and often to encourage your breasts to produce lots of milk. Feeding your baby on cue will get your milk supply in line with your baby's needs. And your baby needs lots of practice at the breast so that she has good sucking skills that will not be affected by artificial nipples later on. The more you can learn about breastfeeding at this stage, the more easily you will be able to solve any problems that might occur later on. Plan to take as much maternity leave as you can. The longer you can enjoy this exclusive breastfeeding relationship, the easier it will be to continue when you are back on the job. Use vacation time, or any other time off that is available to you. Consider taking an unpaid leave to stay home longer with your baby, if that is financially possible. (Sacrificing some income at this point in your life could turn out to be the one of the best investments you'll ever make.) Working only part-time will also simplify breastfeeding. If there is a compelling reason why your baby must receive breastmilk, perhaps because of prematurity or allergies, you may be able to prolong your leave time by getting a letter from your doctor.

PLANNING YOUR RETURN

4. Explore your options.

Consider these alternatives to spending the entire day away from your baby:

5. Be flexible.
Babies have a way of derailing mothers from their pre-planned career track. Expect to change pumps, dresses, caregivers, and even jobs. Try to remain flexible as you plan for your return to work and for how you will continue to breastfeed. Your needs will change and so will your baby's. If something that worked well a few weeks ago is not working now, change it. Babies have different needs and preferences at different stages.

You may be surprised at the strength of your attachment to your baby. It may be more difficult to leave her than you thought it would be. You may also be far more stressed and tired out than you anticipated. Many couples re-evaluate their lifestyles and their job commitments during the years that their children are young. Don't be afraid to explore possibilities you might not have thought of before you became pregnant--quitting your job, finding a job that is more family-friendly, starting a home-based business, or even becoming the child-care provider who looks after other people's children so that you can spend time with your own.

6. Choose a breastfeeding-friendly caregiver.
If you can, make your arrangements for a substitute caregiver while you're still pregnant, so that the search for a baby-sitter doesn't consume valuable time and energy that could be spent on your baby. Be sure to tell your caregiver how much being able to continue breastfeeding means to you, and thank this person for helping to make this possible.

If your baby's caregiver is unfamiliar with breastfed babies and handling expressed human milk, you'll need to gently and tactfully educate her. Share information about the benefits of breastfeeding and about how your baby is growing and thriving on your milk. Tell her how to thaw and warm your milk (written instructions may be helpful), and work out a system for preparing, labeling, and storing your baby's bottles. Make this as simple as possible so that the caregiver can devote her attention to the baby, not the bottle. To speed the delivery of your milk to your baby so that she doesn't have to wait for bottles when she is hungry, try these tips:

  • Freeze milk in small amounts that thaw more quickly.
  • Thaw the amount of milk needed for each day overnight in the refrigerator. Any milk left after 24 hours will have to be discarded, but if your baby's milk consumption is fairly predictable, you can do this without worrying about waste.
  • Your caregiver could try giving your baby cold milk from the refrigerator, but most babies prefer it warmed up, just like the milk they get from mom's breast.
  • Tell the caregiver that you want your baby held for all feedings, and that your baby should be picked up whenever he cries or fusses. If the caregiver is having trouble getting your baby to accept a bottle during your first days back at work, see won't take a bottle. Tell her what to offer your baby when he wants to suck for comfort--a pacifier, or perhaps the caregiver's clean finger. Be supportive and sympathetic--a good relationship with this person is important. But first and foremost, remember that you are in charge here. You are responsible for your baby's well-being.

    7. Get to know your breast pump.
    About two weeks before your plan to return to work, get the breast pump out of the case and figure out how to make it work. Read the directions carefully--they're your best source of information for how to put the pump together, how to get the best use out of it, and how to clean it. You may also find helpful tips on maximizing the amount of milk you can pump. If you have bought or rented your pump from a lactation consultant or La Leche League Leader, this person will be another source of support and information. (For more information on how to use a breast pump, see Breast Pumps)

    It's helpful if you can build up even a small stockpile milk in the freezer before you go back to work. You'll feel more confident and you'll be less likely to worry about pumping enough milk for your baby while you're gone. A good time to try pumping is early in the morning. Most mothers have an ample milk supply early in the day. Because your breasts make milk continuously, you'll still have milk for your baby's first morning feeding even if you pump several ounces before she awakens.

    Nursing tip for beginners: Don't panic if you get only a small amount of milk the first few times you pump. Many a mother has gotten out her pump to start stockpiling milk for her return to work and has managed to pump only a half-ounce (or even less). If few more attempts turn out the same way, and you begin to feel worried about your plans to return to work and continue breastfeeding, here's information to reassure you.
  • Don't worry that your baby is not getting enough to eat. Your body does not respond to a pump the way it responds to your baby. Plus, your baby is more efficient at getting milk out of your breasts than the mechanical pump.
  • Don't worry that you won't be able to pump enough milk when you're separated from your baby. When you squeeze pumping sessions in between nursing, there just may not be much milk in your breasts to pump. When you're at work and it's been two-and-a-half or three hours since you've fed your baby, the milk will be there, and it will come out.
  • With more practice, your milk ejection reflex will become conditioned to the pump. Right now, your milk lets down after your baby sucks for a little while, or maybe in anticipation of your baby sucking. Your body will soon learn to react in a similar way to the pump and the routine that surrounds pumping.
  • 8. Get baby used to the bottle - but not too soon.
    Someone is going to tell you, "Give your baby a bottle by two weeks of age, so he'll get used to it. Otherwise, he may never take it." This is poor advice. It's best to avoid bottles, certainly during the first three weeks. Offering a bottle at the time your baby is learning the fine art of latch-on and you are building up your milk supply runs the risk of interfering with both of these processes. If the bottle is introduced too soon, some babies develop nipple confusion; others may not. Some babies switch back and forth from breast to bottle without difficulty Others quickly learn that it's easier to get milk from a bottle and have difficulty returning to the breast. Of course, you don't know if you have this kind of baby until after the bottle is introduced and baby is unwilling to take the breast. It's wiser not to take the risk, especially if your baby has had difficulty learning to take the breast. Give him some time to consolidate what he's learned about breastfeeding before you present him with a new challenge. A hungry baby will learn to take a bottle eventually, especially if your milk is in it. A couple weeks before you return to work, begin offering baby the bottle as a toy and let him get familiar with it. Don't obsess about baby accepting the bottle, and don't force the issue. If baby takes the bottle, fine; if he doesn't, okay. Some babies refuse to take bottles from their mother (a sort of "what's wrong with this picture?" feeling), yet take the bottle from another caregiver.

    9. Negotiate with your employer.

    You'll need to talk about your plans for continuing to breastfeed with your employer and/or your supervisor before you return to work. You don't want to be desperately looking around for a place to pump on your first day back to work, when your breasts are full and you've just realized that the ladies' lounge has no outlets for plugging in your electric pump.

    Develop a plan that you think will work for you--when you will pump, where you will store milk, other special arrangements like being able to visit your baby and nurse during your lunch hour. If you know other women in your workplace who have pumped milk for their babies, talk to them about the problems they encountered and how they solved them. In putting together your plan, consider the following:
  • When will you pump? You will need to pump about as often as your baby nurses, every two to three hours. If you work an eight-hour day, this means pumping at mid-morning, at lunch, and at mid-afternoon. If you pump both breasts at the same time, allow 15 to 20 minutes, 30 minutes if you pump each breast separately. You may have to arrive earlier and stay later to make up for time spent pumping.
  • Where will you pump? At your desk? In the ladies' room? Can you borrow an office or use an empty room to pump in privacy? (Hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door.) The ladies' lounge is a good place if you like company while you pump--and some moms do). If you work in a hospital or medical center, there may be a pumping room near the newborn nursery or neonatal intensive care unit.
  • Some workplaces may have a special lactation lounge for mothers who are pumping milk. If you work for a large company that employs many women of child- bearing age, you may be able to convince your employer of the need for a corporate lactation program, which might include a room set aside for pumping, hospital-grade pumps, and milk storage facilities, along with information and support for breastfeeding mothers.
  • Ideally, the place where you pump will have an electrical outlet, so that you can use an electric pump, if that is your choice, and a sink to rinse off the parts of the pump that come in contact with your milk. You'll need a comfortable chair and a table for your equipment, your lunch, or any paperwork you might want to look at while you're pumping.
  • Where will you store the milk? A refrigerator where you can store expressed milk is handy, though you can substitute ice packs and a cooler.
  • Present your plan to your employer and ask for support and problem-solving help where you need it. Even though it's wise to begin with a plan, be flexible enough to make the necessary on- the-job changes. Keep in mind your motto: because you know that breastfeeding makes a difference, you will find a way. Setting up a Corporate Lactation Program

    To make your workplace more breastfeeding-friendly, Medela offers a packet of resources and free advice on setting up a lactation program in your company. Specifically, Medela can help you design lactation lounges, select which breast pumps are best, demonstrate how the employer can subsidize the cost of breast pumps, and show what other employers are doing to make their workplace more friendly to breastfeeding employees. Lactation programs have become more and more popular; more than 80 percent of the corporations listed in. Working Mother magazine's "100 Best companies for Working Women" (October 1998) offer this program to their employees. (For more information on this program, call Medela at 800-435-8316.)

    10. Ease-into the new routine.

    Traditionally, Monday is the day for starting new projects. So consider returning to your job on a Wednesday or a Thursday. You'll be less exhausted when the weekend arrives. Then you'll have two days to rest up before the workday routine begins again.

    Many women arrange to work only three or four days a week while their children are small. With the kind of time that mothers put in caring for babies and children after-hours, they certainly don't have to apologize for not working a full 40-hour week.

    MAKING YOUR WORKING LIFE EASIER

    11. Make your morning getaway easier.
    A baby adds a new wrinkle to the getting-ready-for-work routine. There's more stuff to manage, and more potential interruptions. Here are some tips to help get you to the job on time.
  • Set your alarm early so that you can nurse the baby before you get out of bed. Then you can shower and dress with fewer interruptions.
  • Get things ready the night before: pack the baby's bag, have bottles of milk ready in the refrigerator, make your lunch, pick your clothing, be sure your breast pump is clean and ready to go.
  • Make getting to bed at a reasonable hour a priority.
  • Take the baby to the sitter's in his pajamas.
  • Get a wash-and-go haircut to cut down on time spent in front of the bathroom mirror.
  • If you're not back into your pre-pregnancy wardrobe, invest in a few basic pieces that coordinate with each other and that flatter your new mommy figure. Nothing is worse than starting the day feeling fat, with nothing to wear.
  • Plan to nurse the baby one more time at the sitter's before going to work. Your breasts will be empty and you'll feel more relaxed when you finally arrive on the job.
  • Nursing tip. Calling ahead! A mother shared with us: "Because of my job schedule and unpredictable traffic, I don't always arrive home at the same time. If the time is predictable, I call my caregiver as I am leaving work. Or, if I am stuck in traffic, I call her on my cellular phone and ask her to give my baby just enough milk to tide her over until I get home."

    12. Enjoy a happy departure and a happy reunion.

    Breastfeed your baby at home or at the caregiver's before leaving for work and as soon as you return home. This maximizes your baby's feedings at the breast and minimizes the amount of pumping you'll have to do. Plan ahead for the first return-from-work meeting. Ask your caregiver not to feed baby a bottle within an hour of your anticipated arrival. Arriving with full breasts only to find your baby sound asleep, with a full tummy does not make for a happy mother-baby reunion. If baby is hungry or you're going to be late, instruct your caregiver to feed him just enough to hold him over until you arrive. When you get home from work, take some time to reconnect with your baby. Settle down to breastfeed rather than plunging into household chores. Take the phone off the hook, change into comfortable clothes, turn on relaxing music, and nestle down with your baby in your favorite nursing corner and get reconnected.

    13. Simplify pumping.
    Tucked into a discreet but stylish case, breast pumps are carried to work by thousands of women. At the end of the day, these mothers carry home pumped breast milk for their babies to drink during the next work day. What's wrong with this picture? In the conventional working world, pumps are a fact of life for nursing mothers, and anything that you can do to make pumping easier is worth trying. Here are some ideas that can make pumping less of a hassle.
  • Find a pump that works well for you, since you'll be spending lots of time with this mechanical milker. (See choosing a pump). If you don't like the first pump you try, invest in another one.
  • With a good-quality electric pump, you can pump both breasts at the same time, clean up, and be finished in fifteen to twenty minutes. This alone may justify the price of a higher quality pump.
  • Hand expressing milk or using a less-efficient pump usually takes longer--twenty to thirty minutes.
  • Choose your work wardrobe with a nursing baby in mind. Select prints and loose-fitting blouses that camouflage leaking that may occur as you daydream about your baby during boring meetings. Two-piece outfits give you easier access for pumping and for breastfeeding your baby before you leave for work and during the workday.
  • Many pumps can be washed in the dishwasher at home along with the dinner dishes.
  • If there are days when you don't have enough time for a full session, it's better to pump for five to ten minutes than not at all. Be careful, skipping milk expression sessions regularly will cause your milk supply to dwindle.
  • If your workday tends to be unpredictable, you may have to discipline yourself to make time to express milk at regular intervals. You may also have to ask for the support of your employer and co-workers to make this possible. Don't think of your pumping schedule as an imposition on your freedom. Think of it as an opportunity to become better organized.
  • If you're planning to pump in your office, set up the furniture to give yourself a bit more privacy in case someone barges through the door. A stack of books and papers strategically placed on a corner of the desk may save you and any unexpected visitors some embarrassment.
  • If another woman at your workplace is also pumping milk for her baby, arrange to take your breaks or eat your lunch together while you pump. This can be helpful if you miss the camaraderie of lunch with colleagues.
  • Get some support from other women who are working and nursing. This might be friends from your childbirth class or a local La Leche League Group. (Call the Leader ahead of time and ask if there are working mothers in the group.)
  • Keep in mind that you'll be expressing milk for a relatively short time--not the rest of your working life.
  • Nursing tip. Don't cry over spilled milk. As you're getting used to a routine of collecting and storing milk, be prepared for dropping a bag or two. While it's hard to see your "white gold" go splat on the floor, accidents happen even to the most careful mothers.

    14. Gain the support of your co-workers.
    Your colleagues at work may make comments about your frequent breaks, your pump, the milk stored in the refrigerator, or the time you spend with your baby. This can make some mothers feel uncomfortable and can lead to resentment and problems between co-workers. Here are some suggestions for heading off comments and enlisting the support of the people you work with.
  • Use humor. Laugh off any teasing that comes your way.
  • Endeavor to be discreet in the workplace. Some people are clueless and will never guess what you're keeping in the lunch bag on the refrigerator shelf.
  • Cite a medical reason for continuing to breastfeed, such as "My baby is allergic to formula." (This isn't necessarily a lie, since most babies, we believe, have at least some type of allergy to formula.) By claiming a medical reason, you prevent putting a guilt trip on the co-workers who chose not to continue breastfeeding.
  • Share information about the benefits of breastfeeding, especially the ones that are important to you. ("My husband has terrible allergies, but breastfeeding will lessen the risk of our baby having allergies." Or "Six months old and no ear infections yet!") If you've missed work because of the flu, point out that your baby had only a mild case--or no problems at all--because of the antibodies in your milk.
  • Talk about how breastfeeding at home and pumping at work help you feel connected to your baby.
  • Acknowledge and thank people for the times when they've covered for you while you've been pumping or feeding your baby. Return the favor when they need your help.
  • Listen with sympathetic interest when co-workers share their breastfeeding stories with you-- especially when breastfeeding didn't work out in their families. Acknowledge that they did the best they could under the circumstances.
  • Wow them with facts and figures about breastfeeding, or just tell them that you're continuing to breastfeed because your pediatrician--and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend it.
  • KEEPING UP YOUR MILK SUPPY

    15. During the work day, squeeze in as many breastfeedings as you can.
    Depending on your work hours, most employed mothers can get in at least four breastfeedings during the usual workday -- one early morning feeding before work, a couple evening feedings, and a before- bed feeding. If you are away from your baby from early morning till late afternoon or early evening, the missed feedings could be made up with bottles of your pumped breastmilk given by the caregiver. If you are fortunate enough to have work-based daycare, you may be able to breastfeed your baby during lunch and coffee breaks, cutting down on, or eliminating, the need to express milk and give bottles.

    16. Breastfeed full-time whenever you're not at work.

    In order to maintain and build-up your milk supply, you need to have days when you breastfeed frequently to make up for the times when you and your baby are separated. Try to adopt the policy that baby is given a bottle only while you are at work or away from baby, but is exclusively breastfed when in your care. This will build up a good milk supply and keep the two of you connected. Don't give bottles when you can breastfeed. Pumping does not stimulate the breasts to produce milk as well as a nursing baby does. You need to breastfeed your baby often during the time you are together in order to keep up your milk supply and insure that your baby stays interested in the breast. Many mothers who work the usual Monday-through-Friday, five-day work week, find the amount they are able to pump dwindles toward the end of the week. After nursing frequently all weekend their breasts feel much fuller on Monday and they're able to pump more milk and may even need to express more often to avoid uncomfortable engorgement. (Save this milk for later in the week, when your milk supply may be running low.) After a few weeks of juggling breastfeeding and working schedules, you will be amazed at how your body and your breasts adjust to making just the right amount of milk for your baby.

    17. Enjoy nighttime nursing.
    Breastfed babies who are away from their mothers during the day often nurse more frequently at night. After mother returns to work, some babies reverse their daily patterns by sleeping more and feeding less during the day and then clustering their feedings during the night.

    This is actually a good thing, and mothers who succeed at combining breastfeeding and working recognize this and even welcome it. They bring their babies into their bed so that they can nurse at night without waking up completely, and they treasure this extra opportunity for closeness. (Working fathers like it, too.) In fact, many mothers report that they sleep better with their babies next to them, even if that means baby nurses through the night. Breastfeeding helps mothers unwind, relax, and sleep better, just as it helps babies feel calm and comforted. Also, a long feeding in bed in the early morning, just before it's time to get up, will help baby sleep, or at least be content, while you get ready for work.

    18. You can combine breastfeeding and formula feeding.
    Breastfeeding is not an all-or-nothing deal. While many mothers who combine nursing and working do supply their babies with breastmilk for many months, others use formula as a back-up when they are unable to pump enough milk. In other cases, baby nurses at the breast when mother is available and gets formula when she is not. If this second situation sounds like the direction in which you're headed, give some thought to how you will combine breastfeeding and formula-feeding. Otherwise, you may discover one day, long before you had planned on weaning, that your baby has lost interest in the breast and you don't have much milk anyway.

    Even if you are not expressing and saving milk for your baby while you are at work you still may need to do some pumping to prevent plugged ducts and mastitis and to keep up your milk supply. Some mothers can go for four to six hours without nursing or expressing, but many can't. If you are away from your baby for seven or eight hours, or longer, you will need to pump once or twice even if you don't save the milk. (We can't imagine any mother pumping and dumping that "white gold" routinely, but it would be better than not pumping and winding up with sore, engorged breasts.)

    If you're cutting back on pumping at work, nurse your baby frequently while the two of you are together and avoid long separations other than those related to your job. This includes nursing at night, while you sleep. Give baby lots of skin-to-skin contact and lots of time with you to keep her interested in the breast and to build your prolactin levels. If your baby seems to be losing interest in the breast, you may need to encourage her to nurse more frequently and do some expressing while the two of you are apart so that there is plenty of milk in the breast when baby wants to nurse. If your milk supply seems to be falling off, see Increasing Your Milk Supply or Herbs to Increase Breastmilk.

    LOWERING YOUR STRESS LEVEL

    19. Take care of yourself.
    Faced with the demands of a job and a baby, you may find you can accomplish little else beyond doing your job and taking care of your little one. This is a completely realistic expectation. The one thing you should not neglect is taking care of yourself. Fortunately, breastfeeding can help you do this.

    When you get home from work, head for the bedroom and nurse while you rest lying down. If you and baby can take a short nap, the whole family will have a more pleasant evening. Have a quick and nutritious snack, so that there's no pressure to start dinner right away, and enjoy being with your baby. If you have an older child, include her in this reunion.

    You'll need to simplify your life at home as much as possible, so that you can devote your attention to your baby and the rest of your family, rather than to laundry, shopping, cleaning, cooking, and organizing. By keeping it simple, your mate can more happily do his share. If you can afford it, you can pay someone to do many of these tasks for you. Some things--like washing windows or ironing clothes--you can simply ignore for a few years. While you're working around the house, carry baby in a baby sling so that you can enjoy some time together while you water the plants or sort laundry.

    20. Share the childcare and the chores.

    If mother makes all of the milk and some of the money, dad needs to share in the childcare and housework. Breastfeeding while working is a family enterprise. Explain to your partner the benefits of continued breastfeeding. School- age children should also share in the housework. This is good modeling for when they become working parents. In fact, you model a double message: the importance of breastfeeding and the benefits of working together as a family. With breastfeeding and working, you simply "can't have it all." You will not have enough energy to make milk, money, dinner, and make love every night. Delegate all the household chores that could be done by someone else other than you. Discuss these responsibilities with your partner and with older children in a family meeting. Try to shave, or share, as many of the energy-drainers as you can.

    Giving your baby your milk for as long as you can is one of the best investments in your child's medical, emotional, and intellectual future.

    nuring room at work image

    Breastfeeding And Returning To Work - Courtesy of ProMom

    There are several options open to mothers who wish to continue breastfeeding while working at a job that requires separation between mother and baby for several hours a day. First, and best for both mother and baby, is for the baby's day care provider to be located close enough to the mother's workplace for her to breastfeed the baby directly during regularly scheduled breaks. More and more firms are providing on-site or nearby day care, and are finding that the benefits for employee morale and retention make the investment worthwhile.

    Second, a mother can use her break times to express her milk and bring it to the day-care provider for feeding the following day. If a mother chooses this option, she will need either to learn hand-expression technique or to rent or buy a good quality double pump. She will also need a few minutes of privacy two to three times a day. If refrigeration is not available at the workplace, storage in a cooler with "blue ice" is sufficient to preserve the milk until it can be refrigerated in the evening.

    Third, a mother can breastfeed her baby when they are together and use formula when they are separated. Most mothers who try this find that their breasts quickly adjust to the daily separation, and that they have a sufficient supply for the evenings and weekends if the baby is allowed frequent access to their breasts when they are together.

    Some employers may need to be educated about the benefits of breastfeeding. Medela, a company that makes high-quality breast pumps, has an educational packet setting forth the cost savings to employers if their employees breastfeed their babies.

    Many women are pleased and surprised to find their employers very accommodating in providing a place and time to pump or feed a baby. Often, the only reason there is no explicit policy permitting pumping or breastfeeding during work breaks is because no-one has yet asked. And don't forget that in some states (Florida and Texas are in the lead on this), state law encourages employers to accommodate the needs of their employees who are breastfeeding.

    Here is a sample letter, written to the human resources manager at a large work site, which worked: the employee's need for a private and clean place to pump was accommodated. (*There is also another sample letter available at ProMoM.)

    Dear [Human Resources Manager],

    This is a letter to express what I feel is an important issue and to propose what I think is a viable solution. Given the number of women who work here of child-bearing age and the lack of available space in the building, privacy for nursing mothers presents a problem.

    Currently, there is no facility in the building appropriate for women who need to pump breast milk. Prior to the critical space problems, women used empty offices and put out "do not disturb" signs. Currently, the only alternatives for those of us without private offices are the bathrooms or locker rooms. These facilities are not adequate or appropriate for this purpose for the following reasons:
    • Unsanitary conditions (this is food for a newborn).
    • Lack of privacy (pumping is a very personal and sometimes difficult process; quiet and privacy are absolutely necessary).
    • Feasibility (you need somewhere to set up a pump, something to hold collection bottles, a surface on which to package the milk, and a place to sit).

    I propose that the company set aside one office with several private areas partitioned off to be used by nursing mothers. This will provide not only the obvious benefits to the new mother and the new baby, but some distinct benefits to the company:

    • A breast-fed baby is a healthier baby. Healthier babies mean fewer medical expenses, which is a tremendous financial incentive for a self-insured company. In addition, a healthier baby means less stay-at-home days for mom.
    • An employee with fewer concerns for the welfare of her child is more able to fully focus on her job.
    • An employee with a convenient, sanitary, and private location for pumping will have more options in scheduling her day (for example, not having to take long lunches to drive home).

    To set up a basic facility, the following things would be needed:

    • A small room with a lock on the door and several keys to issue to those using the room.
    • Partitions or curtains to make 2 or 3 privacy areas.
    • A chair and table for each privacy area.
    • In addition, it would be helpful to have a small sink and refrigerator in the room, as well as an electrical outlet in each privacy area.

    I hope that you will consider my proposal and see what a valuable contribution this small change can make in the quality of life for a significant number of our employees. I estimate that there are probably 3 nursing women in the building at almost all times. Another company in this area has set up an excellent facility for nursing mothers and is leading a trend in corporate America. [Additional examples here.] I would like to see our company stay on the cutting edge of providing a healthy work environment and excellent benefits for employees. I believe this would be a step in that direction.

    Please let me know if you have any questions or if this proposal is more appropriately directed to our site management or facilities department. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Sincerely, [employee's name here]



    I hope that I have given you some ideas about how to go about breastfeeding after returning to work. If you have any other questions, contact La Leche League International, the Nursing Mothers Council, the National Childbirth Trust (U.K) or the Nursing Mothers Association of Australia . All of these organizations have additional information about such issues as hand expressing human milk, obtaining and using breast pumps, storing and using expressed breastmilk, and other questions pertaining to working and breastfeeding.