Breastfeeding and Returning to Work

Breastfeeding may take on even greater significance for you and your baby once you've returned to work.  There is no better way for the two of you to reconnect after a long separation, and there is no better way for a frazzled mother to unwind.  Your baby will need the anti-infective properties of breastmilk even more now that he is in daycare, and exposed to the germs of his new friends.  Continuing to breastfeed after returning to work requires planning and time, but is well worth the investment.

You will need to express your milk while you are away from your baby in order to keep your breasts from becoming uncomfortably full, and to maintain your milk supply. The milk you express while away from your baby can be given to him the next time you need to be apart.

How often and when you will need to express will depend on several factors, the most important one being how much time you are away from your baby. If commuting time is significant, try to find a caregiver near your job. You may even be able to go nurse during breaks. If you will be away for only a few hours you may not need to express at all during your working hours. Nurse your baby immediately before leaving for work and on returning home. In that case, you can express milk to leave with the caregiver whenever it is convenient for you. A mother who is working full time should express at work.  Milk expressed at work can be kept in a cooler or the office refrigerator until taken home, where it will be stored for later use.

Mothers should prepare themselves for the return to work a few weeks ahead of time by choosing their mode of expressing milk and practicing it. Today, women have a huge selection of breast pumps to choose from. Find out which pump is best for you before investing your money. Some women prefer hand expression, which also needs to be learned and practiced to be most efficient.

Many women are reluctant to feed their baby with a bottle for fear that it will disrupt breastfeeding.  Check out how to bottle-feed a breastfed baby, and make sure to inform your caregiver how you want your baby to be fed.  To avoid overfeeding, make sure that bottle feeds take at least 10 to 20 minutes, and that your caregiver uses the bottle only for feeds and not for comforting.

Some babies eat very little away from their mothers, and then make up for it at home. If you find that your baby is nursing more often at night, he is most likely making up for lost time and contact with you. You will have to work out ways to get the sleep you need while baby gets the mothering time he needs.

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