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
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
- 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
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!
- 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.
- 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
- Explore your options. Consider these alternatives to spending the entire
day away from your baby:
- Bring your baby to work. This may not be possible on an industrial assembly line,
but there are many workplaces that can accommodate the presence of an infant.
We've known mothers who work in shops, in offices, in family businesses, and in
other settings who have just packed up baby and brought her along when it's time to
return to the job after a postpartum leave. Breastfed babies are very portable.
Arrange a safe and comfortable place for naps, diaper changes, and floor play, and
you'll be all set.
- Try work and wear. Wear your baby in a sling-type carrier to keep baby close to you
while you assist customers, sort papers, work at the computer, or even attend
meetings. You may have to work a longer day or accept less pay to make up for job
time spent attending to your baby, but you'll save on the expense of childcare and
there will be less emotional wear and tear on mother and baby. Eventually, when
your "sling baby" becomes a toddler explorer, you may have to make other
arrangements, but by then, baby will not be depending on you for all her nutritional
- Bring the work to your baby. Working from home is becoming more and more
common in these days of telecommuting. Even working at home one or two days a
week and going into the office the rest of the time will give you more time to
breastfeed your baby on cue. Some mothers who work from home concentrate on
working during baby's naps, or they go to bed late or get up early. Some manage to
work with baby nearby or even in their laps. (Watch out for little fingers hitting the
computer keyboard!) Others find they need in-home childcare when they simply
must get something accomplished--but mother is still available for nursing as needed.
- On-site day care. Family-friendly employers are increasingly making childcare
available at the workplace. With this option, you can just go to another part of the
building to breastfeed your baby on breaks or at lunch time. Daycare workers can
call you when baby is hungry, or you can let them know when you'll be in to visit
during the day.
- Nearby daycare providers. Many parents look for childcare near their homes.
Sometimes it's more practical to look for a baby-sitter near your workplace,
especially if you have a long commute that adds an hour or more to the total time
you're away from your baby. With daycare near your workplace, you may be able to
go to your baby and nurse one or more times during the day. You can also nurse the
baby at the sitter's, or daycare center, before and after work. This will cut down
on the amount of pumping you need to do while separated from your baby.
- Visits from your baby. Maybe it's possible for your baby to come and visit you while
you're working, during your lunch break or at other times during the day. Mothers
who make this option work for them often have dad or grandma as chief childcare
provider--someone who's willing to go an extra mile (literally) for baby's health and
happiness. Perhaps you could meet your caregiver and baby at a convenient lunch
spot half-way between home and your workplace.
- Part-time work. Minimizing the time you spend away from your baby will make
breastfeeding easier. Many mothers plan on working only part-time while their
children are small--either shorter work days or fewer shifts per week. Others ease
back into a full-time schedule slowly as they and their babies are ready.
- 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
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- Hand expressing milk or using a less-efficient pump usually takes longer--twenty to thirty
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Enjoy nighttime nursing.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.