Often the best solutions to the challenges of combining breastfeeding and employment are the creative ones. Consider these alternatives to spending the entire day away from your baby. Keep
in mind that your plans may change as your baby grows and develops.
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. There are
mothers who work in shops, offices, family businesses, and in other settings who have
just packed up and brought baby 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 child
care 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 needs.
Bring the work to your baby. Working from home is becoming more and more common in
these days of telecommuting. Perhaps you can arrange to complete some, or all, of your tasks
at home. 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 daycare. 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 babysitter 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 home or at the day
care 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
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.
Try something new. For some women, having a baby becomes a career turning point as well
as a personal one, as they make changes in their working lives to accommodate the needs of
their child. Some begin a freelance career, others start their own business or go back to
Learn to live with less. A careful reevaluation of your financial situation may show you that
it's possible to live more cheaply. Full-time employment outside the home brings its own
expenses: childcare, commuting, clothing, conveniences. Many couples re-evaluate their
lifestyles and their job commitments during the years that their children are young. You may
decide that you're willing to trade some of your income for less stress and more relaxed time
with your baby.