For many new moms, going back to work can be one of the most difficult things they will do. No matter the amount of maternity leave they have taken, leaving their baby can cause heartbreak, stress, and extra duties. However, taking the time to plan for this milestone and paying extra attention to self-care and your emotional needs can make this transition smoother.
Choosing a Caregiver
Selecting a caregiver for your baby that you feel comfortable with will make a big difference in how you feel about returning to work. There are many different options, from having your partner or other family member care for your baby to a private or shared nanny to formal day car options. Exploring these options and their pros and cons will help you make the decision that is right for you and your baby. For your breastfeeding success, it is important to select a caregiver that is supportive to breastfeeding. They should be willing to follow protocols when it comes to handling, warming, storing, and feeding breastmilk. They should also encourage you and make you feel good about your decision to return to work and breastfeed.
Whether your maternity leave was 10 days, three months, six months, or anywhere in between, starting back on a Monday can potentially make your return harder. Experts agree that it is best to try to make your first day back on a Wednesday or a Thursday. This gives you just a couple days away from your baby, and then the weekend to process how it went and get ready for the next full week ahead.
Continuing to give breastmilk to your baby when going back to work is an important way to stay connected. It can be difficult, but is also very rewarding and offers many benefits to you and your baby. Several weeks before going back to work it is important to practice with your pump to make sure you know how to use it and that it works for you. If you are working full time, it is best to use a double electric pump in order to decrease the amount of time you will need to pump and to keep your milk supply up. [Check out our great pumping bra here!]
You should also check with the breastfeeding laws in your state. Most employers are required to provide pumping moms with a clean and private place to pump their breastmilk and it cannot be a restroom. Ideally, they should also provide a refrigerator where you can store your pumped milk. However, if they do not, an insulated bag with some ice packs will keep it cool enough for several hours.
Continuing to Breastfeed
While pumping is important at work, nursing your baby will still be important while you are with him or her. You can nurse before going to work in the morning, when you come home from work, during the night and on weekends or your other days off. This will increase your bond with your baby and help your body keep an adequate supply.
Although going back to work after having a new baby can be logistically and emotionally challenging, it can certainly be done with some forethought and planning. If you need additional support or tips with returning to work and breastfeeding, talk to your partner, lactation consultant, pediatrician, or counselor.