Lessons learned as a new breastfeeding mother returning to work

Being a working mother is tough. Here are some tips to help you continue to breastfeed through this challenging transition.

It’s tough to be a working mom! Leaving your baby in the care of someone else while you go back to work may be one of the hardest things you ever have to do. While learning how to be a parent, you also have to learn how to be the new you with lots of new responsibilities and challenges along the way. Breastfeeding can be one of those challenges, but there are many things that can help to get us through and continue to be a happy mom and most importantly, have a happy baby.

We have all been told that breastmilk is nature’s perfect food for infants for multitudes of different reasons. What we haven’t been told and what people don’t really talk about is how to fit breastfeeding and pumping into this new routine once we go back to work. Here are some things that I learned along the way:

  • Pumping takes practice. I mistakenly thought that when you hook yourself up to pump there would be enough milk to feed my infant; probably filling a bottle each time I pumped. For most women, that is not the case, especially at first. It takes practice and patience.
  • The amount of milk you pump fluctuates. This can be from day-to-day and even by pumping session to pumping session. Stress can cause you to produce less or have a harder time letting down as well. Look at the amount you get for the whole day rather than each session.
  • Make sure you have a good quality pump and that it is working correctly. At one point I found that I wasn’t getting as much milk as I previously had been and after much frustration and research found out that my pump was defective. Once I got a new pump, things worked much more smoothly.
  • Talk to others. Contact your local Michigan State University Extension office and find out if they have a breastfeeding peer counselor on staff. WIC and your local hospital should also be able to point you in the right direction. Find friends that are or have breastfed and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I have found that just spending some time talking to a friend when I am frustrated has made me realize that things aren’t so bad and my struggles are really worth it. If you don’t know someone who has breastfed, there are also many supportive online mother’s groups that you can post questions and chat with other breastfeeding moms.
  • Schedule the time to pump. Work schedules get hectic very quickly, especially when you have been away for an extended period of time. I have found that planning to pump at the same times everyday, with as few exceptions as possible helps make it part of my new normal.
  • Relax. Find a space to pump that is quiet where you can focus on your job at hand. I also found that recording a video of my baby nursing and playing that while I pumped helped me to relax and let down much faster. Even looking at a picture of your little bundle of joy can help get you into the relaxed mode and make pumping go more smoothly.

Last, but most definitely not least, breastfeeding is worth every struggle. Remember that you are doing a great job taking care of you and your baby. For more information on breastfeeding, visit MSU Extension.

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