World Breastfeeding Month: Week Three - Going back to work!

One of the most important situations breastfeeding mothers face involves going back to work. For moms who are returning to the work force, it is important providers discuss pumping at work and the transition to feeding pumped breastmilk. Each situation is different and requires a team approach.

Employers are required to provide moms with a private place to pump other than a restroom. This area should be isolated from other employees and provide mom the privacy she needs for pumping. This space does not need to be a permanent lactation room. However, it is most helpful for moms to have a room that remains set up for lactating mothers. This area would include a comfy chair, small fridge, table, electrical outlet, and access to water.  If the business is very small, one option is for the manager to provide mom with their office throughout the day.

Providers should discuss with parents feeding options for when mom returns to work. Mom should also be aware of how to use their pump. Most insurance companies provide moms with a free pump once the child is born (some will provide during the pregnancy). Moms should make certain they have correct flanges and ideally, they should use a double pump at work for increased milk supply.

Moms should be encouraged to pump scheduled when their baby would normally eat. For example, if your child eats every 3 hours, moms should strive to pump every 3 hours. This can typically be accomplished with pumping at 9am, noon (or their lunch break) and 3pm.  In order to build up a “freezer stash” moms can initiate pumping about 1-2 weeks prior to returning to work. Typically, moms can pump once per day to help build their supply.

Prior to pumping it is helpful to review breastmilk storage guidelines. If your child is staying in a facility, staff should be trained on handling breastmilk and have protocols in place for utilization. If a relative is keeping your child, it can be helpful to review the normal storage and handling guidelines with the caregiver.

It is important for moms to not become discouraged if their supply drops slightly when they return to work. However, moms should consult an IBCLC if the supply continues to drop or they do not see their supply return to normal quickly after the transition. Keep in mind, though, most mothers will notice a drop in supply towards the end of the day.

There are many options for helping stimulate mom’s supply. Fenugreek, mother’s milk tea, lactation cookies, and power pumping can all be utilized to increase a mom’s supply. Also, moms who massage during pumping can produce 50% more milk during pumping.

As you make the transition back to work, it is important to realize you have community support. This is a team effort. If any issues arise, please seek out resources to assist you with a positive breastfeeding and pumping experience.

Additional Resources:

Storage and Handling of Breastmilk-

Increasing Milk Supply-

Helping a Breastfeeding Baby Accept a Bottle-

Ivy M. Bagley MSN FNP IBCLC Ms. Bagley, a family nurse practitioner for 12 years, enjoys seeing patients of all ages at Children’s Health Services. She is a board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) who works with breastfeeding moms/babies through office visits and their online breastfeeding support group. She recently obtained a Certificate of Advanced Education in Obesity Medicine. She is an active member in OMA, AANP, ICLA, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, and within the community. Recently, she began an online group, “Blessed and Healthy Families,” with the goal of educating families on overall health and well being. She has a specific focus on obesity. Ms. Bagley owns Creative Blessings Photography and serves many local groups through her photography. She enjoys her family and spending time traveling. Her life verse is “All things work together for those who love The Lord." Romans 8:28 God Bless!

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