Leaving your infant to return to work or school is emotional, to say the least. Continuing to breastfeed is the best thing you can do for your baby, but for some, can add to the stress. Learn tips that can help ease the transition and support your breastfeeding goals.
Talking with your Employer or School
By Colorado law employers MUST provide breastfeeding women with private space (that is not a toilet stall) and time to express milk at work. Employers may not discriminate against women for expressing milk in the workplace.
Before maternity leave, while you’re pregnant, is the best time to start the conversation with your employer or school about your plans for after your baby arrives, including your plan to breastfeed. Most managers will be happy to support you, but the sooner they know your needs, the more helpful they can be. Here are some tips:
- Tell your employer or school that your doctor recommends that you continue to breastfeed your baby. Let them know you’ll use your usual breaks and lunch period to express milk.
- Create a lactation and work plan and share it with your employer or school.
- Give your employer or school a copy of the Boulder County breastfeeding toolkit for employers.
- Nominate your employer or school to receive funding to create a lactation room at your worksite or school.
- After your baby arrives, bring them to work to meet your co-workers. This will help them to be more understanding when you need to take breaks to express milk.
Building Milk Supply & Stockpiling
Getting breastfeeding off to a good start in the first month will help you to have more options later. Here are some strategies.
- Breastfeed exclusively before you go back to work or school so your body will build a strong foundation for making milk.
- Learn how to recognize feeding cues and breastfeed whenever your baby shows feeding cues, or at least 8-12 times every 24 hours.
- Avoid using bottles or pacifiers during the first month so baby becomes a pro at breastfeeding.
- Begin collecting and freezing extra milk (1-3 ounces) about 3-4 weeks before your first day back at work.
- Continue breastfeeding once bottles are started. One of the best ways to keep making enough milk is to nurse your baby often when you are together.
- If you’re going to be away from your baby for more than a couple of hours, you’re probably going to want to express your milk. Count the number of times your baby usually breastfeeds every 24 hours. This is your “magic” number to keep steady once you return to work.
- For example, if your baby usually breastfeeds 10 times every 24 hours, you will need to either breastfeed or express your milk a total of 10 times every 24 hours once you are back at work. This might mean you breastfeed 6 times and express milk 4 times for a total of 10, or once every 2 hours or so. Keeping your magic number steady will ensure your milk production stays high, even when you are away from your baby.
- Try to take at least 6 weeks maternity leave, if possible, so you will fully recover from childbirth and you and your baby get breastfeeding off to a good start.
- If you must return to work or school sooner, call your Women, Infants, & Children (WIC) peer counselor or a lactation consultant for ways to keep your milk production strong.
- Remember: every drop of your milk is important! Be proud of any amount of breastfeeding you and your baby can enjoy.