Returning to Work While Breastfeeding
Are you ready for the emotional task of returning to work after your maternity leave? On top of that, are you ready to continue breast pumping when you go back? This may be a little more emotional and require a bit of extra planning than expected, but with our tips, you’ll be prepared to head back to work with confidence.
Talking To HR About Breast Pumping
If you feel anxious about breast pumping on the job, just remember that it’s your right and you’re protected by law. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for their child up to one year after their birth.
Employers are also required to provide a private space that is separate from a bathroom and free of the intrusion of the public or coworkers for the purpose of expressing breastmilk.
Even though you’re protected by the law, don’t wait until the last minute to bring up your plans to breast pump at work. Give your employer enough time in advance to prepare the facility for breast pumping by creating a lactation room if needed.
Before your maternity leave or a few weeks before returning to work, set up a meeting with your HR representative or manager to bring up the topic of breastfeeding. This will allow you to discuss the current lactation policy, explain what you need, and create a flexible pumping schedule.
It may also help to mention the benefits of breastfeeding. The natural vitamins, proteins, and nutrients in breast milk help protect babies from respiratory infections, ear infections, asthma, SIDS, and much more. Plus, breastfeeding helps moms heal more quickly after giving birth, lowers the risk for type 2 diabetes, and certain types of breast and ovarian cancers.
Employers also benefit from supporting breastfeeding moms with decreased turnover rates, lower health insurance costs, fewer days of missed work, increased workforce positivity, and more.
How To Successfully Breast Pump At Work
Again, don’t wait until the last minute. Plan for your return by taking your infant into the office for a visit. While you’re there scope out the pumping room to see what you need. See if there is an outlet for you to power your pump with or if you’ll need batteries. Check if there’s a mini-fridge for milk storage or will you need to bring a cooler with ice packs.
Then practice your routine. See how long it takes you to pack your breast pump supplies while getting ready for work. If you aren’t a morning person, consider packing your items the night before. Also, it can be helpful to have an extra set of pumping supplies in your car or office in case you forget something at home.
Look at your wardrobe to make sure you’re prepared to pump at work. See if you have shirts that will allow you to pump without having to get totally undressed. Button downs and scoop necks are best for easy access.
Avoid drips and spills. You don’t want to walk around in wet clothes if an accident occurs. Keep a backup outfit on hand in case you need to change, carry wet wipes for quick cleanups, and use a towel to protect your clothes during pumping sessions.
If possible, try to return to work during the middle of the week or with a half-day at first to ease into the routine. Slowly work up to your normal workload as well. Remember, you’re still healing and you may be hit by a few emotional waves due to being away from baby.
Bring photos of your baby for your desk and an item of their clothing that smells like them to help stimulate your milk flow. Also, take breaks if needed. Step out to call your babysitter for updates and even talk to your little one to cope with missing them.
Don’t forget snacks and remember to stay hydrated. Your body needs enough calories to provide enough nutrition for your needs after feeding baby. Place nutritious items such as fruits, veggies, and granola bars in your breastfeeding bag and always have your water bottle nearby.
And most importantly, learn how to say no. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many projects and expectations. You’re much busier now than you were before. You don’t have to go to after-work events or on every single retreat. Go ahead and get back home to enjoy bonding with your baby. You’ll be back in a normal routine that involves working and caring for your new bundle of joy before you know it!
All content published on the Motif Medical site is credited for information purposes only. This information should not substitute as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your doctor or qualified health professional with any questions regarding the health of you or your baby.