Returning to work for a breastfeeding woman often raises many doubts and questions. Will it negatively affect lactation? How will the baby react to a few hours of mom’s absence? Each family’s situation is different, and it is difficult to find universal solutions here. However, one thing is certain — returning to work while continuing to breastfeed is possible.
Much depends on the age of the baby separated from the mother for the time of work. The need for breast milk changes over time. Remember that in the first six months, it is recommended to feed an infant on demand, striving to feed exclusively with breast milk. After 6 months, the baby’s diet is gradually expanding and, over time, the baby will partially satisfy its hunger with regular foods. Some babies willingly accept new flavors, while others get used to them slowly, thus, the demand for mother’s milk is variable during this period.
When the baby is around one year old, it is determined that the mother’s milk provides about 40% of the caloric requirement. Regular meals are often already a significant source of calories. Returning to work after a baby’s first birthday usually involves leaving one or a few portions of milk or using HiPP organic or another baby formula, while some babies manage without it during the mother’s absence.
How to Prepare to Return to Work after Maternity Leave?
Start by talking to your loved ones — the child’s dad, grandma, grandpa, or babysitter. Let them know that you intend to continue breastfeeding and their support is essential. Thanks to good cooperation and established rules, it will be easier for all of you to cope with a new situation.
- Get the baby used to your absence. It is worth leaving your child under someone’s care for at least a few weeks before returning to work. Increase the time of your absence gradually. Never leave the house secretly, and when you come back, always say hello to your child. Then your infant will know that you will always come back and continue to build your bond.
- Plan a new diet and feeding rhythm for your baby. Introduce it gradually, at least three weeks before the planned return to work. Plan your baby’s weekly menu, meal times, and composition. Practice a new ritual with your baby every day to make it feel safe while you are away.
- Before you go to work, you can leave some of your milk so that your partner, grandparents, or babysitter can give it to the baby when you are not around. After returning from work, you can breastfeed your baby on request or try to set feeding times that are convenient for you.
- You must realize that the quality of contact with your baby matters. Breastfeeding stimulates intimacy, but by spending time with your baby, you can develop your bond in various ways.
How to Feed the Baby?
Here are several tips:
- Start getting used to pumping well in advance.
- Two weeks before returning to work, gradually start weaning your baby at times when you will later be away from home.
- During your planned absence, give your baby milk from a bottle, at first every second day, then every day.
- At work, pump in a quiet, secluded place, preferably at a fixed time.
- Store expressed milk in the fridge. In such a case, the father, nanny, or grandma will be able to give it to your little one the next day.
- If you have problems expressing milk with a breast pump, give your baby a baby formula purchased in the organic baby formula shop during the day, and breastfeed in the morning, evening, and at night.
Maintaining a work-life balance is valuable for breastfeeding. Thanks to it, your body will quickly accept changes for the benefit of your professional development and the maintenance of lactation.