Back to work, Expressing Milk and Breastfeeding

by MuminBusiness

Are you considering going back to work and wondering how to continue breastfeeding? Expressing milk is an option for you.

Having to go back to work can be a very difficult decision to make. If you are like me, then before you got pregnant, you were certain that you would return to work within weeks of giving birth with no qualms.

The reality I found to be considerably more difficult than that.

Once you start to carry a baby and by the end of the pregnancy, it is surprising how changed you are as a person and how much you want to stay at home with the baby. Considering going back to work becomes a source of stress, especially if you are breastfeeding.

The breastfeeding relationship is so intimate that you cannot imagine going to work and leaving your baby with someone else. How will they feed without you?

Once you get past all the emotions of the situation, learning to combine your career with being a nursing mother is not too difficult.

Becoming a breastfeeding, working mother.

Regardless of what others may feel about your ability to work and breastfeed, it is not actually a new concept.  Mothers have carried worked with their babies in tow for aeons, the difference is that now there is something of a taboo about it.  In today's working environments, it is not considered professional to bering a child to work, except in very few workplaces.

There are all kinds of rules of health and safety and more that also exclude children from the workplace.  Being a mother can sometimes make a woman feel less capable of doing her job.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

To start with, you must read the book by Gale Pryor.  She goes into the philosophy of being a nursing, working mother as well as helping you with all the practical bits as well.  I discovered this book after my third pregnancy and wished I had seen it earlier.  It is so practical and helpful in working through any concerns that may come to mind.

Nursing Mother Working Mother

Nursing Mother, Working Mother, Revised Edition
$18.02  $18.01

Day Care

One of the things to consider first would be who will take care of the baby while you are gone.

This is a broad subject so I cannot go into that much detail here.  There are however a few options available to you.

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Mom Swaps - Where you and another mom come to an arrangement and look after each other's children.  This only works if your work schedules are opposing.
  • In Home Care (Nanny/Babysitter/Au pair) - A primary caregiver looks after your chid in a family home
  • Family Daycare (childminders) - One primary caregiver looks after about 6 children within their home.  They may have an assistant.  It should be like home away from home.
  • Daycare Centers - There can be a considerable number of children in this kind of setting.  There will also be a lot of carers.

These are most of more usual options available to you.

Expressing and Storing Breastmilk

Do you need to express your milk?

You may not need to if you are only going into work for about four hours a day and if your baby is older than four months.

If you are returning to full time work, do not feel overwhelmed by the prospect. Expressing becomes a habit that you get used to. When thinking about it, you can make the thought of it a lot more complicated than the actual act of expressing.

The other thing to remember is that if you tried to express when your baby was just born, you may feel like expressing milk does not work for you as you may not have had that much milk in the early stages.  Expressing is an art that improves the more you do it, so please do try again.

What is your work schedule like? These are your options for expressing milk

Less than 20 hours a week and more than four hours at a time

Express Manually if required

Hand Pump

Battery Operated Pump

More than 20 hours a week

Electric Pump - Personal or Rental Pump

Variable Schedule

Express Manually if necessary

Electric Pump

Portable Rental Pump

Do you travel away from home

Electric Pump

Portable Rental Pump

 (Summarised from Nursing Mother, Working Mother By Gale Pryor and Kathleen Huggins)

The table gives you an idea of the options available when considering the purchase of a pump.  A portable pump should include a battery pack so that you can use it wherever you are.  

For more information on your options, please do get a copy of the book - Nursing mother, Working Mother.

My experience of Expressing and Storing Milk

Sometimes, mothers feel that going back to work means that they should start to prepare themselves and their child before the date of returning to work.  You might feel that you have to start to reduce feeds before the return date.  This is not the case.  Babies cope when their mothers are not around.  They sometimes cope better with moving on to a bottle when there is no sight or sound or smell of their mothers.  This might seem counter-intuitive to start with but you will discover that babies are less likely to choose a bottle if you are in sight. 

Start to express and store your milk about four weeks before your return to work.  Fit this in with your feeding of the baby.  

I expressed once a day for the month before going back to work.  I got the idea from the book - Nursing Mother, Working Mother and made the schedule my own.

Every night, I take my AVENT Manual Breast Pump up to bed with me.  As soon as I awoke in the morning, I would sit up and express milk from one side only.  That way, if the baby woke, I could feed easily from the second side.  I expressed for 10 mins at least.  To start, I only got about 2 ounces which slowly built up to between 3 and 5 ounces.

While sitting up in bed, I sometimes expressed for a second time after the baby finished feeding and also made sure the baby fed on the expressed side in order to completely empty the breast.

And that was my only pumping session each day.

At the end of the 4 week period, I had collected about 84 ounces of milk.  The milk collected each morning was stored in one of the Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags and kept them in the freezer.

This is how I managed to express enough milk to cope with going back to work.

Updated: 04/11/2012, MuminBusiness
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Rose on 01/29/2014

That chart on how much to express is really helpful

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