Going back to work after having a baby can be completely overwhelming. Not only do you have to leave your brand new baby, but you have to start new routines, figure out how to juggle the workload of home, work, and now parenthood, and when you’re breastfeeding, you have to figure out how to manage your supply.
If you’re breastfeeding and going back to work, here are some ideas for ways to maintain your milk supply:
Know your Rights
Did you know that, thanks to the PUMP Act, most employers are required to provide you with adequate time to pump, and reasonable accommodations in which to do so? It’s true!
Start Pumping Before You Return
You don’t want to wait until you’re back at work to start your pumping routine. In fact, the earlier you start getting acquainted with your pump, the better and easier it will be. There are a lot of solid ways to start incorporating the pump into your breastfeeding routine. You’ll find a lot of articles and experts (hint: we love @pump_momma_pump on Instagram!) to help you, but don’t hesitate to reach out to your lactation consultant or counselor for support, as well.
Contact your Employer
Instead of starting back to work overwhelmed and unsure of what to do, reach out to your boss and your HR department before you return. You may want to:
- Find out what the accommodations are, and the location
- Figure out where you can store your breast pump, and clean your supplies between sessions
- Ask about how you can fit your needed pumping breaks into your work schedule
- Express any concerns you have about returning or a lack of support
- Inquire about alternative work schedules that may help you adjust back easier
- See if your employer’s benefits cover breast pumps, lactation support, etc.
Establish a Schedule
Once you return, you’ll need to decide from day one how to fit pumping into your work routine. If you’ve had a conversation with your boss before returning, hopefully, you’ll feel prepared. If you’re more in control of your own work calendar, follow the schedule that you’ve been used to with your baby as closely as you can to help mirror your body’s expectations.
Plan to Eat (and Drink!)
Now, more than ever, it’s vital that you eat enough and have proper nutrition. Starting to pump more than you feed on demand can impact your milk supply, and getting enough calories and water is crucial. Plan your meals, bring food with you – don’t leave your meals and snacks up to chance. Bessie’s snacks are always a great option – throw a bag of pretzels or granola in your desk, and some individually wrapped cookies in your pump bag so you’re never without.
The CDC also has some great resources to help you navigate this tough time.
We know: it seems like a lot. And to be honest, at first, it probably will be. Eventually, you’ll move into your new routines and your new normals so that you can continue to feed your baby and provide for your family at the same time.
Good luck – you’ve got this!