We know that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is highly recommended for newborns. Yet, could there be more of a conflict between feeding-on-demand, and the demands of the 8-hour workday?
Working mothers struggle to juggle their work, sleep and breastfeeding while away from the child.
If you’re a working mom who’s absolutely committed to breastfeeding, here’s help.
Pump up the effort: Explore your options early on.
In other words, don’t cross the bridge when you come to it.
If you intend to continue breastfeeding exclusively even after you start work, you can consider pumping and storage of breast milk as a viable alternative. Explore models on the market for —
- Mechanical/ Manual Breast Pumps – Less expensive, but more tedious and time-consuming
- Electric Breast Pumps – These are great for pumping and storing bigger quantities. It involves very little labour on your end. A hospital-grade double pump is even better to get the job done in half the time!
While there are several brands available, Medela is highly recommended by new mothers and lactation experts alike. They also have variants for mothers who wish to pump and feed simultaneously.
Philips also has a range of manual and electric breast pumps that mimic the natural action of suckling and are very gentle on the breast.
At work, set up a pumping schedule, lobby for and secure a safe spot for pumping and storage.
The Next Step: How To Store Breast Milk:
Storage rules for breast milk have been laid out. Milk can be stored for up to four hours at room temperature and well beyond 24 hours in the refrigerator. Be sure to use the storage accessories provided along with your breast pump.
Chart: La Leche League International
One problem you are likely to face with pumping occasionally as opposed to feeding regularly is breast engorgement and pain. You can speak to your lactation consultant for breastfeeding tips that make it easier on you.
Alternatives To Breast Milk: Should You Switch To Formula?
For many people, formula milk is not an easy choice to make. Coupled with the fact that makers of formula may advertise it as a superior alternative,  you may be left confused as to what the right choice would be for your baby.
Indeed, when available, breast milk is best. However, sometimes, the milk you pump or even produce may be insufficient, leaving you with no choice but to discuss alternative sources of nutrition with your pediatrician. In such cases, the secondary caregiver (mom, MIL, nanny, husband) needs to know that the infant might need to be fed formula.
Ask your pediatrician about the best options of formula that you can introduce to your child, and about how to deal with resistance to being fed a medium other than your breast milk. Do take some time out before the end of your maternity leave to enable your baby’s smooth transition to bottle feeding (either breast milk or formula).
In case you find pumping and storage non-viable, you may wish to substitute all daytime feedings with formula while you are away, and then feed breast milk exclusively while you are at home, for as long as you can.
Most importantly, don’t stress out! If you do, it’ll just tire you out and that’s no good, is it?
Do you have a breastfeeding/ pumping story or tips for other moms? What efforts or adjustments did you have to make in order to find a safe place to pump? Do comment below or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
- What are the LLLI guidelines for storing my pumped milk?, La Leche League International
- UN human rights experts urge countries to increase efforts to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, and end inappropriate marketing of breast-milk substitutes. World Health Organization.