Going back to work after a long break is hard. Going back to work after maternity leave is harder, especially if it’s your first time. I remember it vividly, going back to teaching after a long, sleepless, unpaid 12-week maternity leave. I remember thinking, “It can’t be time. My baby is not old enough for me to leave her. I’m not ready to stop breastfeeding.”
The harsh reality is, it’s time. It is also messy, inconvenient, awkward, and uncomfortable. On the bright side, for those that choose to breastfeed, you don’t have to stop just because you’re going back to work.
If you work an eight hour day, you can expect to pump about three times. Latching your baby before and after work and allowing these pumping breaks should maintain your supply. This will also strengthen that bond you have formed with your little one, and you will cherish the time you share all that much more. All you need to do is remember to take care of H.E.R.R.S.
Hydrate – Drink LOTS of water. This will help maintain and possibly increase your supply. Dehydration is common among nursing mothers and will directly affect the amount of milk your body produces.
Essential and extra parts – Get a good pump. Most insurance policies cover a breast pump, costing you nothing out of pocket. In addition to your pump – including tubes, connectors with membranes, and flanges – plan to pack four bottles—two of which you will use for pumping and two for storage. When you are done pumping, pour the freshly expressed milk into an empty bottle to store. Don’t forget caps for your bottle so that liquid gold doesn’t spill. It may help to pack extra membranes just in case. The last thing you want to happen is a membrane ripping, and you are not able to pump for the rest of the day. You may also want a few extra bottles for unexpected meetings or longer days. A hands-free pumping bra will help you eat your lunch or finish typing up that email while taking care of personal business.
Reusable lunch bag or cooler – Unless you have a personal fridge, you will need somewhere to store your milk. A thermal or insulated lunch bag, and a few ice packs, will keep your milk good until you can get it to a fridge or freezer. I also like to store breast pads in the pockets of my lunch bag to get some cooling relief to sore or sensitive nipples.
Relax – Stressing yourself with mom-guilt will directly affect the amount of milk you produce. Producing less will directly affect your mom-guilt. Do yourself and your baby a favor, relax.
Snacks – Snacking throughout the day is important. Breastfeeding mamas need the extra intake of calories to maintain their stash. Healthy snacks like granola bars, berries, nuts, and lactation cookies are great choices and will help boost your supply in case of any dips. This can also curb your appetite, allowing your metabolism to speed up and burn some of those unwanted calories.