Motherhood is one of the biggest experiences in a woman's life. I remember one of my close friends who was 9 months asking me for some pearls of wisdom since I had already plunged into the never ending saga of being a mom.
After giving her few do's and do nots and tips on relaxing and how to find time for yourself, she asked me the most difficult question- How has your life changed now that you are a Mom? Many things came to mind like a "before and after" collage....from late night partying to late night feeds, from taking naps, going to the salon to 10 min quick baths ( with the bathroom door open to keep an eye on baby)!! But as all these pictures faded through my brain all I said "After being a mom life is different it's all about a new normal"!
That's a fact, everything is normal but it's all new....and with many other challenges we face, moms have to take a huge decision on returning back to work! And when they do, it brings with it new challenges especially if you are a breastfeeding mom.
Here are few main challenges a returning to work breastfeeding mother would face and what can be done to ease them.
Challenge 1: Buying the right equipment suited for you and your needs.
Getting back to work can be daunting especially when you are still breastfeeding. But for a determined Mom there are no stops. Successfully breastfeeding depends on figuring out how you will be going about it all.
1. If you plan to feed your baby directly, then you may not need any equipment to help you. Unless you would like to pump at work and save the milk for later or just keep your milk supply up.
2. The market is brimming with many options on breast pumps. Pumps come in a few basic types: Single or Double-sided, and Electric, Manual, or Battery powered.
3. It all depends on what you will be comfortable with and how many hours you'll be away from your baby.
4. A visit to the maternity stores and checking online will give you a good idea on what is available and which is a good fit. But learning to hand express will be a good to know as well.
Challenge 2: Change in feeding schedules and how to make them work.
Since your baby was born, both of you have gotten into a mutual working pattern especially the feeding schedules. But now that you are back to work that means an entire change. This can make any mom frazzled.
First take a deep breath!
1. Yes! It is going to change but the key to successful breastfeeding while your working is to try and get in feeds when ever you are with your baby.
2. Squeeze in early morning feeds, rely on night time feeds. You can always express milk and freeze it.
3. Breast milk can stay for eight hours at room temperature without going bad. In a refrigerator it, can stay for up to seven days and still be fit for consumption.
4. If your company has daycare facility and you can plan to take you baby along, in that way squeezing in few feeds at the office will be a good option, talk to you employer about your situation.
Challenge 3: Negotiating with your employer
You are wondering how to work around expressing milk at work or feeding your baby. Will it be possible and won't effective you work.
1. Open communication with HR representative at your company before getting back to work is ideal.
2. For providing Breast milk for your baby at work you won't need much except for some basic necessities which can be provided by your employer.
What will you need:
1. A private room like a conference room with a comfortable chair and good lighting. Bathroom is a no no!
2. Flexible expressing/feeding time in between work.
3. A company policy or something in writing that says that they are supportive of breastfeeding mothers.
Challenge 4: Working in a male-predominant industry
We do live in a progressive society; women are enjoying gender equality in almost all genres now. There is also a growing initiative taken by many companies in bringing back women on a hiatus after having a baby. But to some extent most companies are still male dominant, this can create challenges when you may want to excuse yourself from some meetings during a feeding session.
1. Keep your employer or the HR representative in the loop about your intent.
2. Work out schedules that will give you time off from your other responsibilities to get your breastfeeding sessions done. Breastfeeding is normal and every company should allow its women employees who are doing this the basic necessities.
Challenge 5: Not giving up on breastfeeding and sticking to it while you return to work
It may get stressful with the fact that not only you'll be away from your little one; breastfeeding is going to be difficult too.
1. The important fact here is to breastfeed your baby till however long you want too and can.
2. Try and get back to work on a Wednesday or Thursday so the first week won't be too overwhelming and will be short and help you get used to the pumping schedules gradually.
3. Join a supportive group with likeminded moms going through the same thing, groups like La Leche can always positively motivate you, you can find their Facebook link here
4. Be vocal if you need any help from family members in anyway to help support you.
In the end remember breastfeeding is a small part of your life with huge benefits, if you run into any hurdles on the way remember it is not forever and you are not alone. Just find what works for you and your baby. Hope this helps you in your journey of breastfeeding.
Always remember to talk to your doctor before you make any changes or decisions.