Breastfeeding Mom’s Guide to Pumping Milk at Work
Breastfeeding will always be a personal matter for a parent to decide on. Many circumstances surround the decision on whether to do it or not. As far as medical authorities’ opinions go, however, the likes of American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have always maintained that breastfeeding is the best choice when it comes to nourishing infants. Health organizations all over the world, including the World Health Organization or the WHO, recommend breastfeeding to infants and growing babies. According to health experts, breastfeeding should be continued up to at least six months after childbirth and is best continued until the child is two years of age.
While some mothers opt not to breastfeed their babies primarily due to some difficulties that may be encountered along the way, there are still some things to be said about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding benefits for the baby:
- Breast milk is the ideal source of nutrition for infants. It has the perfect balance between vitamins, fat, sugar, water and protein, all of which are very important for a baby’s development. This perfect balance is packaged in an easily digested formula for infants.
- Breast milk gives a baby’s immune system a powerful boost. It also serves as a trigger for biochemical reactions to produce enzymes, growth factors and hormones. Breast milk contains antibodies that help increase a baby’s resistance against infections, therefore lowering the risk for respiratory tract infections, diarrhea, ear infections and other health threats.
- Some studies have found that there is a link between breastfeeding and higher IQ rating in the later part of the childhood of a breastfed child.
- The act of breastfeeding greatly promotes skin-to-skin contact and eye contact, both of which help improve mother and child bonding.
- Breastfed infants are less likely to become overweight children since breast milk helps infants to gain the right amount of weight. It is quite fascinating to know that the component of breast milk changes over time, adjusting to the needs of the baby, according to her age and on the length of each breastfeeding session.
- According to the AAP, breastfeeding may also play a role in preventing the occurrence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. It also lowers the risk of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, asthma and some forms of cancer.
Breastfeeding benefits for the mom:
- Breastfeeding can help the mother return to her pre-baby weight by burning extra calories. It can burn an average of 500 calories per day, making losing pregnancy weight easier and faster.
- Breastfeeding can trigger feel good hormones that greatly promote mother and child bonding, and more importantly, prevent postpartum depression. It also releases Oxytocin, a hormone that helps the uterus return to it its original size before the pregnancy and helps lower the risk of uterine bleeding after childbirth.
- Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and other cardiovascular diseases.
- Breastfeeding is free. There is no need to buy formula and sterilize bottles. Breastfeeding can help save time and money.
Becoming a Breastfeeding Working Mom
So you have decided to become a breastfeeding mom, what’s next? First of all, congratulations on making this very important decision. Though a fine decision, there are bound to be some difficulties regarding breastfeeding, especially if you are a working mom. Feeding your baby while you were still on maternity leave may have met little to no hassle, but now that you are fast approaching your work comeback, you may need to make a few adjustments. The good news is that feeding your child with your breast milk does not need to stop just because you are going back to work. Breast milk can be expressed for storage and later use so it is really just a matter of you expressing your milk ahead of time. Be ready to do some breast pumping at work as well. Expressed milk can be produced by using breast pumps. There are generally two types of breast pumps-- manual breast pumps and electric breast pumps. The best breast pump for you will depend on how often you will need one and how big a supply you might need.
If you work full-time, electric breast pumps may be your best bet. Electrics pumps are fully automatic. Suction intensity may be adjusted, and depending on the model, may even be capable to pump milk from both breasts at the same time. Electric breast pumps are capable of expressing more milk in a shorter span of time. Electric breast pumps may be further classified into hospital-grade breast pumps and personal-use breast pumps. Hospital-grade breast pumps work best for mothers who are encountering some difficulties with breastfeeding. These type of pumps can drain milk from both breasts at a speedy rate, and are capable of draining nearly all of the milk. Hospital-grade pumps can become quite an investment as they are top-of-the-line pumps. Personal-use breast pumps are perfect for mothers who are able to pump frequently. They pump quite quickly and are capable of draining the milk as well. Personal-use pumps can come in a number of models that offer different specifications when it comes to speed, pump systems, suction settings and portability.
Things to Do Prior to Returning to Work
Prepare yourself and your baby before returning to work full-time. Returning to work will require you to build up a big supply of breast milk, meaning you will have to pump at work as well. Pumping breast milk at work may prove to be difficult especially since your baby will not be around to trigger your lactation. Before worrying about breast pumping at work, let us first address the transition. In order to aid you, here are a few tips that you can do before going back to work:
- Start pumping and storing breast milk even before your maternity leave is up. The key is to breastfeed often in order to build up a good milk supply.
- If you are having difficulty with breastfeeding, it is alright to ask for some help. Ask for help from your local clinic or hospital. You may even contact a lactation consultant.
- Inform your friends and family of your plans to breastfeed and tell them how they might be able to help you so that you may be able to stick to your plans. Helping out with dinner or even with childcare are some of the things that you can discuss with them.
- Once your baby is 4 to 8 weeks old, you may start letting another person feed your baby with a bottle of your breast milk so that your baby can start getting used to feeding from a bottle. Be sure to only let other people feed your baby with a bottle. Always breastfeed your baby when you are with her so that you may not lose that special bond.
- Before going back to work, pay your child-care center a few visits. Take your baby with you so that she may start getting familiar with the place and people. Touching toys and other items in the center may help you build up immunities to germs in your milk to better protect your baby.
- Carefully discuss your plans of breastfeeding with your child-care provider and let him or her know how important it is for you that your child be breastfed. If he or she doesn’t already know, discuss how to properly handle your breast milk and feed your baby.
- Try to have a practice run by leaving your baby with a caregiver and see if your baby will take the bottle easily without you in the same room.
- It is also helpful to start back to work midweek since having a short first week back at work will ease you in.
- Talk to your company’s Human Resources department about existing policies or programs that help employees combine working and breastfeeding.
- Discuss your plans of breast pumping at work with your boss. Include in the discussion where you plan to pump and where you can store your expressed breast milk while in the office. It is also important that you talk about how you’ll need time pump at work.
Breast Pumping at Work
The best breast pumps to use at work are the personal-use electric breast pumps since they are capable of draining your milk faster and easier. The better models in the market even offer you the luxury of silent pumping. This buys you privacy and lets you pump in comfort when you are in the workplace. Some personal-use breast pumps come with a portable insulated cooler that keeps your expressed breast milk in perfect condition during work hours. Even with a top-of-the-line electric breast pump, breast pumping at work is still not without challenges. Here are a few tips for pumping at work:
- Familiarize yourself with your breast pump. Be sure that you know how to properly operate it. Watching instructional videos and reading the owner’s manual can help you know your way around the pump.
- Getting the right size milk collection kit is also important so that you may maximize your breast pumping
- Know that breast pumping should not really hurt. If you encounter any pain during pumping, talk to a lactation consultant and ask for assistance.
- If your baby is less than 6 months old, milk expression can be done every 2 to 3 hours; express your milk every 3 to 4 hours if your baby is 6 months or older. Be sure to talk to your employer about scheduling milk-expression breaks.
- Always wash your hands prior to breast pumping.
- Breast pumping is best done when you are feeling relaxed. Try looking at your baby’s picture or thinking about breastfeeding her to help start your milk flow.
- To help you drain more milk, try hand-expressing for one minute before pumping. Massaging your breast while pumping can also improve the amount of milk that you can drain.
- Store your expressed breast milk in storage bags or clean bottles that are properly labeled with the date of pumping and your baby’ name. This will be a helpful tool for your child-care provider to keep track of your breast milk. Remind your child-care provider to use older milks first.
- How long breast milk lasts will depend on its storage location. Expressed milk stored in a cooler when at work is safe to use within 24 hours while milk stored in a refrigerator is good up to 5 days. Breast milk can also be frozen. Milk kept frozen in the freezer section of a refrigerator can last up to 2 weeks. Frozen breast milk kept in separate freezers can last as long as 12 months.
- As much as you can, look for a private place where you can do your breast pumping Provided that you have discussed this over with your employer, you may use an office file room, storage closet or a cubicle. In case your private space doesn’t have a door that can be locked, you may used makeshift signs that you can post or hang as courtesy. Using room dividers can also be an easy and creative way to make a pump room.
Knowing Your Rights and Benefits
There are breastfeeding laws to ensure that you are protected should you choose to become a breastfeeding mother while having a full-time job. Effective March 23, 2010, the Fair Labor Standards Act - Break Time for Nursing Mothers Provision was amended to require employers to provide reasonable break times to nursing mothers so that they may have time to express their breast milk. Employers are also required to provide their breastfeeding employees a place where nursing mothers can freely express their breast milk.
Another great news is that if you are covered by a health insurance, you may be entitled to get a breast pump. The Affordable Care Act has mandated health insurance companies to include in their coverage the full cost of breast pumps. Be sure to contact your health insurance provider and ask about their breast pump policy.