Expert tips by Lynne-McKensey Hall IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) and Baby Hints & Tips Breastfeeding Expert
Returning to work after having a baby can be exciting and scary all at once. Exciting as you anticipate adult conversation and potentially a welcomed increase to the bank balance. Scary as you contemplate how you will juggle several balls in the air at once with leaving your baby, ongoing breastfeeding, working and maintaining a home life balance.
Anything is possible with some planning, organisation, patience and a sense of humour (not always easy!).
Ongoing breastfeeding or providing breast milk is possible and worthwhile however, whatever and whenever you can manage. The key is finding the balance that works for you within your family unit.
Many workplaces proactively support breastfeeding and expressing as the means of encouraging their female employees back to work. While legislation has facilitated this in government settings, other workplaces still need encouragement to improve their support of women when they return to work.
The main thing to consider and plan for well ahead of time is childcare — either with a family member, a nanny or a childcare centre. What potential or options do you have to work from home full- or part-time? Is job sharing an option?
If your baby is about to start, or is eating complementary foods (solids), can he use a bottle or a cup? Are you comfortable with expressing? Is your pump sufficient to manage your expressing needs? What facilities does your workplace provide to help you breastfeed your baby at work or express and store your breast milk?
Preparing, freezing and storing food prior to returning to work for meals at home or for work can certainly help, regardless of who does the hunting and gathering in your household. How much, how often and where can you outsource the domestic duties to ease the load?
Think of the early days and weeks of returning to work as a time of transition for you and your baby. Some days may be easier than others. Your baby’s sleep and eating patterns may change in response to the changes in his world, potentially resulting in him waking and wanting more breastfeeds overnight.
If you are working part-time, he may breastfeed frequently on your days off which can be a useful way of maintaining your supply for breastfeeding and or ongoing expressing. Childcare and managing the house may need some fine tuning.
The important thing is for you to remain optimistic and positive about what you are doing for yourself, your family unit and most of all, for your baby.
Returning to Work is the fifth booklet in my Breastfeeding and Baby Matters series.
I have many more tips and suggestions to help you understand and manage your options as you prepare to return to work. Good Luck!
Lynne-McKensey Hall has over thirty years’ experience in nursing, midwifery, nurse education and lactation management. She now works as an IBCLC in her private practice Better Beginnings in Sydney, Australia. Lynne has just released Breastfeeding & Baby Matters, a series of eight booklets available from Better Beginnings. She is also available for phone 0419 245 966 and Skype consultations. To see all of Lynne’s articles, click here.