Whether you are returning to work after maternity leave or just entering the workforce as a new mother, adjusting to a new schedule while breastfeeding can be tough for both working mothers and even for babies. Caring for a newborn is already a full time job by itself and while we want to encourage mom to breastfeed as long as she wants to, we also understand that breastfeeding itself has its own set of challenges such as facing low milk supply.
New mothers often wants to do it all – juggling a demanding career, ensuring a steady and constant supply of breast milk for their new born, ensuring the family needs are well cared and provided – often also at the expense of their own emotional well-being,
It is important to keep in mind that, as a mom, you need to take good care of yourself as well. If you’re not healthy, rested and relatively stress free, you won’t be able to do any of these things well. Know that your life and new schedule will eventually return to a more balanced point.
The good news is that, with a bit of planning and preparation, you can better manage the process of returning to work and maintaining a successful breastfeeding journey. Here are 3 of the most common concerns that working breastfeeding moms may face, more importantly, some tips for how to deal with them.
No Time To Pump
While some mothers worry about whether they are able to express enough milk to regulate their milk supply? Some are concerned if their employer provides a breastfeeding-friendly environment for pumping?
Coupled with the demand from work and between meetings, how can you excuse yourself to go for a quick pump? Thanks to technological advancement, now you can invest in a hands-free breast pump that allows you to be able to pump discreetly at your work desk even during meetings or even pump on-the-go!
Schedule your pump breaks in your work calendar and stick to them. Adding them as “pump-in-progress” into your work calendar normalises this very normal thing you need to do. But sometimes things get really busy and your work situation can’t be flexible, don’t get all uptight and sweat about it. If you miss one pump session, just try to make it up as soon as possible so you can get back on track with your regular pumping schedule.”
If you have time constraints, let’s try to plan a pump session before you leave for work or have your pump as soon as you reach the office.
This method would prevent you from having “hard boobs” until your next pump break, which is usually 4 to 5 hours later. And we do think that you likely would like to have a double breast pump that can pump both of your breasts simultaneously in view of time constraints for an effective and efficient pump.
Have your breast pump ready to go the night before – make sure all breast pump parts are clean and place bag by the door so you can grab on your way out
No Let-Down During Pump
What is a let-down reflex? A natural reflex occurs when the baby latches to the mother’s breast for the first couple of minutes, and the mother’s breast releases breast milk. Many first-time mothers only “feel” it after breastfeeding religiously or when the baby turns 1 month old.
Some women describe a let-down feeling as an “electric” sensation from the breast. Some mothers report being let down when they see another breast not being used, as well as drip milk.
A typical pumping session will require the mother to achieve 2 to 3 let-down reflexes in order to fully empty the breasts. How can I do it in a stressful environment like in a workplace? Would my colleague understand and how can you explain to your colleagues that you need to go away for your pump sessions?
To encourage let-down reflex during pumping, you can try following:
- Start with a warm compression
- Massage your breast or even temples （太阳穴）
- Tickle the nipple
- Look at pictures or videos of your sweet baby cute face while you pump.
- Bring your baby’s blanket for their scent
Recurring blocked milk ducts
Blocked milk ducts (known as plugged ducts) are when the breast milk is obstructed in a portion of the breast. Many working mothers face this problem when they return to work. This is likely caused by the long work hours, resulting in delayed pumping.
You can also try to simulate a pumping routine 2 weeks before returning to work. This would allow your body time to adjust to the new pumping routine and reduce the risk of blocked milk ducts.
Avoid wearing a wired bra or tight-fitting dress or shirt may result in blocked milk ducts, especially at the side or bottom of the breasts. Camisole or nursing bra would be perfect for working mothers.