First published on www.facebook.com/breastfeedingtogether on 8/1/2019 as part of the Topic Tuesday series.
Returning after maternity leave; it’s a big change and you’ve suddenly got a whole new routine to find, which can be particularly difficult when you’ve spent the last 6/9/12 months getting your head round babies being incapable of learning routines, responsive feeding and your focus being your new bundle of joy rather than your career! The problem with our society is, mothers are expected to raise a family like they have no job, and perform in the workplace like they aren’t a mother. We can feel guilty leaving baby, guilty if we are actually looking forward to it, worry how baby will cope, will they eat, will they settle….. add breastfeeding and continuing to breastfeed/expressing whilst at work into this and it can begin to feel like an impossible task. Many mothers are left feeling like continuing to breastfeed once they return to work is more hassle than it’s worth, especially when advertisements for formula milks convince us that formula follow on milks are the perfect choice for ‘moving on to’. Absolutely, every mother should make her own informed choice about the best way to feed her baby but if more mothers got all the information, if more employers were informed enough to be able to support breastfeeding mothers, more breastfeeding journeys could continue for as long as mothers wanted them to.
Continuing to breastfeed once you are back at work can be challenging, but can be a lovely way to reconnect with your baby after a day apart. It gets that oxytocin flowing and continues to support and reinforce your secure attachment. Your baby can continue to receive your breast milk via bottle or cup whilst with with their caregivers so that they continue to receive all the benefits of breast milk. It’s just going to take a bit of planning!
• Inform your employer, then they can make preparations, like finding you somewhere to express at work.
• Start expressing (if you are choosing to give expressed breast milk whilst you are at work) and freezing it so you’ve got a ‘stash’ to go with baby.
• Allow baby time to accept milk from a bottle or cup. It can take a while to get a breastfed baby used to it. Experiment with volumes, some babies will take just enough to get by then ‘make up for it’ with longer nursing sessions once you are back together.
• Remember it’s not all or nothing- if you struggle to express or can’t express enough milk to fully meet babies needs, moving on to combination feeding (formula and breast milk) is still much more beneficial for baby (and mum!) than exclusive formula feeding- they’ll still get loads of benefits and your body will adjust it’s supply accordingly.
• Know your rights. You have rights and protection in the workplace as a breastfeeding mum, which come under health and safety and sexual discrimination laws. Have a look at the links below for more information.
Every mother who returns to work breastfeeding makes it easier for the next. We start to educate our society and continue to normalise breastfeeding for this generation and the next.
Is there anything us mothers can not do?!