Breastfeeding exclusively even after you return to work is possible, if you have an accommodating workplace. Think about the following considerations:
The office layout
- Do you have a private space where you can pump? Your own office with a door that closes is great. A very few companies have designated pumping rooms, which are ideal. In a pinch, a woman's bathroom, a spare office, or a conference room where there is privacy, an electrical outlet (if you have an electric pump), and a chair to sit in will work.
- Is there a refrigerator at your workplace, and a sink where you can clean your pump in between uses? You can also keep your milk in a cooler, but being able to keep that cooler in a refrigerator is ideal.
The structure of your day
- Do you get regular breaks that you can use for pumping? You might want to start out pumping once in the morning, once at lunchtime, and once in the afternoon. You can gradually shift so that you're pumping twice in an eight-hour day, assuming you breastfeed before you leave the house and as soon as you return.
- Are your breaks long enough for pumping? You'll want 10 or 15 minutes for actual pumping, and the setup and cleanup can take an additional 10 minutes.
- Is there another mother at your workplace who is currently pumping? She may have already mapped out a strategy that you can use.
- If you'll be pumping someplace like the women's bathroom, where other women may be coming in and out, are you comfortable with that?
- Will your coworkers be supportive? You might want to feel them out before you go on maternity leave. Just remember that you don't need their permission to make food for your baby! Having their blessing will make your feel more confident, however.
- Are you comfortable bringing up the subject with your supervisor? It will be important that she know why it's vital that you get your pumping breaks.
- Do you know your rights when it comes to pumping? In some states -- California, Minnesota, Illinois, Connecticut, Tennessee, and Hawaii, for instance -- your employer is required to let you pump during your regularly scheduled breaks. Other states ask employers to at least make a reasonable effort to give women a clean place to express milk. If your supervisor or anyone else is trying to limit or forbid you from pumping, look into your state's law at www.lalecheleague.org.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.