Erin Patrice O'Brien
After hiring a caregiver for your baby, the toughest decision many working moms face is whether to wean or continue breastfeeding. To nurse while working outside the home, you'll need to feed your baby immediately before and after work, and, if you decide to nurse exclusively, you'll have to express milk on the job and then transport it home. You'll need a powerful electric breast pump (those that can be used on both breasts at one time are, obviously, the most time efficient), a portable freezer pack or access to a refrigerator at work, and clothing that conveniently and quickly buttons down the front or lifts at the waist.
Despite what sounds like a lot of inconvenience, pumping has many advantages. Not only will you be able to keep giving your baby all the benefits of breast milk, including a decreased risk of allergy and illness, but nursing will also provide some valuable skin-to-skin contact and emotional closeness that you'll both appreciate as you spend more and more time apart.
If you decide to continue nursing, both you and your baby need to prepare for the separation ahead of time. Once your milk supply is well established-usually after about six weeks-have your husband feed the baby an occasional bottle filled with breast milk or formula. (Offering a bottle earlier than 3 weeks may lead to nipple confusion and interfere with milk production; if you wait too long, however, the baby may become so attached to your breast that he will refuse the bottle.) It's not a good idea to bottle-feed the baby yourself at first, since he's accustomed to nursing at your breast and may become confused.