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I'm looking for information about some of the most common challenges faced by working mothers who are breastfeeding and how to over come those challenges.

How does one prepare oneself and the baby for a return to work after birth and what tools (not brands, just which tools) are a definite prerequisite for success?

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I've answered part of this in another thread here: parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/4442/… –  monsto Nov 28 '12 at 19:29
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2 Answers 2

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Challenges are:

  • finding a place/time at work to pump
  • washing the bottles and pump equipment
  • freezing/unfreezing milk
  • creating a milk storage for unexpected situations
  • making your baby comfortable with another caregiver(while you are at work)
  • fighting with guilt that your baby is growing while you are working

How to deal with it:

  1. Ask your manager if there is a mother's room, If you don't have it - ask manager if you can use some empty office. By law(at least in US) company must provide you a place where you can pump.
    Regarding time: if mother's room is shared with other moms - check with them at what time they are using it. May be create a schedule, so you won't interfere. Try to pump the same time as your baby eats, so on weekends your baby and your breasts won't be confused :)
  2. First time you might need to pump 2-3 times a day, and washing all this equipment is exhausting. To deal with it you can buy two sets of equipment, so you'll end up washing it once a day and at home,not in front of your co-workers. Another way - you can get sterilizing bags that you simply put in microwave and somehow it cleans everything.
  3. Once milk is defrozen you can't freeze it again. In order to transfer it home safely - I was leaving pumped milk in office refrigerator(in black closed bag). And I had icepack in the freezer(more than one, in case I'll forget it home). At the end of the day I'll put icepack in the black box with milk and drive it home. If I forget my milk, that's fine, it stays in refrigerator for the night.
    You shouldn't unfreeze the milk in microwave. Cup with warm water works fine.
  4. At your first day at work your baby will need to eat milk, but you haven't pumped yet, to get it. Besides one day you'll want to have a date with your husband or you'll need to work late. Stocking up the milk in freezer works perfectly for this. Start about 2-3 weeks before the end of your maternity leave. When baby is done with eating, pump the rest of the milk and freeze it. Some women give one breast to the baby and another to the pump :). In the morning there is the best time to pump. Don't forget the label with the date. Milk in a freezer can be used up to three months, in a refrigerator - a week, home temperature - couple of hours. Try to take your pump with you all the time, so if milk from freezer is used - you will pump to cover the loss in your milk bank.
  5. Your little one will get used to you during maternity leave and then somebody else (day-care workers, grandma, nanny) will take care of him. In order to make the change stress free, adjust baby to the schedule and if you are not planning the day care invite your caregiver 1-2 weeks before the end of maternity leave. So the baby will get used to her/him. And the caregiver will learn how to treat your baby right in your presence.
  6. The only thing that helped me is: psychologists say that it doesn't affect baby a lot if mom works or not(if baby is treated with good care while mom is at work), it does affect mom much more. Besides later on, kids from the families where both parents are working are more self-reliant and respecting their moms more. I hope :))

Good luck and happy parenting :)

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If you want to continue breastfeeding your child once you go back to work, you need the whole bottle supply chain:

  • A pump
  • Plastic bags to freeze pumped breast milk
  • Many women recommend a photo of your child that you look at while pumping. This releases some hormones that support the 'milking' process
  • Equipment to keep milk pumped at work cool until you can freeze it (fridge, or cool packs)
  • Equipment to unfreeze/heat the stored milk (a pot with boiling water works just fine, but there are also solutions especially for this purpose - for a price, of course)
  • Bottles and nipples
  • Bottle and nipple sterilizer (a pot with boiling water works just fine...)

How do you prepare for it - well, I suggest practising all the steps involved some weeks before you actually go back to work: The pumping, the freezing, bottle sterilization, unfreezing, heating, and bottle feeding. Try to make the situations as close to reality as possible, for example pump when you are not at home, and your baby is away, have someone else give your baby the bottle while you're gone etc.

That way you will discover all the things that are missing in the list above, and what can go wrong.

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