Three things to do before you go back to work
There may be more things you want to do before going back to work, but these are the three you must do:
- Your employer: discuss breastfeeding and your need for time and a private place to express your milk before you go back to work...preferably before you leave for maternity leave. Here is a sample letter you might start with, if you aren't sure how to begin the conversation. If you anticipate a less than enthusiastic response from your boss and you think some outside authority might help, take this sample letter to your ob or pediatrician and enlist their help.
- Your day-care provider: educate yourself and your day-care provider about proper milk storage, how much a breastfeeding baby needs to be fed and how feeding breastmilk in a bottle is different than the formula feeding the provider may be more familiar with. In fact, familiarity with breastfeeding may actually be one of the criteria you use for selecting a day-care provider.
- Equipment: get a good pump and practice using it. What constitutes a good pump for you will depend on how many hours you will work per week, but in general you want to invest in a new pump (so it is reliable) and a double pump (cutting your pumping time in half). You don't need a 3-month supply of milk in your freezer before you go back to work, although you will want to have some as a cushion. Usually you will be pumping today for what your baby eats tomorrow. Start your baby practicing with a bottle at approximately 3-6 weeks of age. Practicing doesn't have to be daily; a couple of times a week will help your baby maintain the bottle skill while still enjoying most of the time feeding at the breast.
Take every opportunity you can to be with your baby during during your maternity leave, no matter how long or short it is. Studies show the chances of a good, abundant milk supply are dramatically improved by unrestricted, frequent access to the breast for the baby, even in the very first days of breastfeeding.