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Going Back to Work

Going back to work can be an extremely intimidating and dreaded occasion after spending time at home with your baby.  Many a friend has called me after dropping a baby off at daycare with a tear-filled rant about the injustices of the typical American maternity leave times.


A couple of tips:


  * Head back to work on a Wednesday or Thursday so that you are not starting off with a full week.  This will give you a small taste of what it's really going to be like.  Along these lines, you can also try going back to work a week earlier than anticipated and working half days for two weeks.  Either of these options gives you a little bit of ability to ease into the new routine of childcare, work and pumping.


 *  Instruct your childcare provider how to feed your baby by paced bottle feeding.  I've seen many women feel as though their supply had taken a nosedive after their return to work.  In many cases, it is just a simple case of a baby being overfed via bottle.  Jessica Barton has a wonderful video on this subject: 


*  Remember that the best way to build up your supply before heading back to work for a mother and baby that have been primarily on the breast  is to be with your baby and breastfeed.  If you have a maternity leave, the first four weeks after birth should just be you and your baby if there is no medically indicated reason to supplement; no bottles, no pacifiers.  Bottles can be introduced shortly after the first four weeks so that your baby is able to learn this new skill set before you return to work.


*  A frequent question I hear is, "How much should I have stashed prior to going to work?"  Try not to make yourself crazy with the worry.  Pumping one-two times a day in the weeks prior to going back to work is usually plenty (remember your pumping schedule at work should coincide with missed feedings if all the stars align).  This gets your body used to the pump and allows you to feel better at having a reserve in the freezer, while not taking too much time away from you and the baby.  The morning is a good time to try pumping when your volume is typically higher.


*  Once you do return to work, remember that no pump in the world will do as good of a job as your baby.  So, prior to leaving your baby at childcare, try to get in one more nursing session.  The minute you pick up your infant, sit down and nurse again.  Nurse on demand throughout the evenings, nights and weekends to keep your supply intact.  Do not be surprised to see your supply take a dip during the latter half of the week.  We all get a little rundown by the end of the week, much less those of us that are nursing and working.  Enjoy your infant over the weekend, have some snuggle time, take it easy and nurse.  You'll get your groove soon!

* Consider renting a hospital grade breast pump for a few weeks to a month if you are really struggling at work with lower supply.  This can give you a boost while making you more comfortable with pumping at work.

But....if you are struggling with this, this is a great time for a consult!

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