Two to three months of full breastfeeding may not be long enough for our lil ones. Unfortunately, most working moms are not privileged to extend their vacation to 6 months or even a year.
Can you really continue breastfeeding when you go back to work? The answer is a big YES!
To date, I personally know about 25 working moms (including myself) who have successfully continued breastfeeding for at least 6 mos (others already nearing the 2 yr mark). How we do it? Here are some tips:
1. Invest on a Really Good Breast Pump
A good breast pump will be your best friend while you are away from your baby. Choose the one that will offer you convenience. For instance, if you’re an office mom, and you have a nursing area, then the best pump for you would be a Double Pump that allows you to do hands free so you can continue working while pumping. It likewise cuts your extraction time by half since it targets both breasts at the same time, instead of just one. Top lines for dual pumps are the Medela Freestyle and Pump n’ Style series.
If you wouldn’t have much space where you can extract your milk and wanted to do it on your post, or if you’re shy with the sound that the double electric pump makes, then you can pick the more silent electric pumps or manual pumps like those of Avent’s
Don’t worry on the pump’s price. You can recover that in just 4 months or less. It’s like buying formula milk for 4 months. Plus you can still use the pump beyond it, or even on your next child. That is why having a good pump is indeed a wise investment.
2. Find a Place to Extract Your Milk
Good news! In the Philippines, the government offers tax incentives for companies who provide lactation rooms (RA 10028: Expanded Breastfeeding Act). Some companies have one for each floor, while others have a big lactation room for all moms to share. For some, moms use the conference rooms or storage rooms. Just make sure the area is clean.
When you go malling, nursing rooms are also available in almost all Rustan’s branches, Ayala’s Family Lounge and SM malls (that’s why I love ‘em!)
3. Have a Handy Dandy Cooler & Ice Packs
When choosing a cooler, you must consider (1) how much milk you would fit in, and (2) how long it will take you to get home. Most common mistakes I noticed, is that some moms immediately buy those bulky boxes and blue ice packs. Remember that you will be bringing this everyday, so choose a bag that is comfortable for you.
In my case, for short trips like going to & from the office, I use Medela’s mini insulated cooler & ice pack (these two are included in the Freestyle set), and 2 additional small gel packs (e.g Igloo, Rubbermaid or Coleman).
For those times when the cooler is expected to be left in the car under the scorching sun, I use Igloo’s 6-can insulated bag with 6 gel packs.
I place one gel pack on each wall of the bag, one at the middle (like a divider between 2 bottles) and one at the top (under the bag opening).
My bottles remain cold for more than 8 hours in the car. All of these can be bought from SM
4. Find a Clean Ref in the Office
To keep your ice packs frozen, place them in the freezer once you reach the office, then keep your extracted milk in the refrigerator. Just make sure that your milk is properly labelled so as not to mix with other mom’s milk. You can also place them in Milk Storage Bags and keep them in a labelled plastic container (Tip: you can reuse those microwavable plastic containers you get when you take out restaurant foods)
Don’t worry that your milk might get spoiled. Freshly extracted milk will last 6 days in the ref. Just maintain this temperature when you transport your milk using your cooler. Then when you get home, that is when you freeze the milk
5. Bring Extra Pump Parts
To save time from washing your pump parts, you can bring at least 2 sets (depending on how frequent you express milk at work) so you’ll have new ones whenever you pump, then you can wash them all thoroughly when you reach home.
6. Always Bring a Water Bottle
Always keep yourself hydrated. As a baseline, you can drink as much water as advised when you were still pregnant (at least 2L). This will not only replenish your body fluids, but drinking warm water also increases your milk supply!
7. Have Extra Milk Storage Bags Available
In case your bottles wouldn’t fit your cooler, transfer your milk in these pre-sterilized milk bags. Choose those with double zip lock, so you’ll be sure that it won’t leak while you travel. It doesn’t only keep your milk safe, but it also saves you space on your cooler
8. Pack Extra Breast Pads in Your Pump Bag
Breast Pads ensure that your clothes will stay dry especially during those extended meeting sessions where you cannot immediately express your milk. So make sure you always have an extra clean pair for these unexpected events.
9. Leave Some Galactagogues in Your Locker (or pedestal)
Galactagogues are food supplements that are known to increase milk supply. Famous ones are Malunggay Capsules, Fenugreek and Mother’s Milk Tea. Usually, when we are too busy or stressed at work, we may notice that our milk supply decreases, so it is essentially helpful when you have these lil wonders readily available. For more tips on how to increase breastmilk supply, click here
10. Have Nursing Accessories on Hand
Nowadays, a lot of accessories are available to make breastfeeding easier and more convenient.
I myself cannot live without my Pumping Bra while in the office. This helps me to extract milk hands free while I work on my computer or eat lunch (talk about multi-tasking! )
A nursing cover is also important as it helps you to hide when you feel awkward in expressing milk in a shared room or on your post.
11. Find a support group
Lastly, let your co-workers and bosses know that you decide to continue breastfeeding even while at work. In this way, you can get their support whenever you have to excuse yourself to attend to mommy duties. Besides, you will be amazed by the stories and tips that they can share to you.
Now that you’re all set, you must remember to pump as frequently as you can. At the start, try to do this every 3-4 hours to establish your milk supply –> one when you get to the office, one before or during lunch, another one in the afternoon and last is before you go home. When you get used to it, you can pump every 4-5 hrs (2-3 times in the office). The interval between sessions really depends on how long you can sustain it without decreasing your milk supply. Avoid going into 6-8hr intervals as this lessens the supply for most moms. Always remember that you supply milk based on the demand. So the more you extract milk, the more you produce it.
Remember, breastfeeding is all about mind-setting. Be confident that you can reach your goal! Let’s do it Supermoms!!!