Working and breastfeeding:it’s a challenge that many mothers face. 44% of mothers in the United States say that they are not able to breastfeed for as long as they wanted to, and 23% say that going back to work is the reason had to stop breastfeeding.
Know Your Rights
One of the best ways to meet your breastfeeding goals as a working mother is to know your legal rights. If you are an hourly-paid employee of a company with at least 50 employees NATIONWIDE (that’s total number of employees across all locations of the company, not just the location where you work), then you are protected under a recent amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under this provision, your employer MUST give you adequate break time and a place to pump for your baby until your baby is 1 year old (they are not required to pay you for these breaks, however). In addition, your pumping location CANNOT be a bathroom, and must be private – shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public. Not sure if this applies to you? Read more about FLSA here.
How often should you pump at work?
You should pump about as often as your baby would usually nurse, or about every 2-3 hours. It is very important to get in all of these pumping sessions, because without them, your body will think that your baby does not need the milk produced during that time, and your supply will decrease. That means that if your baby normally takes 30oz per day (let’s imagine that’s about 3oz per feeding), and you skip 2 pumping sessions, your body now thinks that your baby is drinking 24oz per day. Where will that extra 6oz come from?
How much milk does your baby need when you are separated?
Unlike formula, breastmilk changes to suit your baby’s needs as your baby gets older. This means that even though your baby is growing and getting bigger, the amount that he or she eats won’t change very much at all. Every baby is different, but most babies need about 1-1.5 ounces per hour of separation. For example: if you will be at work for 8 hours, your baby will most likely need 8-12 ounces during that time, probably given as 4 3-ounce bottles. Breastfed babies rarely need more than 4 ounces in one meal at any point during the first year of their life.
Bottle feeding the breast fed baby
Asking your care provider to practice “paced bottle feeding” is another tool that will help you to meet your breastfeeding goals. Using a paced bottle feeding method helps to ensure that baby is not accidentally overfed, and also makes it easier for babies to transition between breast and bottle. Additionally, it is helpful to always use a slow flow nipple, regardless of baby’s age. Why? Well, the flow at the breast never changes, so if you increase the flow of the bottle, you may experience breast refusal/bottle preference with your little one. Watch an instructional video about paced bottle feeding here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoBVtE6S1dk&feature=youtu.be
The transition from being at home on your maternity leave and heading back to work is overwhelming, but with good support from your employer, your family, and your friends here at Milk on Tap, you can make breastfeeding and working something that works for you!