Continue to Breastfeed even if you have to go to Work

The joy of breastfeeding even though you go through pains, is most rewarding.   You must choose to continue breastfeeding your baby even though you are working.  You always want what is best for your baby and breastfeeding is one of them. You will not compromise even though you have to go to work but will find ways not to deprive your baby from continuous supply of your breast milk.  You will definitely have to make some sacrifices and adjustments but these cannot be compared to the benefits your breast milk is going to contribute to your baby’s health in a holistic manner.

Proper Planning

Proper planning is very important in ensuring that you are not so burdened and tired to the point that you are unable to express your milk.  You can do it manually or use a pump instead.   (I would recommend hand expression since it does not cost anything.  All you need is a place to wash your hands, a private space and milk storage bags.  As for a pump, you need to worry about sterilising it first, carrying it around with you and or find en electrical outlet).  By this time, you should know how much milk your baby needs for the day.  You can therefore schedule the times that is most suitable for you to express your milk.  Any extra milk can be kept in the freezer since breast milk can last for about 6 months to 12 months depending on the type of refrigeration system you are using.  Frozen or refrigerated breast milk may look a little different from fresh breast milk, but this does not mean it has gone bad.  It may also separate into a creamy looking layer and a lighter, more milk-like layer.

In fact you should train your baby to drink your breast milk from the bottle a couple of weeks before you return to work after your maternity leave.  This allows him to get a feel of the bottle nipple.   Such a training will help your new born baby to accept your breast milk through the bottle’s nipple compared to your warm and soothing nipples.  Your baby will of course reject it at first but keep talking to your baby and he will somehow get the idea eventually.  However saying this does not mean that you may have a baby who would just reject the bottle’s nipple and wait for you to return home to take his sweet revenge by making you breastfeed him for the hours he was not given the comfort of your nipples.  He will pin you down until he is fully satisfied.  When you check with your care giver, you will see that he actually drank only very little from the bottle just to sustain his hunger but never to the brim of his contentment and fulfilment.  Your baby just knows how to control his hunger until your return. 

Seek help from your management

The most difficult time when you return to work is managing your engorged breast.  Irrespective of what steps you have taken in terms of wearing the most suitable type of clothes, you cannot help but sense the discomfort of your engorged breasts.  Any accidental knock by your colleagues, the sounds that may stimulate your breasts to leak, the absence of your baby not reaching out for your nipples, the pain that you have to endure throughout the working hours, will somehow discourage you from continuing to breastfeed.  However this should not be the case if you can let your management know that you are still breastfeeding your baby and you need their help in managing your breasts during working hours.  You can let them know that you need to take some time off to go to a private room to express your milk and store the bottle in the refrigerator. You can normally do this during your lunch time but there are times you may need to do it at unexpected hours.   This also means that you are unable to work long hours.  You are discouraged from creating an environment where feeding your baby through the bottle replaces your nipples.  You have to return home for your baby to enjoy your warm breasts and bonding.  If your working place is close to your home, then you can return home or to the caretaker’s home during lunch time and breast feed your baby.   This is where you need their understanding of your situation.  Let your colleagues know that you are still breastfeeding so that they can come forward when you need help.  If possible, put up a sticker at your work desk that you are breastfeeding so that people do not forget easily.  Also at the same time, some of your colleagues may just want to talk to you about the benefits of breastfeeding and some who have breastfed before, will lend a hand by giving you some advice.

Milk Sharing

There are mothers who go to the extent of milk sharing with close friends or relatives or networking.  You can log on to https://www.facebook.com/hm4hbmalaysia/info  (Human Milk 4 Human Babies).  This is a non-commerce platform connecting mothers with surplus of breast milk with babies in need.   They cross nurse or hire wet mothers to continue breastfeeding their babies because bottle feeding and formula milk are never going to be their choice.  Wet nurses are not uncommon.  It has been an old practice.  One great example was the Prophet Muhammad who was fed and raised by a wet nurse for the first two years of his life before returning him to his mother. Nowadays there are mothers who are open to such an arrangement.  If you choose this method, it is best you make sure that the mother’s milk that your baby is drinking from is screened first and you have the medical reports in your hands.  You would not want to risk your baby’s health.  There have been a lot of successful stories for mothers who have boldly chosen this way.  However such a choice can only be made when you have got full support especially from your spouse and your loved ones.

Avoid the tendency of switching to bottle feeding

There is a tendency that you may choose to bottle feed your expressed or pumped milk when you are not going to work.   You chose to bottle feed your breast milk because you have to go to work but never to the point that you become comfortable with this method until you neglect your baby your warm nipples, interaction and bonding.   Your baby needs to stimulate your nipples so that the milk keeps coming. The more he feeds the more milk you will produce.  Continuous bottle feeding will definitely put an end to this.  Keep breastfeeding your baby when you are off work, during weekends and public holidays.  If you have to go out for some reasons then do not be ashamed to feed your baby in public.

Support Group/Networking

Connect to a support group and if there is not one near your home, then network with working mothers who have breastfed their babies on a part-time basis.  You can find them among your colleagues, friends and/or relatives.  Support groups and networking can provide assistance, encouragement, counselling, information and interaction.  You are never alone in your struggles. 

If you put things in order, breastfeeding your child part time is definitely going to bear fruits compared to feeding him formula milk.  You will continue to look at the face of your baby who is contented because he knows that you care and love him.  Never give up on this beautiful journey that you have started with your baby.