Going back to work is hard enough as it is for most mums without having to add another classic MYTH which is, "I have to stop breastfeeding now because I am going back to work'. I hear that all the time. The truth is, if you are happy breastfeeding your baby, you don't have to stop. I remember how traumatic it was for me to go back to my old job after having my first baby. I took a year off, and I cried for about two months at the thought of having to leave my baby somewhere during the day. It was nearly unbearable. For us, and for most mums and babies, breastfeeding is not just about milk. It is bonding. Time together. Comfort. It goes deeper than feeding. Neither of us were ready to end the breastfeeding journey there.
Our expert on the subject, Lisa, tells us that it is important to stress that it is in no way a reason to stop. In Ireland most women get 6 months minimum off work. Milk is the most important part of the baby's diet until they reach at least one year of age. So what mums can do is pump in the lead up to returning to work to build up a little stash of milk, which can be frozen in small batches. Babies can take this milk while the mother is absent from a bottle (or a sippy cup /spoon /oral syringe). The amount of pumping/ expressing required during work hours will vary from mum to mum and depends on a few factors such as number of hours away from baby, the age of baby at time of returning to work and how much solid food baby is taking in. The law in Ireland stipulates that women are entitled to express milk in work until the baby is 6 months of age, after that it is at the employer's discretion. Sometimes mums will pump milk and store it for future use and others just express off enough milk for comfort during her working day. The beauty of breastfeeding is that the body adapts to the demand so that if a mum works a 5 day week and continues to nurse in the evenings and during the night, her milk supply will adjust accordingly.
If you are about to go back to work and have some questions or doubts, we recommend this article for some great information.
I personally shiver at the mention of pumping. I tried every single device at one point (following the advice that my baby needed top ups, which wasn't the case, and only added unnecessary stress, but we will leave that aside for now). I couldn't get a single drop using pumps. I will buy a different one and see. Nothing. It felt horrible, humiliating, and I found it really painful (remember I had mentioned cracks!?). As I told you in my first article too, I suffered mastitis, twice. For all of you who have experienced that, yes. OUCH. But, little did I know that thanks to that I would acquire an incredible skill. I remember trying to ease the pain with hot water. Trying to unblock the conducts and working through lumps. Again, your body really knows what to do. I realised I could express manually. I did some research, even found tutorials. It was a REVELATION. Using your hands to express milk is so much easier, natural, less painful and most effective. All the gadgets ended un in the bin.
Going back to work is different for everybody. A 6 months old baby has very different needs to a 1 year old. If this can be of any help, I will share with you what we did. I used to hand express one bottle in work (I was very lucky we had a room for breastfeeding in our offices, with a little fridge so I could keep the bottle there safely during the day). My one year old would have that bottle for the next day at the creche. He would take it on and off. And he would eat anything else that was going too. After work I'd collect him and the first thing he would want to do was to feed. He kept feeding on demand whenever I was around, and when I wasn't around he would happily have something else. He decided to stop feeding when he was 2 and I had my second baby. I experienced the same dynamic the second time around. I did not return to the same job, so things were easier on that front, and I successfully continued my breastfeeding journey for over 4 more years.
I did go through challenges at times of course. My secret weapon for success (apart from great support) was this book: Breastfeeding Made Easy: a gift for life for you and your baby. I read everything that was out there to read and THIS BOOK is what you need. It is a reference book that covers everything you need to know. It answers ALL the questions you may have (I still referred to it years into breastfeeding). It is written by Carlos Gonzalez, a renowned paediatrician and father-of-three, author of Kiss Me! How to raise your children with love and My Child Won't Eat! He brings his warmth and positivity to a subject close to his heart and his clinical practice: breastfeeding. He has a characteristic friendly style, and tackles real-life questions mothers have about breastfeeding head-on:
Trust me on this one.
Wow, this week has gone fast. I feel we are only getting started. So much work needs to be done in relation to education on this subject, don't you think.
I am wrapping up the week tomorrow by sharing a document packed with useful links and information I would love for you to save it, share it and explore it. I want you to know where the support is if you need it. I want us to be the village.
Remember that as a way of helping spreading the word (check my first article, where we talk about changing lives) , I am doing an amazing GIVE AWAY in collaboration with Frank&Nora on Instagram and the winner will be announced on the 26th of March, for Mother’s Day. Tomorrow is the last day, so don't miss your chance to win!
Frank&Nora is an independent growing brand run by Stephanie. A creative, a designer, a wife & a mother. Using 100% organic cotton, they provide affordable quality with a unique customer engagement ethos.