If there's one thing I'm incredibly passionate about it's breastfeeding. The passion drives me to encourage soon-to-be moms to do as much research as possible during pregnancy so that when baby comes along you can be more prepared to give your baby the best in the early days.
But let me skip past the early days/weeks of initiating and mastering breastfeeding (You can read more about that HERE) and move on to the next major phase for most women: Pumping and Employment. Aside from the lack of support, one of the biggest dilemmas for moms I believe comes from the need for many of us to return to work quite soon after delivery giving the idea that exclusive breastfeeding will be difficult if not impossible to accomplish at that point.
I say fooey on that! It's so possible, and in fact, it is a protected right!
My goal here is to give you tips, in a 2 part blog series, that will help you prepare for a breastfeeding, pumping and working lifestyle AND be successful at it!
You CAN be Superwoman :)
You CAN be Superwoman :)
The first thing you should do is prepare. Research and get a head start on what you'll need to do BEFORE delivery of your baby so you have less to worry about AFTER.
- Choosing the pump - http://www.workandpump.com/pumps.htm
- *My Choice* Not listed in the above link is the Medela Freestyle. I opted to purchase this pump after looking at extended reviews and am very pleased with the portability and functionality. With my first daughter I had a Medela Pump In Style (PIS) and really loved it as well.
- Do research on the type of pump you would like. Get familiar with what is on the market, pricing, and see what you think would work best for your situation.
- Check with your insurance company for reimbursement. From what I gather breast pumps are now considered medical equipment that can be billed to insurance. They may require you to order it from a specific company, or you can buy it yourself and submit receipts. http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/insurance-reimbursement-of-breast-pumps-sample-letter/
- Breastpumps and breastfeeding accessories are considered tax deductible. If you participate in your employers FSA (Flexible Spending Account) you can use those allocated funds to purchase those items. I typically use Drugstore.com as my general go-to website to help me get an idea of what is FSA eligible. The site is not a complete list of FSA eligible breastfeeding items but it gives you a good idea.
- Building a stash before you go back to work and learning how to use your pump to get the maximum benefit - http://www.workandpump.com/pumping.htm
- You're going to feel engorged in the first week or two after delivery. A good way to build a stash is to periodically pump for short periods when you feel full and store that expressed milk in the freezer for later use.
- As an added bonus, you never know when you and your significant other or friend might want to go out, or if extenuating circumstances require you to be away from your baby for a period of time. Any amount of milk you have set aside for supplemental feeding is better than nothing, especially if you want to avoid artificial food sources (formula).
- Be sure to speak with your employer ahead of time to let them know your plans so the appropriate accommodations can be made and everybody can be on the same page when the time comes for you to return to work - http://www.workandpump.com/boss.htm
- Become familiar with state and federal laws that protect breastfeeding mothers - http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/breastfeeding-state-laws.aspx
- My employer has been very supportive of my needs with both of my children. I successfully pumped for approximately 10 months (from 12 weeks to about 12 months) with my daughter, and have been pumping for about 2 1/2 weeks back to work already with my 6 1/2 week old son.
- Educate childcare providers (whether your spouse, a family member, or a day care facility) on proper handling of breastmilk and especially proper bottle feeding of a breastfed baby.
- In order to make sure your milk doesn't go to waste by improper handling or overfeeding this is a very important bit of information you'll want to get to know so you can tell others! Check out these helpful links for further:
- Choosing a feeding method (i.e. spoon, dropper or bottle) - http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/feeding-tools/alternative-feeding/
- Every baby is different. Where some may take a bottle easily, others may not.
- My input here consists of the bottles I have tried and recommend. The thing to remember, again, is there is no one baby the same so what works for me may not work for you. Register or purchase a few different kinds of recommended bottles and experiment.
- My daughter took Playtex Drop-Ins bottles the best. She preferred the latex nipple. The silicone nipple was too slick and she had a hard time hanging on to it.
- My son seems so far to prefer the MAM bottles which is the exact opposite style of bottle and nipple to the Playtex Drop-Ins. A good reason why you should have a variety on hand.. you just never know :)
This should be a good start for you in your journey to a successful breastfeeding relationship with your baby, and a successful understanding among friends, family and coworkers about your choice to provide the best nutrition for your baby for as long as possible.
In Part II I will show how I manage working full-time and pumping in order for my son to receive nothing but Mom's milk!