3 Tips For Making a Smooth Transition From Breastfeeding to Pumping When Returning to Work

Guest blog post by Elizabeth Peters

Maternity leave has been wonderful and you have enjoyed having precious weeks to bond with your baby, but it’s inevitable that you will have to return to work soon. Preparing to return to work after maternity leave can be a stressful time. To add to the stress of worrying about having to leave the baby in childcare or with relatives, moms who choose to breastfeed exclusively also have the worry of making the transition from feeding at the breast to pumping into bottles to deal with when they return to work. While dealing with this change can be stressful, there are things you can do to prepare in advance that will make the transition a much smoother one.

Make the Transition to Pumping Before You Return to Work

Try not to wait until the day you return to work to begin pumping and offering your baby a bottle for the first time. As with most transitions there is bound to be a few bumps along the way and it will be much less stressful to get any kinks worked out while you are still relaxed at home rather than when you are also dealing with the stress at work. A good rule of thumb is to begin making the transition two weeks before you return to work so that your baby has become comfortable feeding from a bottle and you have had time to familiarize yourself with pumping. The transition will be much easier if you have both had a chance to get used to it ahead of time.

Start a Routine Pumping Schedule

When you start pumping at home, think about what times you will have available for pumping throughout your work day and try to pump at those times in the couple of weeks before you return to work so that your body gets on a routine. Make sure to stick to the routine on the weekends too, it is important to stay on schedule seven days a week to keep your milk supply ready to be expressed at the times you need it to be. Sticking to a schedule will help ensure that you get the most out of your pumping sessions when you go back to work.

Talk to Your Boss About Your Plan to Pump as Early as Possible

Showing up for your first day at work with a pump on hand and springing it on your boss that you will need breaks for pumping throughout the day isn’t a good idea. Let your boss know before you return to work what your plan is and what your needs will be. The thought of having this conversation can make some women uncomfortable, but know that the law is on your side here. The “Break Time For Nursing Mothers” law requires employers to provide new mothers reasonable breaks to express milk for the entire year following birth and that they must make available a place, that is not a bathroom, that is shielded from co-workers where this can be done. This means that you have the right to be able to pump at work, and you should inform your employer of your needs ahead of time so they can in turn make a plan to accommodate you. Giving them some advance notice will make things go smoother for everyone.

Pumping while working can take some work, but with proper preparation and determination it can be a smooth and successful endeavor.

Elizabeth Peters is a freelance writer who specializes in the parenting/family niche. When she is not writing for clients she can be found blogging about parenting on her own blog at TheMommyVortex.com. She currently resides in Alabama with her husband and two young children. Connect with her on Twitter: @themommyvortex

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