Going Back to Work

Breastfeeding Memoirs: Trusting my Body when Returning to Work

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2015, we are sharing inspirational stories from breastfeeding/working moms.  

Today’s story was written by Georgina.


When I had to go back to work I knew I wanted to keep providing my son with the very best I could offer and one of them was his dear breastmilk.  I was very confused with the whole pumping at work idea. I had done some research at work before delivering as to where the lactation room was and what the process was to reserve the room.  I work at a hospital and I thought that just by going to the L&D department everyone would know where our lactation room was and it was going to be very easy to find.  Well to my surprise, no one knew exactly what I was referring to, all the nurses looked at me with puzzled faces and confused as to why an 8 month pregnant employee was asking about this room and they didn't even know where it was!  When I finally found it, it was a rather disappointing, sad room that looked like a utility closet, but at least it was clean and it had the necessities: a chair, a desk and a fridge.  

Breastfeeding Memoirs: Persevering when Returning to Work

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2015, we are sharing inspirational stories from breastfeeding/working moms.  

Today’s story was written by Maggie.


I had a long, stressful delivery that resulted in an emergency c-section, a tongue tie revision on day 2, followed by 48 hours in NICU. I was given a nipple shield, instructed to supplement with formula through an SNS and sent on my way. Breastfeeding was painful and difficult even with the shield, I went to many support group meetings and did weighed feeds and was able to stop supplementing. We were also dealing with a "colicky" baby until about week 8 . Then at week 10, I was able to get off the nipple shield with the help of an LC at Mary Birch. I was supposed to go back to work after 12 weeks but I was so exhausted and we were finally starting to turn a corner where we could actually enjoy our time with baby, I thankfully was able to extend my maternity leave to 16 weeks.

This prelude is to say that with all the struggles we went through in the beginning, I was very anxious about going back to work, whether I would make enough milk, whether he would get nipple confusion or a bottle preference. I worked so hard and suffered through so much literal blood, sweat, and tears to make breastfeeding work I started to really resent the fact that I had to go to work and interrupt our breastfeeding relationship.

How Can I Pump Enough for my Baby When I’m at Work?

Written by Ashley Treadwell, IBCLC

Going back to work can be a very stressful time for many new moms.  It’s difficult to leave your baby for the first time.  You may feel nervous about returning to a job you’ve been away from for months.  Your schedule/routine may have changed due to child-care arrangements.  Plus, if you’re anything like me, none of your work pre-pregnancy work clothes fit yet!  A concern that often adds to this stress is the fear that you may not be able to pump enough for your baby’s bottles while you’re at work. Some moms find that they are constantly playing a game of catch-up, trying to keep up with their baby’s intake while with the caregiver.  Below are some things you can do to improve your ability to keep up with your baby’s needs.

Help a Mama Out: Tips for Talking with your Boss about Pumping

'Help a Mama Out' Topic of the Week:

Tips for Talking with Your Boss about Pumping

What's your best tip for discussing your pumping rights/schedule with your boss? 

Shelly Hovies Rogers: Be assertive with your rights, but be flexible and willing to work with your boss and coworkers.  I found my workplace to be quite accommodating to me when I nicely, but matter of fact, told them what I needed.  Also, although I didn’t have to quote the state law, I familiarized myself with it, just in case I needed to use it. 

Kelly Reyes: Before I left for maternity leave, I discussed my need to pump with my boss and then HR, just to make sure we were all on the same page.  When I had issues with the way the ‘wellness room’ schedule was being managed, my boss went to bat for me and fixed the problem that day! 

Marie Bishop: My best advice is to know the law and stand up for yourself and your baby.  In states, such as California, it is required by law that your employer provides a non-restroom space that is private for you to pump.

Meggin Dueckman: We just talked about it!  We’re all pretty close at work, so it was no problem.  I was the first of our staff to want/need to pump at work.  Mind you, here in Canada we get a year of maternity leave, so it’s not as common for people to want to pump as frequently when they return to work.  I only pumped 1 times a day at work, more for my own comfort!

Jamie Howell Swope: As a teacher at a school, it wasn’t an easy process, but I went in knowing the law and advised my principal ahead of time why I wanted to meet with her.  That way she had time to think about how to make it work, too.

Kat Picson Berling: I was really lucky in that 2 of my coworkers were pumping moms, so they had paved the way.  I told my boss that I was going to take 2 pumping breaks at x and y time and I will be in this office and it will take 15 minutes.  He was fine with it.  I’m not going to lie…. Because I had a cubicle at work, it was sometimes difficult to find a place to pump.  Even our HR coordinator wasn’t sympathetic for me.  Just make sure to know the law. 

Chantel McComber: My advice would be to put your fears aside.  Sometimes it’s hard as a working mom to ask for things because not everyone has them.  Remember that you are doing this for your health and your baby’s health and those are two things that should always come first.

Jennifer Haak: When I discussed my date of return, I told my boss that I needed a lock installed on my office door and I explained why.

Andrea Blanco: First, know your right.  Be sure that your company falls under those rights.  Then file that information away and try *not* to use it as it can be perceived as a threat (and no one likes to be threatened.)  Second, have a plan in place.  I find that if you’re willing to have the conversation in advance, go into it as sweet as possible, and have it all planned out as to how it will work for you (with consideration given to work environment/demands/pumping law.)  Then, it is much harder for your employer to say no. 

For the United States Lactation Accommodation laws, check out Break Time for Nursing Mothers

Help a Mama Out: Nurturing Your Breastfeeding Relationship when Back at Work

Help a Mama Out Topic of the Week: What are your favorite ways to nurture your breastfeeding relationship when you work outside the home?  

Sarah – When I was working out of the home, I pumped at the times my daughter would take a bottle.  Then, when I came home I would exclusively nurse her.  She was fine with 2 or 3 small breastmilk bottles a day, then nursed the rest of the time.  She always preferred the breast and when it came time to wean, I was nervous….but at 13 months she just did and that was that!

Alicia – Comfort nursing on the weekends and morning nursing cuddle time.  I always nurse as soon as we get home from work/daycare.

Alyssa – My favorite part of my working day (as a teacher) was when I sat down in the glider at daycare and nursed my son before taking him home for the night.  We were always so happy to see each other and it helped wipe away any headaches from the day.  Plus, I developed a friendship with his teacher and got to hear all about what he did that day, which was way better than just reading a quick note on a daily info sheet!

Jeanne – Co-sleeping helped us and a feed before I leave and ASAP when I get home.  I also pump 3-4 times at work and always demand feed when I’m home. 

Katie – We nurse in the evenings, when she wakes up in the middle of the night, and at least once more before I leave for work.  It’s funny, as soon as I pick her up after work, I think her mind lights up with ‘milk!’ because she immediately wants to nurse regardless of when her last feeding was.  I can tell that she misses that when we’re a part, as do I.

Janell – As soon as I get home, he’s on the boob.  The rest of the night, he is on the boob.  We spend all weekend with him on and off the boob.  Time consuming, but I love the connection time and it forces me to sit down and breathe with my son.

Rachel – I sit with my daughter every evening after work.  Even if she goes to sleep, we spend the entire evening and night together because we co-sleep.  I make a point to forget about all of the housework I have to do and just relax with her because I know that she won’t be little forever!

Rachelle – One of my favorite things is when I get home from work, I shower (I’m a paramedic).  After I shower, I fill the bath and my husband brings me the baby and we usually relax and nurse for 20-30 minutes.  It is my wind-down time and it is quiet with few distractions.  I love it! 

Sarah – If possible, try to arrange a mid-day nursing session.  I used a local daycare that I was able to visit at lunch and nurse, rather than pump.  It greatly helped my supply and we were able to EBF for 13 months without any supplementation.

Amanda – I asked out childcare provider not to feed our little one within 90 minutes of when I planned to pick up.  That way I could nurse as soon as I got there.


Thanks to everyone who responded to our questions on our San Diego Breastfeeding Center and The Boob Group Facebook pages.  Check back every week for a new Help a Mama Out tip!

Here are a few more articles and podcasts specifically dealing with returning to work:

Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work: Roundup

The Boob Group: Going Back to Work: Pumping Strategies

The Boob Group: GOing Back to Work: Is My Baby Getting Enough Breast Milk?



Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work: Roundup

With so many of my friends and breastfeeding support group mamas going back to work by the end of the year, I thought I would do a round-up of my favorite Going Back to Workarticles (written by me, as well as some of my colleagues.)

Here's what you'll find on the San Diego Breastfeeding Center website:

Hi ho, Hi ho, It's Off to Work We Go: Part 1 - Starting the pumping and bottle feeding routine.

Hi ho, Hi ho, It's Off to Work We Go: Part 2 - Making plans with your employer and your rights as a breastfeeding/pumping/working mom.

Hi ho, Hi ho, It's Off to Work We Go: Part 3 - Tricks for an easy transition that first week back at work.

So You're Going Back to Work - Fantastic article written by a fellow working mama about her trials and tribulations those first few weeks back at work.  If you have a story to share, please feel free to submit your article to us, as well!  Just email it to: robinkaplan@sdbfc.com

How Long Does my Breast Milk Stay Fresh? - Take the guesswork out of how long your pumped milk stays fresh.  Here are all of the answers you'll need.

Help!  I am Going Back to Work and My Baby Won't Take a Bottle! - Top 10 tricks to get your little one to take a bottle before you return to work.


And, here are a few specialized articles for working moms:

How Can I Keep Up my Milk Supply While on a Business Trip?

Battling and Resolving Excess Lipase in Breastmilk


Now that you've perused all of our articles (and I can guarantee there are more waiting to be written over the upcoming months), here are a few of my favorite resources beyond our web site:

United States Breastfeeding Committee - FAQ's: Break Time for Nursing Mothers

Kellymom - Links: Working and Pumping Tips

Work and Pump - The ENTIRE website!

So, You're Going Back To Work?

A few months ago, this spunky, firecracker mama started attending our weekly breastfeeding support group and I knew from the start that she was amazing!  Over these past months, Jessica has warmed the hearts of all of the moms in the group, as well as lifted their spirits with her quick wit and sass.  Well, Miss Jessica landed this fabulous new job a few weeks ago and ended her maternity leave a little sooner than she had planned for.  I have missed her parenting insight, so I thought I would interview her about her return to work, as a breastfeeding and pumping mama.  Well, as you can see, her insight prevails!

Thanks, Jessica for your candor and advice for those breastfeeding mamas returning to work!


First day back at work

What did you do to prepare for going back to work?

Finding a good childcare provider was a huge part of overcoming my fear of returning. I don't have family here and my partner works full-time as well. I probably went to a dozen home daycares and a handful of corporate ones. You have to find someone who has a philosophy similar to your own and you feel comfortable with. As I went to providers, I discovered there were alarm bells for me: if the television was on the entire time I was there, if the provider interacted with a child in a way that I didn't like, if the terms of the contract were suspicious. I went with my gut. In the end, I found a nanny I could trust.

Breastfeeding was the surprise stressor. I was depressed I wouldn't get to breastfeed Ellie during the day and I was worried about pumping. To get used to pumping, I started pumping at home. It helped me stockpile a supply. Since I was starting a brand-new job, I made sure to thoroughly read their policies on pumping. Read the laws and understand your rights. You don't have to go in waving a boob flag or anything but you can gently inform and educate employers. Be ready to offer options like suggestions for places to pump. My employer did not know I was pumping when I was made the offer and I didn't ask any questions until I had accepted. After that, when I ran into a snag, I made sure to ask the HR rep.


What worked? Would you do anything differently?

Ask about your work schedule! The biggest surprise to me was that my employer let me have a flexible schedule. I found that getting to work by 6:30am worked very well for my family. My daughter wakes at 5AM, I nurse her and put her back down to sleep. Then I get ready and leave. My partner then takes over the morning routine until the nanny get there. My daughter doesn't have an emotional separation from me in the morning and neither do I! Then, I come home early so we can hang out most of the afternoon.

I also can't say enough about BabyConnect. It's an app on my smart phone. It tracks feeding, sleeping, diapers, medication, etc. I used it religiously before I went back to work and my nanny has the app on his smartphone as well. There is something very comforting about glancing at my phone and seeing that she went down for her nap. It tracks how much breast milk she's taking by bottle so I know if what I am pumping at work is on par with what she's eating.


What advice can you offer to a breastfeeding mom going back to work?

For breastfeeding moms, whether they plan to go back to work or not, I recommend finding a way to have a relationship with your pump. In the same vein, let your child take a bottle once in a while. You may want to leave the house one day. You might not think so in the beginning, but eventually, you will. And the more practice you and your baby have, the less stressed both of you will be.

I had a very negative relationship with the pump because of some difficulties when I first started breastfeeding but I had to get over it. I started by letting myself eat chocolate while pumping, then moved to trashy magazines. At work, I run through my to-do list for the week or look at pictures of my daughter. My point is the pump is a tool to help you continue breastfeeding.

Jessica Hilt is fiction writer that works in the technology field. In the BC era (Before Child), I hosted elaborate dinner parties, drank heavily, and stayed up late. Now I love my slow cooker, drink more water than a fish, and think 9PM is late. But it's all worth it when my seven-month-old Ellie gives me that big, gummy smile.

Also, check out Jessica's video about why she loves going to a breastfeeding support group!