How Can I Breastfeed When I Return To Full Time Work?
There are many different reasons why maternity leave is a necessity. A woman needs time to heal after the birth as well as establishing her role as a mother. It is a learn-on-the-job experience for both mother and baby and having that special time together is what cements the bond and helps the woman grow to be a confident mother.
When the time comes to return to work it can be really difficult for some women. In many cases, finances dictate the decision and unpaid leave may just not be an option. Some women welcome the experience of returning to the workforce and there really is no one rule that fits all, but in general, it is a difficult time and adjustment for everyone.
If you are a breastfeeding mother you may be anxious about how you can continue to breastfeed when you return to work. We are here to reassure you that it is possible. The baby’s age, your working hours and the policies held in your childcare environment and workplace will determine the overall outcome.
Many women return to work when their baby is somewhere between six and nine months. At this point, you will have introduced your baby to solid food but milk will still make up a huge part of their diet. Your baby may be feeding several times throughout the day if they are younger. Older babies tend to feed less. If your baby is over the age of one you may find it manageable to feed them in the morning and evenings during your working days.
Many mums find that expressing milk and building a freezer supply is really helpful for when they return to work. They can feed their baby in the morning before they go to work and whenever needed from when they return that evening, but those day-time feeds must be replaced somehow, particularly if the baby is younger and requires more milk feeds nutritionally. Expressing milk/pumping can take some time to get comfortable with so a couple of weeks before you return to work think ahead, do some research on the right pump for you and begin to find a time that you can pump every day. It might also be a good idea to introduce the odd expressed feed using a cup or bottle. Many babies require quite a bit of convincing to take milk from anything other than the breast. Introducing it a couple of weeks before will give you confidence that it will work out when the time comes for you to return to work.
It is expected that you will need breastfeeding breaks at work for your own comfort, to maintain your supply and to avoid infections like mastitis. You should speak to your employer about the company’s policy to come up with a plan that you are comfortable with.
The Law states that if they have given birth in the last twenty-six weeks breastfeeding employees are entitled to sixty minutes time off or a reduction in working hours in an eight-hour working day without any loss of pay. It requires four-week notice to the employer so that they can make the necessary arrangements.
There is no legal requirement for your employer to give you breastfeeding breaks after the twenty-six-week mark however many employers are willing to support mothers who wish to continue breastfeeding when they have returned to work. In some cases, the above break or a smaller break is offered to help support the mother. In that time she can pump (and in many cases be offered a fridge to store the pumped breast milk) or breastfeed her baby if the childcare is nearby or on-site. In rarer cases, the baby may be brought to work by a friend or family member so that the mother can feed her baby.
Written by Tracey Quinn staff writer at FFHQ who also blogs at www.loveofliving.ie.