Pregnant? Set the stage for breastfeeding before your due date

You work.
You’re about to have a baby.
You plan to breastfeed.
You plan to continue to breastfeed when you go back to work.
Now, just how is that going to work?

Despite all the known benefits of breastfeeding for the health and well-being of our children, many of us face barriers and challenges when we return to work that derail our efforts to continue to breastfeed. Here are some tips from our lactation consultants about actions you can take while you’re pregnant and still working to make things easier upon your return to the workplace.

 

Set the Stage-Before Your Due Date

Before your due date talk to your employer or supervisor about your plans to breastfeed and the positive implications for your workplace if you’re able to continue to breastfeed and to express milk when you return to work:

  • Lower health care costs for both mother and child. Breastfed babies have lower rates of infection and illness and breastfeeding has positive implications for mothers too, including lower rates of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis.
  • Lower absentee rates
  • Higher employee morale (and so productivity) and positive view of a “family-friendly” employer.
  • Retention of experienced employee

It is also useful to know the legal requirement of employers to be supportive. The Healthcare Reform Act (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) made clear the responsibility of all employers to provide suitable (private, not a bathroom) space and reasonable time for mothers to express their milk multiple times a day without interruption. You can find more information about the federal law here.

Make a plan

Before your due date, come up with a plan with your employer or supervisor to make pumping successful. Your plan should include:

  • The location of a private, non-bathroom space, where you will not be disturbed or viewed while you express milk.
  • How your work schedule will allow you two to three approximately 15 minute (plus travel time) breaks every work day.
  • Where you will be able to store your breast milk. Susan suggests a cooler that you can take to and from work.
  • Where you will be able to store and clean your breast pumping equipment.
  • How you might modify your schedule at the beginning to ease into being away from your baby. If possible, see if you can return to work for reduced hours the first few weeks or starting in the middle of your work week so that you have less time away from baby the first week back.

Once you have agreed upon a plan, write it down and share a copy with your employer and supervisor.

Don’t forget to tap into a powerful resource, your colleagues. Is there someone in your workplace who breastfed their children? Or whose partner breastfed? Can this person be a champion for you?

Sign up for Breastfeeding Basics – A class for expectant mothers to support them on the breastfeeding journey

Until we have a child and start to breastfeed, we may be oblivious to those in our workplace who were forging the way with regard to breastfeeding and working. These colleagues may be able to offer support and practical solutions for your specific workplace.

If you work at a site with a human resources office you may wish to check in with the folks there, first, as there may be a site-based program to support you. The Business Case for Breastfeeding from Womenshealth.gov provides a wealth of information your human resources or employer can use. Among other items this document includes a list of myths and facts that you may wish to arm yourself with in case your employer or supervisor has concerns.

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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