The day has finally come. Maternity leave is over, and it's time to trade in long days of sweet baby cuddles and stretchy leggings for conference calls and status reports. Let's just say this isn't the only let-down that's happening today, amirite? (Sorry, bad mom joke!)
Going back to work can bring about a whole slew of emotions, challenges, and questions for any new mama, and for those who choose to continue nursing and pumping after getting back to the daily grind, there are definitely quite a few concerns about the logistics. To make sense of it all, we sat down with certified NYC Lactation Consultant Leigh Anne O'Connor for advice on returning to work as a breastfeeding mom.
When it comes to nursing, there is a little bit of "meal prep" that you can do on your days off. "Nurse as much as you can on the weekends to produce more milk during the work week," says Leigh Anne. This will help to maximize your pumping sessions while you're at work. As for your pumping sessions, Leigh Anne suggests aiming for 3 pumping sessions during an average 8 hour work day, and recommends that you massage your breasts while pumping -- "this can increase your milk output by as much as 40%."
Another one of Leigh Anne's tips for increasing milk production is to sip lactation tea. "Make hot tea in the colder months and a pitcher of iced lactation tea in the warmer months." she says. This will help boost output and it's a great way to stay hydrated throughout the day. Speaking of hydration, "Here's a fun fact," Leigh Anne shares, "When the weather is hot and humid, the percentage of water increases in your milk to hydrate your baby!" Just another reason to sip that refreshing iced tea!
Once you've logged off for the day, get in some QT with your QT. "Nurse as soon as you reunite with your baby at the end of the workday," suggests Leigh Anne.
Most importantly, don't let your nursing and pumping schedule dominate your work calendar. "Make it work for your lifestyle and your schedule!" Leigh Anne urges. "It's not all or nothing. If you can't get in three pumps, get in as many as you can during the day. Supplement with formula if you can't keep up with your baby's demand." And when you do bottle feed, whether it's with breastmilk or formula, keep an eye on what bottle and nipple you're using. Leigh Anne advises, "avoid moving up to a faster flow bottle, as there is no need. Your breasts don't suddenly change to a faster flow when your baby hits three months or six months. You want your baby to continue to use his or her muscles on the bottle to keep nursing."
For more of Leigh Anne's tips on all things lactation or to inquire about her prenatal and postpartum services, visit her website here.