Breastfeeding and working isn't easy. Employment is possibly the biggest obstacle to a long-term breastfeeding relationship between a new mom and her baby.
Not every mom nurses. But many who do aim to breastfeed up to -- or beyond -- the one year recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. For moms who want to keep breastfeeding and working, that means figuring out how to keep nursing without quitting your job.
These eight steps will help you continue feeding your baby breast milk even after you return to the work place.
Learn How to Pump
The first time my brother saw me hooked up to a breast pump, he mooed. Yes, it can feel uncomfortable and awkward, but pumping is the optimal way to give yourself the freedom to leave your child in someone else's care.
A double-electric breast pump is your best bet for pumping efficiently without busting your budget. Two popular ones are the Medela Pump In Style and the Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump. If money is no object, a hospital grade pump will drain your breasts in just a few minutes.
A hands-free pumping bra lets you type on a computer or hold a book while pumping. Don't feel obligated to work -- pumping can also be a welcome excuse for a tired new mom to relax in front of the television or pick up a book.
Stockpile Breast Milk
Start pumping as soon as possible after you recover from giving birth. Many moms find 4 or 6 weeks postpartum is when they're ready to stretch the tether between mom and the nursling. That's also a good time to introduce a bottle to a nursing baby. It's late enough that breastfeeding should be well-established, but soon enough for baby to be receptive.
You may use the pumped breast milk immediately to have a night out with your husband or lunch with the girls. But try to pump enough extra that you can start freezing two or three ounces at a time for future use. Be sure to label frozen milk with the date it was pumped and the volume.
I found storage bags cheaper and more space saving than bottles. If you lay the bags flat for freezing, you can easily stack and store them. Gerber, Lansinoh and Playtex make very similar breast milk storage bags.
Try to stockpile 50 to 100 ounces of frozen milk before your maternity leave ends -- the more, the better. I fed my daughters about 15 ounces of frozen milk each workweek, and managed to add a few ounces to my stash each weekend. Frozen breast milk can be used 3 to 6 months after it's frozen.
Sneak In Pumping Sessions
It can be hard to fit a pumping session between rounds of nursing a hungry newborn. If your baby predictably sleeps for five or six hours at night, you can pump a couple of hours after bedtime. If he takes a long afternoon nap, pump as soon as he falls asleep.
Or, try pumping just before the baby wakes up. You may find that nursing after pumping leaves the baby a bit unsatisfied. Don't worry, in a few days your body will adjust and start making more milk for the early-morning pump as well as your baby's first feeding.
I've read books that advise pumping on one breast while baby is nursing on the other, but I was never that coordinated. If you're a mom of twins, though, you probably are expert at this kind of juggling.Learn how to pump breastmilk after you return to work on the following page.