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Guide to breastfeeding for working mothers

Ami is a writer who is also a childbirth educator and former doula. In addition to her love of all things birth and babies, she is addicted to celebrity news and isn't ashamed to admit it. Ami lives in Chicago with her husband and her te...


Follow these tips and you won't need to worry about breastfeeding when you return to work.

Nancy Holtzman, RN IBCLC CPN, VP of Clinical Content and Education at Isis Parenting shares her tips for getting your new role as a nursing, working mother off to a great start:

Create a pumping schedule

"The morning is usually a successful time to begin, since most women find they are fullest in the morning," Holtzman explains. "Nurse your baby on one breast, then double pump, or nurse on both breasts if you prefer, and then double pump. If initially you are collecting very small volumes of milk, then add a second pumping session later in the day, after breastfeeding."

Learn how to use a breast pump >>

Make your own milk bank

Holtzman recommends alternating between "feeding the fridge" and "feeding the freezer."

Breastmilk can usually be kept safely in the refrigerator for four to eight days, or in the freezer for six months. Milk that has been fully thawed should be used within 24 hours.

"Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, put your expressed milk into the refrigerator for use in bottles, allowing you to have milk to offer the baby every other day or so. The other four days, put your expressed milk into the freezer to begin creating your 'milk bank' in preparation of your return to work."

Holtzman adds, "Freshly expressed breastmilk -- used within 24-48 hours of collection -- maintains almost full antibody and bactericidal properties of the breastmilk. Breastmilk can usually be kept safely in the refrigerator for four to eight days, or in the freezer for six months. Milk that has been fully thawed should be used within 24 hours. If milk has been stored for longer in the refrigerator or freezer, thaw and inspect it. If it looks and smells as you expect, and your baby will happily drink it, assume it is fine."

More about how to safely store breastmilk >>

Find a clean, comfortable place to pump

While some workplaces support breastfeeding moms, certain environments may be challenging.

Allyson C., mother of two young children who is a teacher in Michigan, was surprised when a colleague at a meeting told her to pump in the bathroom. "I asked if she ate her lunch in the bathroom, then said neither does my daughter! I went home at lunch, nursed and returned when I was finished." A few years later while nursing her second baby, she was surprised again at another meeting. "I asked the building principal if I could use his office at lunch to pump. He proceeded to tell me he had a 'pumping room' and I could use that -- wow. He had a few teachers nursing so he designated a room that was private, and clean to his teachers."

Holtzman says, "Speak to your HR department about a place to pump, and do this several weeks before your return to work. With the new legislative focus on supporting lactation in the workplace, there may be more flexibility than in previous years."

More on breastfeeding

Breastfeeding: Planning to pump?
Breastfeeding tips for working moms
Breastfeeding and returning to work or school

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