In the first of our series of blogs to support ‘World Breastfeeding Week’ this August, Sidra’s breastfeeding support team provides advice for mothers returning to work.
Many mothers, who go back to work after having a baby, may worry about juggling being at work and breastfeeding. But despite the challenges, once you make a commitment to continue breastfeeding – things will fall into place and you will find that you can work out a schedule that will be beneficial for you and your baby.
What can you do to prepare before returning to work?
- Select a childcare provider who is close to your workplace and is supportive of your commitment to breastfeeding. Questions you should ask – do they have facilities to store breast milk? Are they comfortable handling breast milk? Would they be happy for you to drop by and feed your baby at any time?
- Ask your employer or college for flexible working hours that are arranged around your breastfeeding needs. Talk to them about your plans before you return to work.
- Know your rights as a breastfeeding mother. All HR departments should have a policy, therefore please ask to see it. Here in Qatar, it is by law that: ‘The breastfeeding working woman shall have the right to choose a daily breastfeeding hour for one year, this starts from the end of the delivery leave in addition to her right of a rest period provided for in article (73) of this law. The breastfeeding period is a part of the working time and doesn’t reduce the wage’.
- Select an appropriate pump which will empty your breasts quickly and efficiently. The pump can be manual or electric, depending on your preference.
- Consider freezing some of your milk before you return to work.
- Do a ‘trial run’ the week before you return to work. Leave the baby with the caregiver and go to wherever you will be pumping. This will give you a chance to scope out the situation. It helps to actually develop a plan regarding when and where you will pump. If you know of any other women in your workplace who have pumped milk for their babies – talk to them about how they solved any challenges they encountered.
Daily tips for the working breastfeeding mother:
- Find a private place to express (speak to HR or your supervisor to establish room availability)
- Arrange breaks at regular intervals (ideally, about every three hours) to have time to express your breast milk.
- Express mid-morning, lunch and afternoon. Allow at least 20-30 minutes for each session.
- Eat nutritious meals and healthy snacks.
- Aim to drink at least three liters of water per day.
- Breastfeed your child in the morning prior to going to work and as soon as you get home.
- Breastfeed full-time when not at work.
It is is helpful to build or be a part of a network of family, friends and colleagues who can support you as you start your breastfeeding journey as a working mother. Faced with the demands of being back at work and a baby, you will find that other personal tasks or chores will fall behind. This is perfectly normal. Simplify your life at home as much as possible – by sharing tasks, asking or paying for additional help or preparing things on the days you aren’t working. It is important that you devote some time not only for yourself but also for your little one and your family without feeling guilty, overwhelmed or stressed.
Note: The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. After this time, breastfeeding is recommended alongside age appropriate complimentary foods for two years or more, as long as desired by both mother and baby.