Expressing and storing breastmilk
might seem difficult at first, but given some time to get used to it, most working mums say they improve very quickly. If you’re finding expressing difficult, you might want to use a photo of your baby or a piece of clothing he’s worn (so it carries his smell) to help your let-down reflex.
Other feeding options for mums returning to work
Breastfeeding or expressing at work might not be practical for you.
Another option is to breastfeed your baby whenever you’re together – for example, before and after work and at night – and feed your baby infant formula, or solids if she’s old enough, while you’re at work.
Continuing to breastfeed outside work hours maintains the bond between you and your baby, and it can be very rewarding for both of you when you’re together at the end of the working day. If you do this, your baby will still be getting the many benefits of breastmilk.
Consider all your options – try to be creative, persistent and positive.
Breastfeeding and employers
Australian employers are improving their attitudes to breastfeeding and are getting better at supporting mums returning to work who want to keep breastfeeding.
But some employers might not know how to start a conversation about breastfeeding at work. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to talk to your employer about breastfeeding. After all, breastfeeding and expressing at work isn’t just good for you and your baby – it’s good for your employer too.
Benefits of breastfeeding for employers
When employers support their workers to breastfeed, the benefits include increased staff retention, reduced costs, improved staff satisfaction and morale, and reduced sick leave and absenteeism.
Breastfeeding and your rights
For some mums, it’s important to know that you have the law on your side.
According to the Federal Sex Discrimination Act, it’s illegal to discriminate against a woman on the basis that she is breastfeeding. Employers must make reasonable attempts to accommodate you if you want to breastfeed or express milk while at work.
Some workplaces are now accredited by the Australian Breastfeeding Association as Breastfeeding Friendly Workplaces. These workplaces make it easier for breastfeeding mums returning to work. For more information about which workplaces are already accredited and how you can go about getting your own workplace accredited, see Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace
Carers and breastfeeding
Your baby will have some adjusting to do when you start to express or breastfeed at work.
If a carer will be looking after your baby when you return to work, try to organise for the carer to give your baby some expressed milk via a cup or bottle before you go back to work. This can help your baby get familiar with the carer and the change in feeding routine.
Sometimes babies will refuse a bottle from their mums or will refuse if they know their mums are nearby. If this happens, your carer might introduce the bottle or cup to your baby. Leaving the carer with a piece of your clothing can also help to settle your baby if he gets upset because you aren’t there.
Plan ahead and start expressing a few weeks before returning to work so you can have some expressed milk in reserve.
If you’re having any difficulty with breastfeeding and returning to work, help is available.
Useful contacts are your child and family health nurse, GP or a lactation consultant. An Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) counsellor can also help – phone the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 686 268.
You’re bound to get lots of different advice – take the advice of the person or organisation you trust most, and stick with it.