Are you a new mother planning to return to work? You're probably worried about breastfeeding your little one. Here are 10 tips to help you make the move confidently.
By Aarthi Arun
Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby — it has all the necessary nutrients for your child's growth and development. And it is exclusively made for your baby. What's more, it has all the immunity-boosting powers your newborn needs to thrive. Though breastfeeding seems to be natural, it can be hard for some women. In fact, it can be particularly difficult for a working mother who must balance work, home and manage time for her baby. If you're a new mother thinking about getting back to work, your number one worry will be how you can continue to nurse your baby. Fret not. We have ten great tips to ease out the transition and help you continue your breastfeeding journey.
1. Stretch your maternity leave
According to a new law passed in March 2017, women can take up to 26 weeks of paid maternity leave in India. So, utilise this time efficiently to bond with your baby and establish milk supply. Colostrum, the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, is, in fact, the perfect food for your newborn. Paediatricians recommend exclusively breastfeeding babies for the first six months. After that period, slowly introduce solid foods. To give your baby the full protective effects of breast milk, you can continue to breastfeed her until she turns two years old. However, due to financial, family or personal reasons, some women may want to join work earlier than six months. If you're in such a situation, it is important to keep your milk supply intact by regularly feeding or pumping milk.
2. Increase milk supply
About a week before you start work, you can start freezing or refrigerating expressed milk. You can buy a high-quality breast pump for this. A double-sided electric pump is your best bet to save time. Human breast milk can stay up to four hours at room temperature. You can refrigerate it for four days and freeze for up to six months. Once you start work, your child's caregiver can thaw the milk to room temperature and, give it to your baby.
3. Start offering a bottle to your baby
You can start training your baby to get used to the bottle almost a month before you join work. Offer pumped milk for one or two sessions per day. Continue to feed your baby naturally as well, to soothe and connect with her.
4. Set expectations and boundaries at work
As soon as you join work, talk to your manager about timings and work-from-home options. Give a clear indication of your break times and availability for extended work hours. This will ensure you're not taking too much time away from your baby. Don't forget to discuss the possibility of using a private room for pumping milk. And if there is no refrigerator at work, consider taking a cooler box to store expressed breast milk.
5. Make use of your break time
If you live close to your workplace, you can head back home during lunch hours and feed your baby. If you're planning to leave your baby in a daycare, look for onsite daycare within the office premises. Else, it is a good idea to find a daycare that is nearby so that you can visit your baby during your break times.
6. Dress appropriately
Even after re-joining work, hang on to your maternity wear. These clothes can be handy, discreet and save you time when you're feeding your baby at his daycare or while you're pumping milk at work. Also, be smart with your accessories — you never know when you may need a breast pad or an extra milk storage bag.
7. Establish a feeding schedule
Set in place an everyday schedule to nurse your baby. Feed your baby just before you leave for work, and as soon as you get back home. You can inform your baby's caregiver not to feed her around the time you return. This is also a great way to reconnect with your baby.
8. Enjoy night-time nursing
When you start working, it can be increasingly hard to keep up with the demands of your baby at night. But, this is actually your time to enjoy skin-to-skin contact with your baby. Also, your baby may prefer increased feeding at night after being away from you during the daytime. So, keep your baby in the same room or co-sleep to avoid major disruptions in your sleep schedule.
9. Get help from friends and family
It can be overwhelming to juggle work, home and raise a baby at the same time. Instead of trying to do everything on your own, ask for help. If you're tired, ask your spouse to bottle-feed the baby. Older siblings and relatives can also pitch in and share household work.
10. Take care of yourself
You are working hard to take care of your family. But it is equally important to take care of yourself too. Remember to have nutritious food, physical exercise, plenty of water and try to get some me-time, to rejuvenate yourself.
With inputs from Dr K Ramalingam, paediatrician.
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