A Working Mom's Guide To Breastfeeding And More
Returning back to work after maternity leave is full of mixed feelings for a new mom. On one hand, she might feel overjoyed to return to her independent professional self and on the other, she knows she will not be returning as the same person. The baby that was on her constant watch, would have to be handed over to a person she trusts with the job. But who can be better than mom herself? And what can be better than breast milk?
Just because you have to step away from your baby for a part of the day, it doesn’t mean that baby has to be put on the bottle. Here are some tips for a smooth transition.
Start as early as a month before you plan to return to work. Figure out who will be taking care of the baby. Your choice may include a family member, a hired help or a daycare. It would be ideal to start giving this caregiver, an opportunity to care for the baby when you are around. This will give you a chance to observe and train them as you wish to. If you plan to hire help, you may consider installing nanny cams to keep a watch from a distance. Daycare facilities offer a great solution to those who may want to keep babies around. Choose a day care that is hygienically maintained and has trained professionals looking after the babies. Most day cares will also offer access to CCTV cameras.
Invest in a good breast pump
Since you may be away from baby for hours at a stretch, it might be a good idea to press and store milk in fridge to be used later. Depending upon your budget, you may opt for a manual or an electric breast pump. You will also need a brush, a bottle cleaning liquid and a sterilizer to clean and sterilize the pump parts. Try to invest in a pump that has a lid to cover its mouth as it helps in storage and transport of pumps. If the pump has a lid, there is no need to sterilize it before every use if stored properly in a fridge.
Train the caregiver
You may feel much better leaving the baby with the caregiver if you get a chance to explain your special way of caring for the baby. It may seem obvious to you, but everyone does not understand that washing hands before feeding a baby is important. So explain every minute detail that you feel is important for your baby. At the same time, keep in mind that you should maintain your cool with the caregiver and build a good rapport with her.
Storing the milk
Remember the rule of three. Breast milk can be stored for 3 hours at room temperature, 3 days in the fridge and up to 3 weeks in the freezer on an average. Also, mark the containers with date and use them with FIFO or first in first out principle. Keep in mind that if your baby is 6 months plus, you can even start some semi solid weaning foods and will require less number of milk meals when you are at work.
Know your rights
As you get back to the workplace, understand that the maternity benefit act gives you more than just a 6 month leave. It also gives you certain additional benefits. Your employer has to provide you an additional break to allow you to breast feed your baby if you choose to. It is also mandatory for your employer to make a provision for day care within 50 yards of the workplace.
Speak to the HR
Make sure you speak to your HR before you join back. Let them know when you plan to join and also that you plan to continue to breastfeed your child. Ask them if they have an association with a nearby daycare (as its mandatory). In case you have the option, you should take a break during the day to visit your baby to breastfeed in person. Else, you may need to carry the breast pump with you to work.
It is time to revisit your wardrobe and buy something new to begin on the right foot. Consider buying a bigger handbag and more comfortable shoes. It might be a good idea to buy breast pads to wear to work.
The night before
Prepare yourself mentally and get all things in order for the next day. Do plan to pack a nutritious lunch for yourself.
The first day
Take it slow and easy and do things your way. Motivate yourself and do not try to overexert yourself to prove to be the best worker on day one. Keep monitoring the baby at regular intervals and try to relax when possible. This will help you sustain your energy and go long.
When you are a few days into the new routine, you will get a clearer view of the changes needed. Considering whatever works best for the situation, make the desired changes or adjustments as per your requirements.
While getting used to your new normal can feel challenging, it can also help your baby develop a social understanding. Spending some time away from you gives your baby a chance to adjust to new people around him/ her. Moreover, the hugs that you receive from your baby on returning home after a hard day of work, will make you feel like the most loved person in the world.