Nourishment like no other

Working mothers can follow this helpful guide to breastfeeding

Mothers, who are homemakers, have the benefit of exclusively breastfeeding their infants for more than six months. However, working mothers can find this difficult, as they have to resume work. Getting back to a hectic work schedule and caring for an infant can seem daunting at first, but if you plan your maternity leave smartly, things can go smoothly and you will be able to nurse your baby and work at the same time.

Here are a few guidelines for working mothers to continue breastfeeding even after resuming work:

Maternity leave

*Take at least six weeks to 12 weeks of leave, as it will help you recover from childbirth and settle into a good breastfeeding routine.
*Practice expressing your milk by hand or with a good quality breast pump. Store up to 60 to 120 ml of milk at a time for later use.
*Help your baby get used to drinking breast milk from a bottle or a cup. Start the process from the time they are 3 to 4 months old. This will make things easier when you resume work.

Managing things at work

*Speak to your mentors about what is or isn’t working for you. Take up work-related responsibilities gradually, as it will give you more time to adjust to the routine.
*Choose a childcare facility close to your workplace, so that you can breastfeed your baby during lunch hours.
*When you arrive to pick up your baby from childcare, take time to breastfeed first. This will give you both time to reconnect before travelling home and returning to your household chores.

Expressing milk
If you’re breastfeeding and going back to work or looking for more flexibility, invest in a good breast pump. A good quality electric breast pump can help you to express milk while at work.

*Ensure that you express milk in a sanitised and hygienic environment. Do not express milk in a restroom.

*Use a BPA (Bisphenol A)-free container, make sure the container is clean and has capped glass with hard plastic. Before expressing the milk into the container, make sure that your hands are clean, always wash your hands with soap and water before expressing the milk.

*You will need to express and store milk based on the regular feeding pattern. This will be about two to three times during a typical eight-hour work period. Expressing milk can take about 10 to 15 minutes or longer. The number of times you need to express milk at work should be equal to the number of feeds your baby will need while you are away. As the baby gets older, the number of feeding times may go down.

Storing milk

*Store the expressed milk in a container and place it in the freezer. You can make use of waterproof labels and ink to label the containers with the date you have expressed the breast milk. This can help your family members or caretaker in identifying the suitable container when you are away from home.

*You can defrost the milk 30 minutes before feeding it to the baby. Make sure the milk is at the room temperature. You can also gently warm the milk by placing it under warm running water or in a bowl of warm water.

*Going back to work post-delivery is a hard decision especially when the baby needs exceptional care. Emotional and physical support from the family is crucial to help new mothers have a stress-free life. You will have to make some adjustments during the first few weeks when you have returned to work, but eventually, you will get comfortable. There’s nothing more important than giving your child proper nourishment.

(The author is consultant obstetrician & gynaecologist at Fortis Hospital)

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