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Return to work and breastfeeding

Finding a balance between work and personal life after maternity leave is not so easy. Many mothers are torn between the reluctance to part with the baby and the need to earn a living or the desire to develop their career.

And if you want to continue breastfeeding, you must also take care of maintaining milk production and consider feeding your baby in your absence. The main solution is most often expressing milk at work and its safe storage and transportation home.

What are the benefits of breastfeeding after maternity leave?
When you spent many weeks or months alone with your baby, getting back to work can be emotionally difficult. Breastfeeding helps maintain a close relationship between you, making it easier for both to switch to a new regimen.

In addition, breastfeeding is a wonderful way to fill the lack of communication with the baby. So says Peggy, a mother from Switzerland: “I went to work when Penelope was six months old. I continued to breastfeed her – just before leaving the house and immediately after returning from work. So we could still spend time together. ”

Do not forget also that continued breastfeeding after going to work is also an opportunity to provide the baby with useful protective substances that are found in breast milk. Many components in its composition help fight infections and accelerate recovery when the baby is sick. Research results even suggest that nursing mothers are less likely to leave work than mothers who do not breastfeed because their children are not so often ill.

When is it better to return to work?
Some mothers do not have much choice in this matter. The period of return to work may depend on the employer, applicable law or the financial condition of the family. If you are lucky and you have the opportunity to choose, weigh everything “for” (income, career growth, professional development, socialization) and “against” (parting with a child, expenses for a nanny or day nursery, difficulties in organizing care). Talk with friends and colleagues before making a final decision.

Keep in mind that combining work, breastfeeding, pumping and caring for a baby can be very difficult – both emotionally and physically. However, some mothers think pumping is a great way to rest in the middle of a busy day.

“It was not easy to work eight hours a day after maternity leave, so I enjoyed taking breaks for pumping,” recalls Monica, mother of three children from Switzerland. “It gave me the opportunity to sit down, close my eyes, relax, and be alone with myself.”

How to organize child care?
Find a nursery in which your baby will be ready to feed with expressed milk and will not mind that you breastfeed it in the morning upon arrival in the nursery and in the evening when you come to pick it up. Discuss this in advance before signing the contract and clearly explain your wishes.

Find out how breast milk is stored in a manger and bring enough sterilized bottles and nipples. Explain how best to feed the baby so that he agrees to eat in your absence: whether to warm the milk, whether to take the baby in his arms or whether he can eat it himself under supervision (if he is already six months old).

If a family member takes care of the baby, leave them enough milk and give detailed instructions. As Jimena recalls, a mother of two children from Argentina, her daughter was not immediately accustomed to a new method of feeding: “When my daughter was nine months old, I went to work four hours a day. I got up early in the morning, expressed milk and left a bottle for my husband. At first, my daughter didn’t want to eat from the bottle, but we continued to offer, and in the end she got used to it. ”

What questions should be asked to the employer?
Contact the employer as soon as you decide to go to work, even if you plan to do it only after a few months. It is necessary to discuss the work schedule and find out what conditions they can provide for you at the workplace to continue breastfeeding. It might be worth considering part-time work, or in shifts with another employee, or vice versa, for extended hours, but not for a full week.

“I took maternity leave for six months, and after that I decided to go back to work. Now I work part-time, 60% of the time, and for me it is an ideal option, ”says Andrea, the mother of two children from Switzerland.

If you work for a large company, contact the Human Resources Department to clarify the rules regarding nursing employees. If the company did not yet have employees who needed to express milk during working hours, do not hesitate to become the first.

If you plan to express milk at work, inform your employer in advance.

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