I am planning on going back to work after having my baby and I want to continue breastfeeding. Can you tell me a little about preparing for such a decision?

Breastfeeding is often a satisfying and rewarding experience for you and your baby. It provides your baby with the many nutritional benefits only found in breast milk, protects your baby from colds and illnesses, and promotes weight loss in mothers. It is important to feel supported and positive in your endeavor to breastfeed your baby and women who return to work while still breastfeeding often face unexpected challenges.

Fortunately, women have wonderful options at hand and breastfeeding and returning to work no longer needs to be problematic. Not only is returning to work grounds for wondering how to continue breastfeeding, but the simple desire for wanting someone else to feed the baby at night, or going out to dinner are also reasons for women looking for an alternative. Breastpumps can be a wonderful way to incorporate breastfeeding into your busy schedule.

Several kinds of pumps are available and it’s important to select the pump that’s right for you and your unique situation. Handheld pumps are inexpensive but can be very time consuming, uncomfortable, and are often less effective than electric pumps. Battery-operated/mini-electric breastpumps allow you to pump one breast at a time. Many women find battery pumps noisy and uncomfortable to use which can lead to a decrease in the amount of milk expressed. High-grade electric breastpumps are very popular for they allow you to express both breasts at the same, are efficient, and easily portable. Although they are more expensive than manual or battery pumps, most women find them quick, easy, and comfortable to use. They are a great value for mothers who are returning to work part-time, or for mothers who wish to pump on a daily basis. Hospital grade electric breastpumps are the most efficient pumps available. They are particularly effective for women who are returning to work full-time, those who have low milk supply, or those who are exclusively expressing and giving their baby breast milk in a bottle. Renting a high quality, hospital grade breastpump allows you to express both breasts at once and saves you time and money.

In addition, breast milk is hardy, and once pumped needn’t be consumed immediately— another advantage for the busy mom. Breast milk can be kept at room temperature for 6 to 10 hours, placed in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days, and stored in the freezer for 3 to 6 months. Frozen breast milk can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight or warmed under hot water. (Do not thaw or warm refrigerated milk in the microwave for it can destroy enzymes that protect your infant.) This storage benefit is helpful in that moms can pump an excess supply and keep it in the freezer for those unexpected occasions when she might need to have a bottle for her baby.

If you’re thinking about renting or purchasing a breastpump, our certified lactation consultant, Jan Archambault, is available to help you select a pump that will best meet your personal needs. A mother of three breastfed children, and with 15 years experience as a maternal/child nurse and lactation consultant, Jan provides practical solutions to breastfeeding problems. She is available to women to help them learn about the benefits of breastfeeding and how best to work this rewarding commitment into a busy lifestyle. She offers a monthly prenatal breastfeeding class, is available for private consultations in our office, offers Medela breastpump rentals, and sells breastfeeding supplies.

For further information, please call Harbour Women’s Health to speak to Jan or to one of our other providers at 603.431.6011.