It can be a challenge to return to work after giving birth. And for mothers who wish to continue to breastfeed their baby, where do they even start?
Here are a few tips from a full time working mother, Elaine Low, and how she did it.
A Mother’s Breastfeeding journey
Mrs Elaine Low is a full time working mom to two lovely children, Emma who is 4 this year and David who is 13 month old. Like all mothers, she believes strongly in providing the best for her children, which also includes providing breast milk for their growth. With the knowledge and experience she has with nursing her two children continuously for the past 4 years and counting, Elaine has been a counsel to many young mothers who are struggling with breastfeeding issues and sustaining of breast milk when they re-enter their workforce.
When she was pregnant with her first child, she had no clue what challenges breastfeeding would have and what it was all about. Her knowledge on breastfeeding only began after she came across an online article on breastfeeding. She began to read up voraciously about breastfeeding during her pregnancy and motherhood, and the more she read, the more inspired and determined she was to succeed in breastfeeding her children.
Elaine has since weaned her first nursling after 4 years of nursing (which also includes nursing through her second pregnancy and 11 months of tandem nursing her second child, David) and she is still nursing David at current. She believes that human babies are made to drink human milk, not milk from another animal. From her knowledge and experience, breast milk contains everything that babies need to grow and thrive.
Breastfeeding is also not just about the milk but about the entire mother-child experience, as nursing is not just for food but also for comfort. Wanting to nurse is the way that a baby expresses his need and love for his mother, and nursing her baby is a mother’s way of showing her love for her baby.
Elaine has since returned to work and faced similar challenges as many young and experienced mothers would. In her experience in helping young and experienced mothers in breastfeeding issues, she finds that the following challenges often first arises when they are preparing back to work, or when they have first return to work: Not being able to pump enough and sustain their breast milk for their children, handling of frequent night wakings and challenges in introducing milk bottles as they manage re-adapting back into the workforce.
Tips on sustaining your breast milk
Know that you are not alone in the journey as you return to the workforce and struggle with setting aside time to pump for your baby. The challenges are plentiful, but know that your child would reap the benefits of your breast milk.
Here are five methods that can help in sustaining breast milk supply:
#1. Pump regularly
Preferably every 3-4 hours at work, to continue stimulating your milk production to make enough milk for your baby.
#2. Leave smaller bottles
Breastfed babies generally do not take as much in a bottle than formula-fed babies and do not need to take larger bottles even as they get older, because breast milk changes in composition to meet the nutritional needs of your growing child.
#3. Do not give more milk to your child than what you are able to pump in a day
If you dip into your freezer stash or top up with formula milk to make up your child’s feeds when you are at work, it will cause your milk supply to go down.
#4. Educate your caregiver on handling breast milk
To help minimize wastage; e.g. unfinished breast milk from a feed does not need to be thrown away but can be kept back in the fridge and re-offered at the next feed
#5. If you are not able to pump enough during the workday for the next day, you can try to make up the shortfall by adding in extra pumping sessions at night, in the morning or even on weekends.
By Yvonne Chee
This article is part of Breastfeeding with Love campaign, initiated by The New Age Parents and New Age Pregnancy.
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