A Working Mother’s Survival Guide to Breastfeeding
Congratulations on your little one! We understand you’re now in the throes of motherhood and your life has completely changed.
It does go back to normal after a while. However, as a working woman, there is a lot to navigate.
It doesn’t matter whether you work from home or you make the daily commute, being a new mom involves a lot of commitment.
One of the major time-consuming tasks is breastfeeding. If you work at home, this is easier as your child is always within reach.
Those who work away from the house need to make an extra effort. Naturally, this is not an easy task so we’ve compiled some guidelines to help you along the way.
The main thing is producing and storing as much milk as possible so your baby never lacks.
Even if you’re a busy working mom, there are two things which you need to keep in mind:
- Having the right bra
- Providing enough breast milk
These tips will help you figure out the basics and keep you and your baby happy.
Wear the Correct Nursing Bra
Sometimes it might be hard to understand the way your body will change during pregnancy. As a first time mother, this could possibly be the most overwhelming time in your life.
One of the major changes will happen to your breasts. How will they change? Will they be manageable? How will you change your wardrobe effectively?
The first thing on your list should be finding the right bra.
You need a bra to accommodate your growing body, as well as allow you to breastfeed and pump breast milk.
Finding the right bra is key to making this process a whole lot easier. It also allows you to get back into the rhythm of your daily working life.
How to Choose the Right Nursing Bra
When shopping for a nursing bra, these tips will help make the process easier.
1. Buy the Correct Size Nursing Bra
Use a sizing guide to determine what size bra you need. You will need to measure the size of your breasts when they are at their fullest. This will make sure you do not invest in a bra that is too small.
If you need to buy a bra before giving birth, measure your breasts during the eighth month of pregnancy. At this stage, your breasts will be similar in size to when you give birth to your baby.
To get the perfect fit, measure around the bottom of your rib cage making sure the tape
measure is snug but not tight. Round this up to the nearest inch and record the number. If it is an odd number, add five inches. If it’s an even number, add four inches.
This is your under-bust size also known as the band size for your bra.
The second step is to measure across the fullest part of your bust (over-bust measurement). Round this off to the nearest inch.
Subtract the under-bust size from the over-bust size. The difference between these two numbers will give you your cup size.
If the difference is one inch, your cup size is an A. Two inches would equal a B cup, three inches is a C size. A four-inch difference is a D size, five inches a DD and six inches is an E cup.
For example, If your measurements are:
- Band size of 36 inches; bust size is 40 inches, then your bra size would be 36D.
|Over-bust inches - Under-bust inches = Cup Size|
|Difference in Inches||Cup Size|
2. Choose the Correct Material
Nursing mothers experience fluctuations in breast size as they breastfeed. The flow of milk is not constant and may increase and decrease at any time. This means you need to have a bra that can stretch to accommodate the changes as they happen.
As you venture back into the working world, you will need a structured bra. This should provide enough support to wear underneath your work outfit.
You can even opt for a more stylish type of bra to get you back into the swing of things. With these beautiful maternity bras from New Bloom Maternity, you can get style and comfort.
Opt for wireless bras as your breasts will still be sensitive. Choose one which will still provide the necessary support for your daily needs. Underwired bras can also result in blocked milk ducts.
Choose a fabric that is breathable and easily washable such as cotton. Bras made of cotton are soft yet durable. When combined with spandex, they provide just the right amount of stretch.
They are also usually machine washable and highly absorbent in case of any leakage.
You will need to decide how many bras you need depending on the frequency of use. It is advisable to have at least three bras:
- One nursing bra to wear
- One nursing bra to sleep in
- One in the laundry
Make sure you have the basics first. You can then start looking for additional bras in different styles and colors.
How to Pump Milk at Work
Around one-third of mothers return to work within three months of giving birth. This means they need to figure out how to provide sufficient milk for their newborn during the day.
This can prove to be a challenge, depending on the work environment. Ideally, you should pump your breast milk and store it so your baby never lacks.
You will need to speak to your employer about your needs as a breastfeeding mother.
Some offices offer private rooms specifically for this purpose. They may allow you to use an empty office or conference room where you can lock the door.
There are laws that apply in the U.S where your employer is required to allow you a reasonable break for pumping. They are also obliged to provide a suitable space for you to express breast milk.
This applies to organizations with more than 50 employees. If your workplace does not fall within this category, it is advisable to have a candid conversation with your employer to determine when and where you can pump milk.
At no point should you use a toilet cubicle as a pumping station. It is not hygienic and may expose you and the baby to harmful bacteria.
You may be worried about how much to pump, how often, and how to store the milk. Let’s explain this so you can pump away without any worries.
1. How Often Should You Pump?
If you return to work while your baby is six months old or less you will still have a lot of breast milk.
It is recommended you pump approximately every three hours. This will provide a steady supply of milk as well as keep you comfortable.
The schedule below shows the pumping schedule of an average mother working a 9-5 job.
|5.30 am||1st Pump|
|9.00 am||Pump at work|
|1.00 pm||Pump during lunch break|
|3.30 pm||Pump at work|
|10.30 pm||Pump at home|
|Nighttime||Breastfeed if baby wakes|
Source: Born and Fed
This is a very basic outline that shows how to stagger your pumping sessions throughout the day.
Now, you may have a breast pump which makes it very convenient to express milk, and if you don’t, you will need to do it by hand.
Here’s how to express milk by hand which you may find more comfortable than using a pump.
2. How Much Should You Pump?
As a working mom, it is essential to provide enough milk for your baby to be satisfied while you are away at work.
On average, an infant of six weeks consumes 30ml of milk per hour.
If you are away from your child for 10 hours per day, provide at least 300 ml for your caregiver to give the baby.
This amounts to around one-and-half cups of milk. Some mothers may be able to pump more than this amount. This is not a problem as long as you store it correctly.
3. How Do You Store Breastmilk?
It is very important to safely store breast milk. This will keep it fresh and ensure your baby receives good quality milk.
This table outlines some guidelines on how and where to store pumped breast milk.
|Storage Location & Temperature|
|Type of breastmilk||
77℉ (25℃) or colder
0℉ (-18℃) or colder
|Freshly pumped||Up to 4 Hours||Up to 4 days||6 - 12 months|
|Previously frozen-thawed||1 - 2 hours||Up to 24 hours||Never refreeze once thawed|
|Leftover from feeding||Use within 2 hours after feeding|
Once you pump the milk, place it in storage containers with tight-fitting lids or storage bags. You should not use disposable bottles or bags as they can contaminate the milk.
Place these containers in your office fridge. If you do not have access to one, use an insulated cooler bag with frozen ice packs. This should be able to last until you arrive home.
Do not put milk in the door of the fridge or freezer to avoid temperature changes when opening and closing.
Also, make sure to label the date on which you expressed the milk and use it in sequence.
TIP: Keeping tabs on how often your baby feeds is important and helps you create a feeding schedule. This will ensure you can monitor their daily habits.
Even if you are not at home, your caregiver can update the feeding schedule and record anomalies.
Here is an easy to use printable that can be used to record your baby’s feeding cycles.
Simply print it and place it in an accessible area - the fridge door? - so whoever does the feeding can tick in the relevant space.
Relax, It’s All Been Done Before
So you’ve sorted out the bra, figured out how to pump milk at work, but you still feel a bit overwhelmed… Relax! There are mothers out there who are dealing with the same thing. One thing to remember is - you are not the first one.
Take for example Australian MP, Larissa Waters. She made headlines when she breastfed her child while addressing parliament.
This resulted in the Australian senate changing their views on breastfeeding mothers and has since allowed mothers to breastfeed in chambers.
We’re not saying take your baby to meetings and conferences, but if the need arises, and you are able to, feel no shame in being a mother as well as a working woman.
Rajneesh, an Indian ‘godman’ and public speaker state:
“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.”
As a new mother, take the time to enjoy your new status and keep in mind that your well-being is of the utmost importance.
Start with the simple things - eat well, get enough rest, and take care of your body.
This begins with finding the right bra and with New Bloom’s wide range of maternity bras, there is no better place to begin.
Sure, you will face the daily stresses of being a new mother, but you can at least put one issue behind you and focus on being the best mother you can be.
Feature Image: Freepik