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Breastfeeding and Employment: Best Tips from Lactation Professionals

“How can I make lactation work with my employment?” Breastfeeding (or chestfeeding) and work questions are some of the most common questions received here at Lactation Matters.

We asked our members to share some tips  and strategies with families.

“Talking to your employer prenatally is essential! I’ve found in working with parents in a variety of fields from military to office to restaurants that having this conversation while pregnant helps a lot! Give a proposed schedule to your employer and even discuss the business case for breastfeeding if they should have concerns. Some countries provide protections for working parents—that is worth looking up. Lastly, find a lactation consultant and talk about pumping logistics for while you’re at work, hands-on pumping, when to start collecting milk after having baby, and be sure you’re properly fitted for a pump!” – Tori LaChapelle Sproat, IBCLC

“Keep an eye on how many milk removals (breastfeeds plus pumps) you do in a day. Keeping that “Magic Number” steady after you go back to work should prevent a dip in milk production.” – Nancy Morbacher, IBCLC

“Avoid over-feeding when using a bottle, so that the parent can keep up with the baby’s needs when separated.” – Laura Spitzfaden, IBCLC

“If you have a healthy, term baby that is exclusively breastfed, you don’t need to wash pump parts after  every pumping session. The time saved by tossing the parts in a refrigerator and washing them once at the end of the day really adds up—sometimes it even provides enough time to squeeze in a short pumping session.” – Erica Charpentier, IBCLC

“The strategies that work for one type of job might not be ones that work in another industry. In the U.S., there are a number of tools designed both for parents and for local advocates to use to educate, strategize, and build the business case for breastfeeding. Check out this resource that shows common solutions by industry. And here’s a presentation you can use in your own community.” – Cathy Carothers, IBCLC

“Congratulations on your decision to provide your milk to your baby while you go back to work! Working and breastfeeding/chestfeeding parents really have two jobs, which can be particularly exhausting. It’s worth talking with your employer and with HR ahead of time to make a milk-expressing plan. [If you reside in the United States], The Business Case for Breastfeeding is an absolutely brilliant website you can share with your employer explaining how much money they will save by supporting you in pumping for your baby. If your employer has more than 50 employees, they are obligated to provide a private, non-bathroom space with a sink and fridge for you to pump. Explaining how this benefits their bottom line is essential. Your insurance company should provide you with a pump. If you can, attend a La Leche League meeting in your community or visit an online forum for advice on the best pumps for your situation, and to figure out a pumping schedule. If you do have the opportunity to meet with an IBCLC before your baby is born, or while you are on leave (if you have any leave!), she or he can help you plan for expressing your milk while at work, and breastfeeding when you are with your baby. Good luck!” – Betsy Hoffmeister, IBCLC

Find an IBCLC to help with your questions about lactation and employment or your other breastfeeding questions.

Find an IBCLC®

What is an IBCLC?

An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC) is a healthcare professional specializing in the clinical management of breastfeeding and lactation.

An IBCLC® is an invaluable asset to breastfeeding families, reassuring you when lactation are going well, and by providing information and support to help prevent and manage common concerns. IBCLCs help with:

  • Prenatal counseling about the factors that may affect breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and lactation
  • Basic position and latch of the infant
  • Information about practices that promote successful lactation
  • Preventing and managing common concerns such as poor latch, inadequate milk transfer or supply, nipple or breast/chest pain, and calming a fussy baby
  • Milk expression and storage for parents who must be separated from their babies
  • Strategies for lactation after returning to work
  • Breastfeeding and lactation in challenging situations, such as feeding twins or triplets, a premature or sick infant, or infants in special medical situations.

Lactation consultants, do you have other tips to share?

Families, do you have questions? Share them here!

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