Tag Archives | Wendy Wright

Combining Work and Breastfeeding: Successful Strategies and Tools

By Wendy Wright, MBA, IBCLC

Photo by Jerry Bunkers via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Jerry Bunkers via Flickr Creative Commons

In May 2012, I had the opportunity to contribute “Pumping Strategies for the Working Mother” to Lactation Matters. We have had tremendous interest and discussion on this topic, so let’s explore the topic a bit further.

Over the past several years, I have helped hundreds of breastfeeding women in the work force and have found three tools that provide the most help to working mothers:

  1. Creating a breastfeeding calendar
  2. Hands on pumping
  3. Childcare provider education around breastmilk feeding

Creating a Breastfeeding Calendar

Most mothers intending to breastfeed have their due date and back to work date firmly in place on their calendars, so, what about adding other dates that can assist in scheduling and milk supply forecasting? At each Back-To-Work Breastfeeding class I teach we have an exercise where we pull out our calendars, and actually import important dates into them for enhancing breastfeeding success. Here are the dates I help women to import:

  • Due Date: We discuss the importance of being ready, finishing important work projects in plenty of time and handing off responsibilities so there are no last minute phone calls from the hospital.
  • 11-day Growth Spurt: Many new mothers are not aware of this growth spurt and often interpret it as “my baby is not getting enough milk.” By marking it on their calendar, they are more likely to remember being warned about this 11 day push to increase volume and take in stride with greater confidence in their breastfeeding abilities.
  • Three-week growth spurt: Initiating pumping after this growth spurt is a great way to minimize the breastfeeding burden on the mother during the first few weeks. I encourage mothers to allow their infants to “program” their milk supply for the first three weeks, until the growth spurt, and then take on pumping for storage and bottle introduction.
  • Initiate pumping (3 – 4 weeks): A great time to learn about the pump, work pumping into daily routine and begin milk storage for return to work.
  • Introducing a bottle (4 weeks): Breastfeeding should be well established by this point, and the return to work is on the horizon, bottles should be small and only once a day at most but again, once baby takes a bottle, mother’s confidence is enhanced as the return to work grows closer.
  • Return to work date: Other dates, if appropriate or helpful, can be incorporated here as well, such as: secure childcare, test childcare, practice days for returning to work or part time return to work days to get caught up on items missed during leave.
  • Three month growth spurt: Good to have this on the work calendar – mothers often become fearful about supply during this growth spurt, “How can I possibly pump that much?” Once they realize it is only temporary, breastfeeding confidence again return.
  • Introduction of solids (around 6 months): This is a great relief for fully breastfeeding, working mothers. Just knowing that if a meeting runs late or traffic is terrible, the baby can enjoy avocado or banana until the mother returns home tends to lessen stress around milk supply. Milk is of course still the primary source of nutrition yet the stress about exclusivity is reduced as solids are introduced.

Hands-On Pumping

Teaching hand expression and hands on pumping to mothers returning to work can ensure milk supply when the mother and baby are separated. Jane Morton, MD provides a helpful video and has found that adding breast massage and hands on pumping increased mothers’ average daily volumes by 48%.2 This additional pumped milk may make the difference in breastmilk exclusivity for the first six months of life especially once the stress and fatigue of returning to work set in for the very busy working mothers.

Child Provider Education Around Breastmilk Feeding

In California, by three months of age, 41% of mothers are breastfeeding, this means 59% are not. Due to this statistic, many of the care providers in our state have limited experience handling breastmilk. Here are some questions I arm my clients with as they select the care providers for their breastfed infants:

  • Are you familiar with the latest milk storage guidelines?
  • Will you refrigerate and reuse any leftover breastmilk? Let her know the re-use parameters you’re comfortable with, if any (for example, two hours).
  • Will you store a back up supply of my breastmilk in your freezer?
  • Do you require all parents to clearly label milk containers to avoid mix-ups?
  • Will you check with me before supplementing with formula?

I hope these three simple tools help the mothers you are working with ensure success as they return to work while breastfeeding. Anticipatory guidance with the calendar and careful childcare selection along with increasing parental confidence with enhanced breastmilk supply utilizing hands on pumping should help all mothers meet their breastfeeding goals.

References:

La Leche League’s, “The Breastfeeding Answer Book” (1997) by Nancy Mohrbacher,
IBCLC and Julie Stock, BA, IBCLC

Morton J, Hall JY, Wong RJ, Thairu L, Benitz WE, Rhone WD. Combining hand
techniques with electric pumping increases milk production in mothers of preterm
infants. J Perinatol. 2009, July 2.

WEndy WrightWendy Wright, MBA, IBCLC spent 15 years in the biotech industry in the Bay Area and worldwide prior to breaking out on her own and founding Lactation Navigation in 2007. Wendy has a B.S. in Health Services Administration from the University of Arizona and an MBA with a Marketing emphasis from the University of Cincinnati. Wendy’s daughter is 13 and her son is five; both, of course, were breastfed! Lactation Navigation allows Wendy to combine skills learned in the corporate setting over the past 15 years with her love of breastfeeding. It allows her to spend time with her children and also with new mothers. It also encourages health and happiness for other families, and brings bottom-line profits to progressive companies.

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Pumping Strategies for the Working Mother

Written by Wendy Wright, MBA, IBCLC Co-Owner Lactation Navigation – Workplace Lactation Consultants, LLC

The primary focus of my lactation practice is in the workplace.  Why?

  • Mothers are currently the fastest growing segment of the U.S. workforce.1
  • In the past 20 years, the percentage of new mothers in the workforce has increased by more than 80%.2
  • The current level of new mothers in the workforce is 60%.2
  • As we have all witnessed, working outside the home negatively affects initiation and duration of breastfeeding.1
  • One third of working mothers return to work within three months of the birth of their child and two thirds return within six months.1

The three questions I am most frequently asked are:

  1. How often should I pump once I return to work?
  2. How much milk will I need each day?
  3. How should I package milk and store for future use?

Below are my answers – understanding that each woman’s situation is unique and she may or may not be exclusively breastfeeding.  For the purposes of this article, all women are working full time and exclusively breastfeeding!

How often should I pump once I return to work?  Returning to work before your baby is six months old requires expressing milk approximately every three hours when separated.  For example, for an 8-hour shift you will be separated from your baby for about 10 hours (work, lunch break, commute).  Over the 10-hour period, it is recommended that you express milk three times.   Some sample schedules may look like these below.  Notice that I have added in morning (pre-work) and evening (post-work) expression sessions.  These are to assure that mother has enough milk to provide for the time separated and also designed to keep supply high and the mother comfortable.  Some mothers may find that they are able to breastfeeding their babies before they leave for work and right when they get home, making it unnecessary to pump before and after work.  It really is what works best for the mother and baby.

Once your baby is taking well to solids, you may have the opportunity to reduce the number of pumping sessions each day.  Remove the session that is the least productive for you.  Each session should empty the breast – approximately 15 minutes pumping time.

How much milk will I need each day?  Breastfed infants consume approximately one ounce (30ml) per hour when separated from their mother from age 6 weeks until age 6 months.  So, if you are separated for 10 hours Monday – Friday, I recommend providing the caregiver with 10 – 12 ounces (300-365ml) of breastmilk, although some babies may need more.  It is important to review appropriate feeding cues with caregivers so breastmilk is not offered at every cry, fuss or frustration.   Remember, this is only one third of the milk the infant will consume each day – the rest of her consumption will be directly from the breast and she will take what she needs when you are back together.  Many infants will reverse cycle feed thereby getting their primary calorie consumption in the evenings and nights.  Mothers should be aware of this and welcome it as a terrific method for maintaining supply.

How should I package milk and store for future use?  The method that seems to work best for the busy working mother is to start each week on Sunday night by removing 10 – 12 ounces (300-365ml) of frozen breastmilk from the freezer and thawing overnight in the refrigerator.  Milk can then be packaged for the care provider in small bottles (2.5 ounces for example (74ml) for consumption throughout the day on Monday.  The mother will then express milk on Monday.  Monday’s milk will be stored in the refrigerator overnight and provided for baby on Tuesday.  Tuesday’s expressed milk will again be stored overnight in the refrigerator and provided on Wednesday, etc. On Friday, milk is packaged in 1 and 2 ounce bags (30-60ml) and frozen, clearly labeled with the date.  Using this pattern, the baby will only receive frozen breastmilk once each week and the freezer supply will be efficiently rotated.  There is a tendency for less and less milk to be expressed as the stressful week progresses.  Freezing in small packages will allow mom to pull one or two ounces from her freezer on Thursday or Friday if needed without having to defrost and potentially waste 5 ounces (148ml) of frozen breastmilk.

Additional information may be found on-line:

www.LactationNav.com

www.workandpump.com

www.kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/bf-links-pumping/

Reassurance and support can make all the difference for these mothers.  Encourage networking with other breastfeeding mothers at work and plenty of skin to skin time together when mother and baby are home.

 References:

1. United States Breastfeeding Committee. Workplace breastfeeding support [issue paper]. Raleigh, NC: United States Breastfeeding Committee; 2002.

2. U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau. Employment status of women and men in 2008. Available at: http://www.dol.gov/wb/factsheets/Qf-ESWM08_txt.htm. Accessed May 15, 2009.

3. Society for Human Resource Management. 2007 Benefits Survey Report. Available at: http://www.shrm.org. Accessed April 17, 2008.

Wendy Wright, MBA, IBCLC

Wendy spent 15 years in the biotech industry in the Bay Area and worldwide prior to breaking out on her own and founding Lactation Navigation in 2007. Wendy has a B.S. in Health Services Administration from the University of Arizona and an MBA with a Marketing emphasis from the University of Cincinnati. Wendy’s daughter is twelve and her son is five. Both kids love to swim and enjoy bicycling. She is dreadfully fearful of spiders and enjoys spicy food any time of day. Lactation Navigation allows Wendy to combine skills learned in the corporate setting over the past 15 years with her love of breastfeeding. It allows her to spend time with her children and also with new mothers. It also encourages health and happiness for other families, and brings bottom-line profits to progressive companies.

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Clinicians in the Trenches – Wendy Wright

Written by Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC, Owner of the San Diego Breastfeeding Center and Co-editor of Lactation Matters

Last month, I had the pleasure of interviewing Wendy Wright, MBA, IBCLC, and owner of Lactation Navigation, a business committed to empowering mothers, babies, and employers by easing the transition from maternity leave to work through education, preparation and communication for all issues related to breastfeeding.

Robin: Wendy, tell us about Lactation Navigation.

Wendy: Lactation Navigation serves to help women return to work without weaning. We provide our support through three primary pathways: (1) directly working with employers on breastfeeding policy and breastfeeding support programs, (2) directly supporting new mothers through teleconference education, on-site return to work classes, pump rentals and free community classes offered monthly and (3) training lactation consultants to assist employers and mothers in their specific geographical areas.  I have also begun to explore the iphone to assist women in their return to work – the pump@work iphone application has been available since 2010 and is selling well in the Apple store. 50% of proceeds from sales are donated to the California Breastfeeding Coalition.

Robin: How did you decide to focus on workplace lactation for your business?

Wendy: I worked in the crazy up and down world of biotech marketing for 20 years before becoming an IBCLC. During my biotech employment, I gave birth and breastfed two great children. Maddy – currently 12, breastfed for 18 months during which time I traveled for approximately 40% of each workweek. Teague – now 5, breastfed for four years during my last biotech position and my return to school for the IBCLC. I always knew I would breastfeed and would never allow work to get in the way. As I met more and more mothers, it became obvious that returning to work without weaning was very difficult for many – priorities are often confused, commitment levels are not built initially and employment rights are misunderstood. Once I became an IBCLC, the choice to focus on workplace nursing was straightforward and there were very few experts available on the topic.

Robin: What can we do in our communities to promote better workplace lactation support?

Wendy: I would encourage each lactation consultant to work with their local hospital to offer a back to work breastfeeding course at a reduced rate or for free. This will give women a place to turn and an opportunity to network with other mothers in their same position. Lactation Consultants will benefit by gaining referrals, networks and potential corporate clients. Also, get involved with your local breastfeeding coalition – when back to work legislation or breaches of policy occur in your area, you can be the local expert to assist and promote the appropriate breastfeeding resources and support.

Robin: Where can a woman find out what her rights are as a working, breastfeeding mother?

Wendy: The National Conference of State Legislators summarizes each states’ current breastfeeding laws, it was last updated in May 2011. Also important to review is the National Fair Labor Standards Act (part of the Affordable Care Act). The Act has been amended to provide rest breaks and space for employees who are nursing mothers to express breast milk. The amendment became effective on March 23, 2010 – and where there may be a conflict between federal and state law on a particular issue, the amendment specifically provides that the federal law does not preempt a state law providing greater protections. This is great news for all American women and babies!

Robin: What is the most rewarding aspect of your business?

Wendy: I love listening to success stories once women have returned to work. I learn something from each experience and then can apply the new understanding to helping more women successfully balance work and breastfeeding.

Wendy Wright, MBA, IBCLC

Wendy spent 15 years in the biotech industry in the Bay Area and worldwide prior to breaking out on her own and founding Lactation Navigation in 2007. Wendy has a B.S. in Health Services Administration from the University of Arizona and an MBA with a Marketing emphasis from the University of Cincinnati. Wendy’s daughter is twelve and her son is five. Both kids love to swim and enjoy bicycling. She is dreadfully fearful of spiders and enjoys spicy food any time of day. Lactation Navigation allows Wendy to combine skills learned in the corporate setting over the past 15 years with her love of breastfeeding. It allows her to spend time with her children and also with new mothers. It also encourages health and happiness for other families, and brings bottom-line profits to progressive companies.

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Web Resources for IBCLCs Working on Baby Friendly Initiatives

Written by Wendy Wright, MBA, IBCLC

The emphasis on becoming Baby Friendly in the United States is growing.  In fact, in late 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded nearly $6 million over three years to the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality to help hospitals nationwide make quality improvements to maternity care to better support mothers and babies to be able to breastfeed.   Click here for information on getting involved in the NICHQ’s Best Fed Beginnings program.

Where is your institution on the Baby Friendly Spectrum? 

Whether you are considering applying, just initiating the process, or in the depth of completion for certification – here are some web resources that may be useful toward your efforts.

Initially, make sure you have investigated all of the great information directly from Baby Friendly USA.  This site is filled with details, schedules, suggestions, and resources.  It’s a great place to begin your path toward baby friendly.

The breastfeeding coalitions have stepped up and offer some great video resources for those of us in the trenches of the Baby Friendly effort.  Here is a catchy, simple video from breastfeedLA.org.  IBCLCs could utilize this to introduce the 10 steps, congratulate staff for accomplishing several of the steps, or to motivate staff to progress through the Ten Steps – take a look!

Another coalition, this time in Massachusetts, is pulling together a baby friendly hospital rap video to emphasize that breastfeeding costs nothing and has no downside.  The video is currently in its teaser stage – take a look and contribute if the effort inspires you.

The California Department of Health recently published a new training toolkit on its website.  This toolkit is designed for both administrators and the interdisciplinary team that will develop and implement the new policies to support and promote breastfeeding.  The reference list alone is worth visiting the site!

Lastly, as a previous marketing executive, I just have to share some motivational and promotional YouTube contributions from some Baby Friendly hospitals.  These videos would be great to produce once you reach Baby Friendly status, however, they can also be utilized to demonstrate to administration the potential marketing advantages the Baby Friendly Designation can provide.   “Wouldn’t it be great if our hospital had this type of press coverage?”

Texas Health Celebrates “Baby-Friendly” designation for three hospitals.

Mission Hospital becomes the first Baby Friendly hospital in North Carolina.

Harlem Hospital becomes the first hospital in New York City to gain Baby Friendly recognition.

As stated by William H. Dietz, MD, PH.D, director of the United States Center of Disease Control’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. “We know that breastfeeding rates are higher in Baby-Friendly hospitals, yet only 5 percent of babies in this country are born in these facilities. We need to help hospitals improve their maternity care to better support breastfeeding.”  I’m hoping these web resources assist with your important efforts.

Please add additional web resources to the comments section below so we can all benefits from the wealth of information available via the Internet.

Wendy Wright, MBA, IBCLC Co-Owner Lactation Navigation – Workplace Lactation Consultants, LLC

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Hands-Free Breastfeeding

Most breastfeeding talks and support groups eventually get to the question – “How long should I breastfeed?” As an IBCLC, I offer the AAP Guidelines (American Academy of Pediatrics) as the basis for my answer, as I imagine most of you do. We are recommending a minimum of six months and up to two years and beyond – sounds great,  however, in order to make this work for the average busy mother – we should also provide some tools to assist her in accomplishing her goal.

This is where Hands-Free Breastfeeding comes in. The ability to feed baby and accomplish another task at the same time (talk on the phone, type, cook or care for another baby) can offer breastfeeding mothers the needed support they will require at some point during their nursing career.

How can you demonstrate hands-free breastfeeding and stay on schedule with appointments and rounds?

YouTube is the perfect classroom for the breastfeeding mother. She can watch at her leisure, in the privacy of her own home, pause, review and watch some more. We offer several videos here – some are more professional than others. Watch them all and select the one that “speaks” to your clients. We also encourage you to look for additional videos (there are new ones posted every day!) and share on this blog!

Pros: Simple, short and anyone can do this
Cons: Mothers may not have this type of wrap
I see LC’s referring mothers to this video in newborn classes, in newsletters and on their blogs. A great, simple resource.

Bonus Video:  (another mother breastfeeding in the Moby)

Hands-free pumping bras also come to mind when I think of hands-free breastfeeding, a guide on these can be found here at mommasbaby.com So, next time you have a mother ask “How long should I breastfeed?” you will not only have a medically supported (AAP) factual answer – but you’ll also have some mother-to-mother videos to share and improve her likelihood of breastfeeding for six months and beyond.. Enabling the pumping mother to go hands-free will allow for breast massage, compression and multi-tasking.  A snug fit is best, and if pumping frequently, encourage her to purchase two bras, if possible, so there can always be one in the laundry.

Are you currently incorporating YouTube video recommendations into your practice?

If so, which ones? and When?

What are your favorite videos?

What other ideas do you have to share about YouTube videos and our important work?

Wendy Wright MBA, IBCLC
Guest Blogger – Utilizing the web to reach our breastfeeding target market
Co-owner Lactation Navigation – Workplace Lactation Consultants, LLC
www.LactationNav.com

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