Shove battery electric pump on one breast, pull clothing over to cover pump, start car up and drive. Get to traffic lights, quickly swap pump over to other breast and keep driving. Get to community meeting, store breastmilk in chiller bag with icepack. Place in fridge when I get home a few hours later. Ready for the baby the next day.
There are lots of ways to keep breastfeeding if you go back to work. In every case feeding directly from the breast is preferred. But that reality is not always possible so this scenario is something I have had to do to keep breastfeeding at all. But other days weren’t so chaotic. I would have the use of a private, lockable and clean room to sit and express milk in. My milk was then stored in the communal fridge, inconspicuously placed inside a small chiller bag.
As the main income earner I have always returned to full-time work early with all my babies, at around eight weeks old. Not an ideal choice, not an ideal world. But I am thankful that I was able to choose to keep breastfeeding, some solace to whatever else the babies and I had to sacrifice.
Breastfeeding mums have a right to be supported to keep breastfeeding once they return to work. The precise arrangements must be clearly negotiated and agreed to by the employer and the mum. There is no one way of doing it; expressing milk, arranging to return to baby to feed, having baby with you at work, having baby bought in to you to feed, working from home etc. The most important thing is that mums should be supported to continue breastfeeding if they would like to.
For more information on this check out the Department of Labour website.
I do harp on a bit in chapter 7 of the “Breastfeeding Naturally” DVD which is around ‘Returning to Work’. I am one of two mums who share our experiences of coping with breastfeeding and working .
Or have a look at the Ministry of Health’s page.
If having to express, then knowing about breastmilk storage is important. Breastmilk lasts longer than other milk (Ministry of Health advises 48 hours if stored in the back of the fridge or four hours at room temperature). The Ministry of Health’s guidelines has a lot of great information.
Here’s hoping that women are aware of the choices available to them when considering a return to work outside the home.
Kia kaha ra!