Four months after my son was born, I returned back to teaching a classroom of 26 first graders. To say it was a circus would be an understatement. Now throw in being a first time mom and you have a recipe for an emotional disaster. But after a few weeks we fell into a groove and established a routine. For me, I wanted to be able to provide my son with breastmilk for at least six months. Building a milk supply was never an issue for me – I actually had the opposite problem. (We literally had to buy a deep freeze to store my extra milk but that’s a story for another day.) However, with teaching you can’t just leave your classroom whenever you want. So finding time to pump had to be strategic.
Almost a decade and three kids later, I finally feel confident that I have the whole pumping at work thing down. Here are four tips to keep in mind as you head back to work.
Keep Up the Water
As soon as I felt a dip in my supply, I immediately knew I wasn’t drinking enough water. I kept a water bottle on my desk at all times and every time I looked it, I made sure I stopped to take a drink. When you get back to work, you get busy and often forget about yourself. But keep that water up to help your supply to stay strong!
Purchase a Hands-Free Bra
The hands-free bra was a lifesaver for all three babies. This bra allowed me to type on a computer, grade papers, plan lessons and even eat lunch without stopping the pump and keeping both of my hands free to use. If you can’t find a bra that you like, you can also make your own by cutting two holes in a sports bra that allow you to easily slip and position your pump parts. The hands-free bra is my go-to baby shower gift for all my of my friends because without it, pumping at work would have been way too difficult.
Keep a Pump at Work
I ended up borrowing my friend’s pump for home and keeping my personal pump at work. They were both the same model and that way I never had to worry about forgetting my pump at home. I would also keep two sets of parts at work so I could use one and then take it home to wash but still have another set at work. Investing in multiple parts and tubing is definitely worth it, especially if you plan on breastfeeding for an extended period of time.
Know Your Rights
As a mother in the state of Indiana, your employer must provide you with paid breaks to pump. They also must make the effort to provide a room or other location where you can privately pump – AND NOT IN A BATHROOM STALL. Your employer must also make a reasonable effort to provide a refrigerator to keep breast milk that has been expressed. This is your right as a mother – don’t let your employer tell you otherwise!
If there is one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that the journey of breastfeeding is not a simple one. As a mom, you have worked hard to establish a breastfeeding routine so when you decide to return to work, don’t make that decision break your spirit. You also have so many resources available that you may not even be aware are offered. One thing that I love about Hancock Women+Children is the care that they provide for women both before and after the baby. They offer a variety of resources for mothers, including a FREE breastfeeding class every other month. This class is taught by certified lactation nurses and is intended to help you learn the things you need to know about breastfeeding as well as help you feel more confident about feeding your baby. Hancock Women + Children also provide their mothers with the option of meeting with a lactation consultant to help them get started with breastfeeding. These consultants check in on their mothers daily (Monday through Saturday) to make sure they are comfortable with latching and positioning the infant, and teaching them signs that the baby is getting plenty of milk. Regardless of your journey, there is support and resources that are offered to you!
As you get ready to return to work, remember that while it seems hard right now, it will get easier. Routines will fall into place and things will start to feel more familiar. You will continue to miss that precious baby but you are providing for your family because they need you. But most importantly always remember that you are a good mom. Don’t second guess that. Ever.
The Hancock Women + Children center began as an idea inspired by one particular woman, Fannie Andis, who was critical to founding Hancock Health. Like her, their desire is to offer the best treatment options and most personal care to the women and children of Hancock County.
The first step was to learn more about their specific healthcare needs. It was also important to understand what services, amenities and other qualities the women and children of Hancock County most wanted to see. It was found that comfort was highly valued, that they wanted a place that felt like home. Technology was also important, in both the level used in providing care and the technology available to patients during treatment. Women also wanted modern, state-of-the-art facilities, with a skilled and knowledgeable staff that would be comforting and supportive.
The new Hancock Women + Children is being created with these and other patient desires in mind. They will continue to offer the same personal, one-on-one care that Hancock Health is known for. Setting a new standard of care for the women and children of Hancock County–close to home and readily available. Just as Fanny Andis originally envisioned.