Breastfeeding and Working: How to Balance Both
Breastfeeding is the most natural and healthy way to feed a newborn baby. Breastfeeding offers many benefits for both the infant and the mother, from providing essential nutrients to the baby to reducing the risk of breast cancer and other illnesses for the mother. However, for working mothers, breastfeeding while juggling work can be daunting. This article will cover strategies for balancing breastfeeding and employment, including the benefits of breastfeeding, the challenges working mothers face, and strategies to overcome these challenges.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
There are multiple advantages to breastfeeding for both the infant and the mother. Breast milk is the most complete and nutritious food source for the baby, providing all the necessary nutrients for growth and development. Breast milk also contains antibodies that help protect the baby from illnesses, infections, and diseases. Research has shown that breastfeeding may decrease the likelihood of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), childhood obesity, and asthma.
Breastfeeding also benefits the mother. Breastfeeding releases hormones that help the uterus contract and return to its pre-pregnancy size, which can reduce postpartum bleeding and help the mother recover faster from childbirth. Studies have indicated that breastfeeding may decrease the chances of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis. It also helps mothers bond with their babies and can reduce stress and anxiety.
Challenges of Breastfeeding and Working
While breastfeeding benefits both the mother and the child, working mothers face numerous challenges when balancing breastfeeding and work. One of the primary difficulties is the limited time and inadequate privacy to express breast milk while at the workplace. Many working mothers cannot take breaks to pump, or they do not have a private space to pump. This can lead to a decrease in milk supply, which can cause stress and anxiety for the mother and negatively impact the baby's health.
Another challenge is the lack of support from employers and coworkers. Some employers may not understand the importance of breastfeeding and may not provide adequate accommodations for pumping. Coworkers may also be unsupportive or make the mother feel uncomfortable for taking breaks to pump.
Other challenges include balancing work and family responsibilities, finding childcare that supports breastfeeding, and managing the logistics of transporting breast milk to and from work.
Strategies for Balancing Breastfeeding and Work
Despite these challenges, working mothers can use some strategies to balance breastfeeding and work. The following are some tips that can help:
- Communicate with your employer
It is important to communicate with your employer early on about your intention to breastfeed and pump at work. Discuss your needs for a private space, breaks to pump, and a refrigerator to store breast milk. It's possible to inquire with your employer if they offer a lactation support program or are open to establishing one.
- Plan ahead
Plan for pumping breaks by scheduling them into your workday. You can also prepare a pumping bag with all the necessary supplies, such as a breast pump, milk storage bags, and extra bottles.
- Find a supportive childcare provider.
Find a childcare provider who is supportive of breastfeeding and willing to follow your pumping schedule. You can also provide them with breast milk storage guidelines and instructions for preparing bottles.
- Consider alternative work arrangements.
Consider alternative work arrangements, such as telecommuting or flexible work hours, that allow you to pump more easily. You can also negotiate a shorter workday or a longer lunch break to accommodate pumping.
- Take care of yourself.
Ensure you care for yourself by maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and getting sufficient rest. Stress can negatively impact milk supply, so finding ways to manage stress, such as exercise or meditation, can be helpful.
- Seek support
Join a breastfeeding support group or seek support from other working mothers who have successfully balanced breastfeeding and work. This can provide you with valuable advice, tips, and emotional support.
- Be flexible
Be flexible and adaptable. It's crucial to acknowledge that unforeseen obstacles may surface, and not every day will unfold as anticipated. Be patient and find solutions that work for you and your baby.
- Use technology
Use technology to make pumping and tracking milk supply easier. Some apps can help you track pumping sessions, milk supply, and baby's feeding schedule. Some breast pumps also have smartphone apps that allow you to control the pump and track milk output.
Breastfeeding benefits both the mother and the child, but balancing breastfeeding and work can be challenging for working mothers. Lack of time and privacy to pump, lack of support from employers and coworkers, difficulty in finding supportive childcare, and managing the logistics of transporting breast milk are just some of the challenges working mothers face. However, with proper planning, communication, and support, it is possible to successfully balance breastfeeding and work. By following the strategies outlined in this essay, working mothers can ensure that they continue providing their babies with the numerous benefits of breast milk while meeting their work responsibilities.