You may think that it’s impossible to have a successful breastfeeding relationship whilst having a career; it’s harder, yes, but certainly not impossible.
If you have chosen to return to work and continue breastfeeding, there are a few things to consider.
Depending on the age of your baby and the amount of hours you plan to work, you will have to think about expressing your milk at work. In most places, the law requires your employer to provide a comfortable, private place in which to express your milk and somewhere clean and safe to store it. They also must let you have frequent breaks in which to express your milk.
If your baby is very little when you plan to return to work, you will need to pump often in order to keep your supply going and to get enough milk out to give to your baby. The milk that you pump whilst at work can be refrigerated and used the following day when you are at work. See our article on safe storage of breast milk for more information. You could even talk to your employer about having your baby’s caregiver bring them to you for feeding during the day. This will actually work in their favour as well as yours, because your baby will likely be able to empty the breast a lot quicker than a pump.
If you aren’t planning on returning until your baby is older, you won’t have to spend quite so much time pumping. Of course, this all depends on your baby’s requirements and how often they feed. All children are different. You should aim for at least as many pumping sessions as you would normally feed your baby, plus a couple more in there for good measure. Pumping isn’t as effective at stimulating the breast as a baby is.
If your baby is 6 weeks old or less when you return to work, it is best to try to avoid using bottles if at all possible. Little babies will happily take milk from a syringe, spoon or cup, and this will help them avoid nipple confusion. After 6 weeks, using a bottle shouldn’t bother them too much but all children are different; it is best to put off using a bottle for as long as you can.
It is reasonable to expect your baby to nurse more frequently when you are at home with them, or at night time. This is a natural reaction to the separation from you. It is best to allow them to nurse as much as they want, in order to ease the transition for them.