The many protective substances and antibodies in breastmilk help your baby fight against infection and allergies. More importantly, breastfeeding enhances the bonding between you and your baby.
Mothers who breastfeed often feel a strong sense of closeness towards their babies and vice versa.
Prior to the arrival of your newborn, you are most often faced with the decision on how to feed your baby. Breastmilk is the ideal food for your baby as it contains all the nutrition that he needs in the first six months. You can continue to breastfeed your baby till he is two years old and beyond if you can supplement his diet with semi-solid food.
For working mothers, one factor which often discourages them from breastfeeding or giving up once they return to work is how to balance breastfeeding with their tight working schedules. The good news is that with adequate preparation and adjustment you can still continue with breastfeeding.
Preparation should start soon after your delivery. It involves:
Expressing breastmilk, weaning from the breast and preparing the caregiver should start at least two weeks before you return to work.
After your delivery, you should breastfeed your baby as soon as possible. This will help you establish your milk supply early. Giving supplementary formula feeds will reduce your baby's chance to suckle at the breast and reduce the stimulation of the breast, thus decreasing your milk production.
You can learn the correct techniques of breastfeeding while you are in the hospital. Consult the nurse or lactation consultant at the wards should you be in doubt. Breastfeeding your baby exclusively during the first four weeks will help to build up your milk supply.
After four weeks of exclusive breastfeeding, you may start to express and store your breastmilk. You can express your milk either by hand or using the breast pump which you can purchase or rent easily. Adopt the method that best suits you.
Start by expressing once a day before gradually increasing the frequency according to the number of feeds which your baby will miss while you are at work. In the meantime, continue to breastfeed your baby directly.
Some mothers are concerned that their babies will become so used to feeding at the breast that they will reject bottle feeds. This can be prevented if you let your baby learn to feed from the bottle after the first four weeks.
However, do not introduce the bottle until your baby has learnt to suck well at your breast. Introducing the bottle too early will confuse your baby, as the sucking actions are different.
When you wish to introduce the bottle to your baby, let your husband or a family member offer the bottle instead to prevent your baby from searching for your breast. You may start to bottle feed your baby with expressed breast milk once a day when he is one month old. Two weeks before returning to work, slowly increase the frequency according to the number of feeds which your baby will miss while you are at work. This will help your baby gradually adjust to the change.
In preparing the caregiver, it is important to make sure that she understands and supports breastfeeding. Some people are concerned that giving expressed breast milk stored in the refrigerator will cause the baby to have abdominal "wind". This is a misconception as expressed breast milk from the refrigerator can be warmed before baby drinks it.
In addition, the protein in the breastmilk is easily digestible, thus reducing the chances of the baby developing "wind". Moreover, this method of feeding has successfully enabled mothers to combine work with breastfeeding.
Educate and reassure your caregiver that expressed breastmilk still continues to provide the nutrients and protective substances which your baby needs to stay strong and healthy.
Breastfeed “on demand” on weekends or when you are not working. You can “reconnect” with your baby and increase milk supply simultaneously.
As a working mother, you can continue breastfeeding after you have returned to work. You should express your milk during breaks at work and give it to your baby the next day when you are not at home. Meanwhile, continue with direct breastfeeding when you are with your baby. Breastfeed “on demand” on weekends or when you are not working. You can “reconnect” with your baby and increase milk supply simultaneously.
Under unforeseen circumstances, working mothers may not have time to express their milk. This may cause the milk to accumulate, thus causing a hard and painful breast. You can prevent this by allowing yourself to have a quick five-minute expressing. This quick expressing will help relieve the tension with the release of some milk from your breast. This will prevent your breast from becoming full and uncomfortable. Expressing to make yourself comfortable is important even if you do not have the time to express and store the milk.
Leaking of breastmilk may occur in some mothers. Using absorbent padding can help to ease the discomfort. Folding the arm across your chest to apply pressure on the nipple may help to stop the flow. Wearing a floral material will help conceal any staining on the clothing. Wearing a jacket also helps to conceal the wet clothing when leaking occurs.
Your desire to combine breastfeeding with your work is a commitment on your part. Your husband and family members need to understand this to support you.
Fatigue from work, looking after the baby, handling household chores and breastfeeding may often cause you to be both physically and emotionally drained. Constant encouragement from your husband will lend a psychological boost for you to persevere. Getting help from your family members in looking after the baby and doing some of the household chores will also relieve you from some of the physical strain and will allow you to have more rest.
The emotional and physical support from your husband is crucial as it will strengthen your relationship and will enhance your success in breastfeeding your baby for as long as possible.
Most working mothers will be able to successfully combine working with breastfeeding once they are able to establish their milk supply before they start work. There will be some adjustment during the initial period when you have returned to work. Most important of all, you should enjoy the time spent with your baby.
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