THE SHORT ANSWER IS YES…
But not without some hard work. You’re used to that by now though. At this point, you’ve endured 9 months of pregnancy, a birth (or multiple), and probably that first month of delirium. Now you’re thinking about returning to work, and the thought of trying to pump while keeping your co-workers out and storing all of those bottles and tubes seems a little overwhelming. It’s not as bad as it might appear, with a little planning on the front end you’ll be well on your way to being successful. Here are a few things to consider if you are planning on going back to work and pumping:
1.) Take your full maternity leave, if possible. 6 weeks or longer gives you enough time to establish a good milk supply. Use this time to build your stash up as well, pumping after you feed and freezing any extra milk for daycare or caregivers. You’ll also be able to get used to your pump and your storage system.
2.) Set a goal/make a plan. Think about your workday. When do you go in and when will you be able to get back to your baby? From there, set up your ideal pumping/feeding schedule. For example, if you start work at 8, plan to feed your baby at the latest time you can and still be to work on time. If you feed at 7, plan to take a pump break at 10, pump again on your lunch break, again in the afternoon, and as soon as you pick your baby up, feed her at the breast. You’ll want to breastfeed at home in the evening and during the night to continue to tell your body to make more milk.
3.) Share your plan with your employer. This might seem awkward, but it’s the only way to gain support. Ask if your employer can provide a quiet, private place for you to pump. Ask for permission to take a quick 10-minute break mid-morning and afternoon. You might be surprised by their willingness to accommodate you.
4.) Locate a place to store milk. If you have your own office, consider taking a mini-fridge to put your milk in once your pump it. If you share a fridge in a common area, bring a cooler bag that you can put the milk in before putting it in the fridge. You’ll also want one with some ice packs for the commute home.
5.) Exclusively breastfeed over the weekend. You might notice that your supply drops during the week. Take advantage of the weekend by breastfeeding exclusively and spending lots of time skin to skin. This will tell your body to make more milk.
6.) Teach your caregiver. Don’t be afraid to inform the daycare or babysitter on how you prefer the milk to be thawed (if brought frozen), and how to safely handle your breastmilk. Be sure they know to not leave any milk out, and to store any extra back in the fridge. Another helpful hint is to buy bottle nipples that are slow flow so that your baby doesn’t get used to a fast flow of milk. This can cause them frustration at the breast.
7.) Have a practice day. Feeling nervous about how it’s all going to go? That’s totally normal. Take a day or two before you start back to work and implement your new schedule. This gives you a little time to work out any potential kinks and problem solve before your first day back.