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#1 Combining Work and Breastfeeding

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#1 pixiefish

Posted 26 April 2007 - 03:09 PM

Welcoming all posters who are combining work and breastfeeding....!

Here is a special corner for you all to chat and get tips and offer advice... or if you just wish to express yourself (tongue.gif) sorry that was lame but I couldn't resist..

A EB member by the name of Candida has also offered a Breastfeeding/Pumping tips document that she has collected and you can find the link here.

Please note that this is a collection of tips from the blog: alittlepregnant.com. EB is not responsible for any of its contents and EB members are still advised to seek personal help if problems persist.

#2 KirbyCat

Posted 26 April 2007 - 04:27 PM

This is a good topic, thank-you!! I have an 8 week old DS and am returning to work in 8 weeks, so he will be 16 weeks old. He is currently fully breastfed, I will be doing three 12hr shifts per week, which will be nights and days. I have a handheld pump but I find it very hard to express more than about 60 ml per side. I would love to hear what other people do in this situation. I would love to keep my supply going while at work so I can continue to BF. I have been giving the occaisional bottle of formula which he takes no problem, so at least DH will be able to feed him. Do you think this will affect my supply if I express what I can at work? I BF DD until she was 15 months but I didn't return to work until she was 9 months.

#3 lady*of*thelake

Posted 26 April 2007 - 04:42 PM


Jumping in and joining this thread just to say I will be watching and participating eagerly. Just pumped 90ml to add to my freezer stash. Returning to work next Tuesday!

#4 mommysbabygirls

Posted 26 April 2007 - 05:13 PM

I also have returned to work 1 day per week. I had a really good freezer stash of EBM but my DH found that she wouldnt drink it and made her more upset for me. So we have the s26 bottle(only one bottle as 2 is pushing the friend ship) when I'm at work.

#5 jactela

Posted 26 April 2007 - 07:31 PM

hi there,

Im heading down this path in the middle of june, I havent started expressing as yet, mostly cause i dont know where to start lol. Though i have a pump that my friend has lent me.

Isabella will be 7 mths old when i return to work, and im thinkin git may be easier to just put her on formula when im at work. Shes never had it, and im hoping that she will take it, otherwise there will be problems wont there lol.

I was never able to express when i had ashley, but i never had to go to work until ways after he had weaned himself.

Just the thought of returning to work and leavign my baby makes me feel nauseous. God i have to fidn daycare still as well.

I never imagined it was going to be this difficult

#6 *maddierose*

Posted 26 April 2007 - 10:48 PM

can i jump in too, i haven't returned to work and not sure when i will just yet as ds refuses the bottle. I am a preschool teacher so ds will be at my centre but in a different room so i'm hoping to be able to feed him in my lunch break but the rest will be ebm. I will only be returning for 2 days to start with 10 hr shifts and am worried too on the affect long hrs will have on my supply. So am here hoping to gain lots of info etc before returning.
LADY OF THE LAKE; ooh goodluck for your first day back, will be looking in to see how you coped.

#7 pinotgrigio

Posted 27 April 2007 - 10:35 AM

Hi Ladies
Thanks pixiefish for setting this up   original.gif

Well I am back at work for the second day. So far everything is sort of going to plan. I'm working full time and will be away from home about 11 hours everyday including the outrageously long bus trip. A bit less if I drive, but I don't like driving home during the evenings when I'm really tired.

Mark is 7 months old & normally has 5-6 BF per day, so I am planning on feeding him when he wakes up, then as soon as I get home, then again before he goes to bed, which means he'll get 2-3 bottles of expressed milk during the day. I've had problems with low supply & it took about 5 months to get BF working for us, so I really don't want to give it up now.

I'm hoping I can express 3 times during the day, but it's not going to be easy to get that time. I am allowed to have breaks, which is good, but from previous experience in this job, it's not always easy to get away when I need to.

I'm not a great expresser either, I can get about 80 mls each time, so I've built up a bit of a stash in the freezer to start off with. I'm hoping that I can work from home a couple of days a week so I can still feed & not have to rely on pumping so much.

My first day back was OK. The anticipation was worse than actually coming back. I was a real mess for weeks leading up to it but when I left home I was surprisingly calm, and Mark didn't even seem to notice I was leaving  sad.gif

But it was so good to get home again! He put on the biggest grin and just squealed with excitement when he saw me! Then we had a really long feed.

So all in all it was OK.
Looking forward to chatting with you all & seeing how everyone goes & hopefully we can keep each other motivated !

jactela - I know what you mean about feeling so bad about returning to work. I've been upset about it for months before I actually wnet back, just the thought of leaving Mark had me in tears many times. People told me it would be OK, and it was OK, but I'd still rather be at home with him. At least he's home with his dad, but I still miss him like crazy.

liz21 - I'm not so good at expressing either. I didn't want to use formula, but I know that if I can't keep up with pumping & feeding I'll probably have to. But if you keep pumping during the day and feeding whenever you can when you're home, hopefully it won't affect your supply. I kwo I'll be feeding as much as I can the times I am home, so my supply will hopefully not drop off!

Bye for now !

#8 KirbyCat

Posted 27 April 2007 - 10:47 AM

I'm concerned that I won't be able to express enough during my shifts, I supposedly get 3 half hour expressing breaks to be taken with morning tea/ lunch, but in a 12 hour period my boobs will get so hard and sore!! Hope the dreaded mastitis doesn't rear it ugly head!!

sleepydwarf, do you keep the breastmilk you express at work??

#9 jactela

Posted 27 April 2007 - 11:34 AM

i have no idea who the hell im going to get time to express at work. IM a nurse and we have to carry pagers with us at all time and answer the bells as soon as they ring (i work in a private hospital so dont keep our patients waiting) i dont know how my boss will feel about me taking breaks to express during the day either. I know i can go sit in one of the rooms during lunch and express but dont get time apart from a 15 min breakfast/cuppa break to do it

Does your employer have to gie you that time???

#10 lady*of*thelake

Posted 27 April 2007 - 12:56 PM

Hey Jactela,

If you haven't discussed it with your employer yet, I would recommend you do it sooner rather than later. But they shouldn't kick up a fuss.

Best thing that you could do to cover yourself would be to get a medical certificate from your GP stating that you are a breastfeeding mother and that you *require* two (or however many) breaks per shift in order to express. Otherwise you could end up with mastitis - and if work doesn't allow you the time, that could very well end up being a work-related illness/injury  grin.gif

I doubt in this day and age they will make too much of a fuss, but if they did, you would also have reasonable grounds for discrimination on the basis of sex/parenthood status.

HTH original.gif

#11 mamaknits

Posted 27 April 2007 - 02:00 PM

I returned to work when my baby was 13+  weeks old.He is 16+ weeks old now. I express and let the daycare centre feed him twomeals a day. I used to feed him at lunch time but he seems to be weaning himself off the midday meal now. I express in the first aid room at my office (one of the few rooms without glass walls and windows!). Oh, and I express twice a day.

#12 cinnabubble

Posted 27 April 2007 - 04:23 PM

Hi all,

I will be returning to work on Monday  cry1.gif  and am hoping to continue breastfeeding my daughter, who is 6.5 months, until she is a year old.

I am lucky, as my daughter will be with her father for the four days I'll be at work (I'll also do half a day a week from home), so he will be managing the whole feeding thing. He has also promised to bring her in at lunchtime for the first week I'm back at work so that I can feed her and not miss her quite so much wub.gif .

On Mondays and Wednesdays he will be picking me up at 3.30/4pm so he can drop me and the baby at home so he can go to work. He also works all day on Thursday and Saturday. I will work longer on Tuesday and Friday and work from home a half day on Thursday.

It's going to be hectic, but we're doing all we can to maximise the time we each spend with the baby and avoid childcare, which is both really expensive and almost impossible to get in the part of Sydney where we live. I put our daughter's name down on a waiting list when I was 14 weeks pregnant and haven't heard a thing, so it's lucky we can work around it.

She has also just started solids, so we're hoping to cram solids into her during the day, while I feed on demand in the mornings and after work, plus on the three days I'll be with her the whole time.

I will be expressing at work, probably once on the shorter days and twice on the long days. This is a guess, as the longest I have been without seeing the baby is six hours and I had to express during that time. I have 1.5 litres of EBM ready to go in the freezer, we know that she'll take a bottle and I have sippy cups on standby just in case.

I have an Avent Isis IQ electric pump in the snazzy (not) returning to work briefcase/handbag, which includes a "discreet" bag for putting bottles of EBM in the work fridge so the eyes of my colleagues are not assaulted by the by-products of my breasts, so I'm good to go.

I just got a really lovely email from my wonderful boss a minute ago, promising to be gentle with me at least until morning tea time on Monday. You can't ask fairer than that  cool.gif .

Sleepydwarf: you're an inspiration. I have been dreading the return to work for a long time, and actually managed to postpone it for five weeks, but I have to suck it up now, so it's great knowing that it's not as bad as I dread it will be. And the homecoming seems to make up for it too  wub.gif .

Gosh I do go on. Must stop now.


Edited by cinnabubble, 27 April 2007 - 10:46 PM.

#13 pinotgrigio

Posted 27 April 2007 - 09:41 PM

you could end up with mastitis - and if work doesn't allow you the time, that could very well end up being a work-related illness/injury

I never thought of that!! Next time I get stuck in a meeting I might have to use that as an excuse to get out of it. D'you think anyone would know where to look  laughing2.gif

Jactela - I would've thought a hospital would be pretty keen to encourage BF mums, what with the health benefits of BF & all that, but i hear what you're saying about finding time to express. I work in an office and even then it's hard to get out at the times I need to go.
Does your employer have a breastfeeding policy, or is there something in your workplace agreement/contract about it - maybe check with your human resources/personnel area. Are you in a union? Would they be able to help you out if you don't get anywhere talking to your boss?

liz21- yes I keep the expressed milk just in a little 6 can esky with as many ice bricks as I can fit in. It keeps it cold enough till I can get home. I thought that would be better (and less embarrassing  blush.gif ) than leaving it in the fridge at work that gets opened every 5 minutes.

Hi cinnabubble, good to hear from you again! My DH is staying at home to do the child care thing as well - sounds like you will both get a really good amount of time with DD. I hope it works out for you. I have the same pump minus the travel/carry bag. I'm carrying everything round (including the esky) in a supermarket green bag. Very attractive, not to mention stylish  tongue.gif  I hope Monday goes well for you & that it isn't too bad for you (and that I haven't misled you - and you're right, the homecoming is the best bit of the day)

My boss has just told me that working from home for a couple of days a week like I'd originally thought isn't likely to be an option coz HR have said they only allow that under 'exceptional circumstances' and when they do allow it you have to have a proper workstation that's approved by the OH&S people etc etc etc. So there goes my plans of being able to feed a couple of extra days a week & being pretty sure I can express enough for the days I'm not home. I don't know if I'll be able to keep my supply up if I only get 2 full days of feeding and have to pump 5 days in a row. But we'll see. I can only do what I can do.

I'm allowed to do one day a week at home for the next 4 weeks & then I have to decide what I want to do - I could just work 4 days a week, or maybe I can convince them that it's working fine & I don't need a workstation & that the arrangement should continue. After all it's not going to be forever, most likely only till DS is 12 months, so really I'm only asking for just under 5 months of this.

Anyway enough rambling. I'm just glad I've made it through the first two days & it's the weekend.

#14 2FairyGirls

Posted 27 April 2007 - 10:10 PM

Hi -

So good to read all of your inspirational stories!!  I really hope it goes well for you.

I have been back at work for a few months now.  DD is over 12 months, and I am away from her for 7 hours, 3 days per week.  During this time she takes water or cows milk and naturally lunch plus snacks!

She takes a lovely long BF after daycare is finished!  

She also feeds at night about 2 or 3 times.  (I assume mostly comfort).

When I am not at work she feeds on demand, and she can get quite demanding.  Am wondering what other mothers do when they are at home?  Do you feed whenever you want to, or do you try to go by the same schedule as your workdays so baby doesn't get confused?

jactela :
I would certainly negotiate before you return to work re expressing breaks.  I was able to negotiate a location for my work.  I work in consulting and typically can be located anywhere in Sydney.  I told them I was BFing and wished to continue until 2 (the WHO recommendation) so I needed to be in a location close to the main office of my company - where the daycare center is.   This is so that I can feed  if I wished or needed to due to enlarged boobs,  and also minimised my time away from DD.  Surprisingly they agreed!  (scared of sexual discrimiation I guess - or maybe my boss, who is male, just didn't want to go into details about my boobs  laughing2.gif  laughing2.gif !?)

Given our BFing relationship is now over 12 months I have been lucky to not experience any mastistis issues, and have not had to express at work.  Thank goodness.  

Would be interested in chatting to any extended BFers who are working and finding out how your toddler deals?  If it lead to weaning quicker or later etc etc?

#15 KirbyCat

Posted 28 April 2007 - 11:36 AM

jactela, I'm also a nurse, so I know exactly your predicament!! I work in a public hospital and its part of our award that we have a breastfeeding policy. Mind you, for me to go and express I have to arrange for another nurse to watch my patient (I'm in ICU) and of corse they're always too busy!! Plus I have to express in the staff toilet. I a little bit panicy over the whole thing. I don't want mastitis or for my supply to drop off.

CatherineM is right, it is a WHO recommendation and I thought most work places had to have a breastfeeding policy, I don't know how the new IR laws affect this though.

#16 pinotgrigio

Posted 29 April 2007 - 06:14 PM

Hi CatherineM
Am wondering what other mothers do when they are at home? Do you feed whenever you want to, or do you try to go by the same schedule as your workdays so baby doesn't get confused?

With my whole 2 days experience of this  tongue.gif  I'm just feeding whenever bubs seems to want it on the days I'm home (weekends), so he might get an extra feed in on the weekends, depends on how/when he sleeps.

I have to say I didn't enjoy my first 2 days back at work. It felt very weird to keep jumping up & going to the 'rest' room to pump. It also seems to make for a very fractured day, and I find it hard to get settled in. I'm hoping it's something I'll get used to. I'm going to try taking the breaks earlier in the morning and just before I go home in the afternoon, as well as lunch time, so I have bigger blocks of time at my desk. Since my commute is so long there should be enough time to build up supply for the evening feed as soon as I get home as well.

#17 *maddierose*

Posted 29 April 2007 - 10:34 PM

SLEEPYDWARF; sorry to hear that u didn't much enjoy your first few days back. Hope it gets easier 4 u.

I'm starting to get a bit of a stash, Going to speak to my boss about breastfeeding policy, my company supports bf and has that lil sign but i'm guessing thats for the childrens mothers that attend the centre. Also a bit concerned as being a preschool we really need to keep the child/staff ratio. i think we'll be having a floater so hopefully she'll be able to float into my room. I get half hr lunch aswell as 2 10 min breaks so may be able to feed bubs a lil more then expressing. But think it will be hard on ds with me coming and going from his room. Still very undecided as to when i'll return.

#18 loujay

Posted 30 April 2007 - 03:03 PM


I'm not really joining as I've left all this behind, but I thought I would add my experiences as some encouragement.

I returned to work full time when our DD was 11 weeks and she was breastfed/EBM fed until 13months.

It was tough, especially as I had two overseas trips without her - one at 4mth and the second at 10mths. This just required massive production and logistics efforts. At one point I had about 7.5 litres in the freezer.

The key is keep pumping and feeding. I tried to reduce pumping to once a day at work, and my supply dropped so I had to increase again. When ever I returned from being away, my supply suffered as well so had to fit in extra pumps.

I started with a manual Avent, then realised my hand was about to drop off, so bought a Medela double electric.

It was tough and reduced me to tears many times, mainly because I was putting so much pressure on myself, which in turn negatively affected supply as well.

BUT IT WAS WORTH IT!!! Our DD had 2 days creche a week from 11 weeks. Some days she was the only one in the room as all the others were home sick. She **didn't catch** Chicken pox, hand foot and mouth disease, Gastro, conjunctivitis, and others I can't remember now.

So keep going, you're making your life easier in the long run.


#19 lady*of*thelake

Posted 30 April 2007 - 09:45 PM

Wow loujay....that is INCREDIBLE! Thanks for sharing your story, and it's for reasons like the health ones that keeps me inspired to do this.

Back to work tomorrow - shall be armed with my stylish, woman-about-town Medela double pump. Just did a quick inventory of my freezer stash and there's about 3.5 litres there as back-up for emergencies and times where travel is unavoidable. Fingers crossed it will all go OK!

#20 *maddierose*

Posted 30 April 2007 - 10:13 PM

LOUJAY; wow thanks for sharing your experience with us. sounds like you did a brilliant job well done.

LADY*OF*THELAKE; best of luck for your first day back.

#21 papilio

Posted 30 April 2007 - 10:20 PM

I have been reading this thread with much interest, it certainly brings back memories!  I returned to work when W was 5.5 months and expressed until she was 10 months old.  At this point in time my contract finished and she was only in care one day a week and drank water on this day.  

On work days I would feed her at 6am before getting up, then when I picked her up and we got home at about 5:30pm, the first thing we did was sit down and have a big relaxing feed.  It is a routine I remember with much fondness.  

I'm in awe of the mothers here who have litres and litres in their freezer, I was never that organised!  

Would be interested in chatting to any extended BFers who are working and finding out how your toddler deals?

I fed W until she was 2 yrs and 1 month, I think that the determination to express at work goes hand in hand with the determination required to breastfeed past 12 months!  

I only weaned because I fell pregnant and had hyperemesis, child led weaning was my goal, but I barely had enough energy for myself...   cry1.gif

Like loujay, I've noticed that W is rarely sick, but I guess this winter will be the litmus test.  The last time she had any days off CC was in December for a very mild case of Chicken Pox - she wasn't immunised.  She had Wednesday and Thursday off and was well enough to return on Monday.  

Keep up the good work!

#22 pinotgrigio

Posted 01 May 2007 - 08:39 AM

It's so great to hear from people who have done this successfully. Right now in the early days it seems so hard & so different from anything I've ever done - I feel like I'm not really a full time worker, but definitely don't feel like a full time mum either. I keep wondering what my colleagues think of me dashing off all the time, excusing myself from meeting, leaving early, feeling like an intruder everytime I go into the HR guy's office to get the key to the first aid room . .  etc. So stories like we're hearing here are fantastic to keep reminding me why I'm doing this in the first place & to encourage me to keep going.

Before I had DS & knew anything about BF I thought people who expressed at work were a bit weird & wondered why they did it. So I keep wondering if people at my work who don't know anything about BF think the same about me now !! But really, even though it feels a bit weird, who really cares what anyone else thinks?

I've adjusted my pump times a bit to try & minimise the time I'm away from my desk & try to be less disruptive to my day (if that is ever possible!!). Yesterday I pumped at 9:30 after I've got in & done all those things you do when you first get in but before getting settled, then at 1:30 lunchtime, then at 4:30 and left work immediately afterwards rather than trying & do it at 4, then come back to my desk for 30 minutes. I got about 80-90 mls in the morning & afternoon & a massive 130 mls at lunchtime, so am hoping that will keep up.

Good luck today lady*of*thelake - let us know how you go.

Question - how much EBM do all your bubs have during the day? I thought DS would have a lot more, but DH has said he's only been having 300 ml all up (in three feeds). Doesn't seem like much for 10-11 hours, but he has a big BF in the morning, another one as soon as I get home & then another one before bed, so maybe he's fine. I'd think if he wanted more he'd be letting DH know.

OK back to work. Have a good day everyone  original.gif

#23 DrMinx

Posted 01 May 2007 - 09:57 AM

THANKYOU for this thread, it is riveting reading for me - I am returning to work in July when DD will be 7 1/2 months old, and am absolutely petrified about it. I still haven't left DD with a carer (even DH) for longer than about 1 1/2 hours. Tomorrow will be the first day leaving her with my mum for a few hours; hoping to build up gradually.

Please keep sharing your stories; both good and bad. It helps put my mind at ease that it is possible to work and continue breastfeeding. I'd particularly love to hear if anyone was in my situation of not really having much bottle-feeding experience before the return to work.


#24 pixiefish

Posted 02 May 2007 - 04:37 PM


#25 lady*of*thelake

Posted 02 May 2007 - 05:31 PM

Well, survived the first couple of days - yay! My industrial Medela Pump-in-style is working really well.

I've worked out a system to get the First Aid Room key without bothering anyone too much, and to set up, pump and return to desk can all be done in about 20-25 minutes. The double pumping ability of the Medela unit REALLY helps - and I've discovered the interesting fact that, inspite of me thinking my right side is the "difficult" one, when both are full, the right side actually produces WAY more milk! This morning's pumping effort got 110mls on the right and 70mls on the left. I take a small cooler bag with the 4 bottles and have written myself a not saying "ICE BRICK" which I put on top of my handbag as soon as I get home. That's to remind me to grap the thing out of the freezer before I leave in the mornings.

I'm cutting my teeth on a new challenge tomorrow - travelling to Canberra. So I have to be up at 6am, feed the baby before catching a cab at 7am, get to Canberra office around 9.40 after flight and cab, find a room to express (just taking my trusty Avent for the trip) go into meetings for a couple of hours, express again and fly back. If I can get tomorrow licked, I'm giving myself a medal (or at least a big pat on the back!!). I MUST MUST MUST refrain from making any smart alec remarks about my boobs exploding if the planes are late. Jokes like that probably get taken the wrong way these days  biggrin.gif

Wish me luck!! And hope everyone else's week is going OK original.gif

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