Back-to-Work Tips for Nursing Moms

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 26, 2011

Going back to work after having a baby can be a challenging transition for new moms – especially for those who want to breastfeed. While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least 12 months, only 35 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed at three months, and not quite 15 percent at six months, according to the Centers for Disease Control 2011 Breastfeeding Report Card.

Research suggests there are many challenges that moms face that prevent them from reaching this breastfeeding goal. Some of these obstacles include lack of breastfeeding information or supportive health care resources; lack of support at home; or challenges with finding time and privacy to express breastmilk in the workplace.

As a working mother of five who breastfed all her children, including twin boys, Amy O’Malley, RN, MSN, Director of Education and Clinical Services for Medela, understands both the importance of breastfeeding, and the challenges women face in doing so.

“The longer a baby is breastfed, the greater the health benefits for both mom and baby. Yet at three months, we see the most significant drop-off in breastfeeding which is around the same time most nursing moms return to work,” O’Malley said. “Fortunately today, there are many tools that can help mom continue to breastfeed and provide breastmilk to their babies even when they cannot be there. Breastpumps, for example, allow moms to keep that connection while providing optimal nutrition for their babies. It also allows dads and other caregivers to bond with babies when mom is away.”
And many moms agree. In fact, a recent survey of 1,000 women with infants, commissioned by Medela, found that 78 percent of breastfeeding moms use a breastpump.

O’Malley shares some tips and useful information for breastfeeding mothers returning to work:

* Plan in advance with your employer/human resources about your breastpumping needs. If your employer is unaware, let them know how breastfeeding will benefit all. Not only will you and your baby be healthier – research has shown that there are fewer missed work days and shorter absences for mothers who breastfeed.
* Familiarize yourself with the Protection and Affordable Care Act, which now requires certain employers to help support breastfeeding by providing working mothers a private place and time to pump, so that they can express breastmilk and maintain their supply. In addition, a new provision will require health plans to include breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling without cost sharing for insurance policies with plan years beginning on or after August 1, 2012.
* Use a double-electric breastpump to help you maintain your breastmilk supply and breastpump more efficiently while at work. Research shows that when using a double-electric breastpump with 2-phase Expression(r) technology, a mom can yield 18 percent more milk than single pumping.  
* A new tax benefit allows women to claim breastfeeding-related supplies to be covered as medical expenses. Learn more at:  
* Try to stay as close to your breastfeeding schedule as possible when you pump.
* Help preserve all of your breastmilk’s benefits by understanding safe storage. Storage and collection tips can be found at: and at the CDC’s website:
* Breastfeed your baby as soon as you get home.
* What you will need:
* A picture of your baby
* An insulated cooler bag with cold packs
* Food grade bottles/bags to store your milk
* Labels to note time and date of expression
* Breastpads to protect your clothes and conceal leakage

For moms with iPhones, download the free iBreastfeed App, which provides helpful information, practical advice, a locator to find local breastfeeding and breastpumping-friendly places, baby activity log and more. It’s available through the iTunes App Store.

Learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding, as well as making the transition back to work at: