Before Your Maternity Leave
- Plan your maternity leave strategically. If you have more time after the baby comes then you will have longer to initiate breastfeeding. Research shows longer time at home after you give birth improves breastfeeding success.
- Explore your maternity leave options. Visit Tulane's Leave of Absence webpage. Can you get a more flexible schedule? Maybe work from home sometimes?
- Talk to your supervisor and explain your breastfeeding intentions and what that will mean at work. The new law and Tulane's Staff Handbook secures reasonable break time and, though this varies from woman to woman, about 30 minutes every 3 hours is a good place to start.
- Select a place to pump for when you get back. You can pump wherever you feel comfortable, but you'll want to look for a place with an outlet, fridge and sink close by. Tulane's lactation rooms have a variety of amenities in each.
- Time the walk to your pumping location and factor that in to the time needed during your break time.
- Select a pump (see resources for help in selecting a pump)
- Plan childcare for your baby for after you go back to work/school. If you decide to use a childcare center, make sure they are supportive of breastfeeding!
While on Leave
- Establish a good milk supply. If you have any trouble, contact a lactation consultant before you go back to work.
- Practice using your pump. This will reduce troubleshooting disturbances upon your return.
- Establish back up milk. While practicing using your pump, freeze the milk you pump so that you'll have plenty stored for when you go back to work. La Leche League recommends pumping once or twice a day after breastfeeding a few weeks before you go back to work. It will probably take a few days to increase your supply, so don't be discouraged if you don't get much milk at first.
- Introduce a bottle shortly before returning to work but wait until breastfeeding is well established (when the baby is about 4 weeks old). Your baby might not take a bottle from you so let your partner or a friend in on the fun!
- Do a trial run: set the alarm clock, nurse, shower, eat breakfast, and get yourself and your baby ready and out the door - it will be harder than you think! But then you can go back home and adjust for the real first day back.
Returning to Work
- Babies tend to eat about 2-4 oz. at a time after they reach 6 weeks of age. For a full work day, send six 2 oz. containers/bags to the day care. Stay in contact with your day care provider to see if more or less is needed. You may want to send extra the first day or two to establish a backup.
- Be sure to label your breast milk: date pumped and baby's name. The amount of milk needed is different for a formula fed baby who constantly needs more formula as they grow due to differences in metabolism. Don't be surprised if your breastfed baby's milk needs stay constant but watch out for growth spurts.
- Choose nursing or pumping friendly clothes, such as two-piece outfits rather than dresses, for easy access to the breasts.
- Consider returning to work on a Wednesday or Thursday so that you only have to face two or three days away from your baby the first week back.
- Try to get as ready as possible the night before - pack your lunch, the baby's bag, etc.
- Remember that short pumping and nursing sessions are better than no sessions at all. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand thing; if you skip too many sessions, your supply will start to dwindle.
- The CDC does not list breast milk as "a body fluid for which most healthcare personnel should use special handling precautions," so you can store your breast milk in shared refrigerators.
Have questions about the Tulane Breastfeeding Program?