A Lactation Consultant's Breastfeeding Tips for Working Moms

Jodi Privette
Jodi Privette, IBCLC

When it comes to your baby, you want to provide the best. Many women choose to breastfeed because they believe that breast milk is the best nutrition for their baby. However, once they return to work, they worry that they may not be able to continue breastfeeding because of time constraints and limited locations. In this interview with Jodi Privette, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), you will learn how possible it is to continue breastfeeding your baby and what you can do to make it easier on you and baby.

About Jodi Privette, IBCLC

My name is Jodi Privette. I have three children and a wonderful husband. I have lived in the Charleston, SC area for most of my life. I breastfed all three of my children. All of my personal breastfeeding experiences have been completely different. After a very difficult time breastfeeding my first child, I felt that there was not enough help available for moms that were having problems. I decided to follow the path to become a lactation consultant. I began by becoming a WIC Peer Counselor and then continued to take continuing education classes until I had enough hours to sit for my board exams. I have been an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant for eight years. Since then, I have had the pleasure to work with many infants that range from preemies to toddlers. Some have been sick; some just need some help with positioning and latch, and some moms just need encouragement and support. No matter what needs are there, I am happy to lend a helping hand!

Tips for the Breastfeeding Working Mom

Working mom

LoveToKnow (LTK): How possible is it for mothers to continue breastfeeding after returning to work?

Jodi Privette (JP): Many moms continue to nurse after returning to work.

LTK: What are the benefits to mother and child to continue breastfeeding once mom starts working again?

JP: Breast is best. Everybody including artificial baby milk manufacturers say it. Also, every ounce counts! The American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation is "that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life...babies should continue to breastfeed for a year and for as long as is mutually desired by the mother and baby."

Breast milk is filled with antibodies and nutrients that are not found in artificial baby milk. When babies are exposed to germs, mommy's milk is able to help prevent illness especially if mom is exposed as well. When mom returns to work, there are often fewer days missed due to an infant's illness.

How to Continue Breastfeeding Your Baby

LTK: What does a mother need to continue breastfeeding?

JP: It is essential that a working mom have a good double electric pump that can help maintain milk supply. A single electric pump or a pump with a weak motor often will not be enough to maintain supply in order to allow exclusive breast milk feeding after returning to work. It has also been noted that hand expression after pumping can help maintain supply as well.

LTK: How does a mother keep her supply up when away from baby all day?

JP: It is really important to keep up with emptying the breast while away from the baby. An empty breast makes more milk than a full one. Moms should pump at least as often as the baby would be nursing. With that and using a good double electric pump, moms should be able to maintain supply. Sometimes moms may need to use herbal or prescription medications to help maintain supply. This should be discussed with the mom's health care provider.

LTK: How does a mother approach her boss about needing the time to pump throughout the day?

JP: There is Federal Legislature that gives moms the right to pump throughout the workday. With the current federal laws, employers are required to give sufficient time for a mother to pump and a place (other than a restroom) for her to be able to pump. Breastfeeding is much more popular now than it was even 10 years ago, so more and more employers are supportive of moms taking the time to pump. Often it is easier to discuss this with an employer prior to the delivery of the baby, so when maternity leave is over and mom is returning to work, the details have already been worked out.

LTK: What are some tips for mothers who are pumping at work?

JP: Having a picture of your baby with you while pumping is sometimes helpful to trigger let-down. Now that most cell phones are equipped with video cameras, it may be more helpful to take a video of your baby smiling or playing with you. Also, some relaxation techniques and/or the use of imagery can help relax mom enough to assist with the let down reflex.

When Someone Else Feeds Baby - Bottle Training

LTK: What are some tips on getting a baby used to a bottle? Is there any chance of nipple confusion?

JP: Many lactation consultants recommend that moms introduce a bottle to a baby around four to six weeks of age. I have found that often babies refuse a bottle if you wait too long. In my experience, a bottle should be introduced around two weeks. If a paced bottle technique is used, which involves sitting a baby more upright and holding the bottle more horizontally, babies don't usually have a problem switching back and forth from breast to and from the bottle.

Most often nipple confusion relates to flow preference. Babies are human also. They like instant gratification. If they work for their food from a paced bottle technique, they will work for milk from the breast as well. Once a bottle is introduced and accepted, the baby should be given the bottle every now and then to ensure that she continues to accept it.

Additional Help for Working Moms

LTK: Can you provide any resources for breastfeeding working moms?

JP: There are many sources to use for support of breastfeeding moms that return to work. The online resource that is probably the most recommended is Kellymom.com. Many communities have La Leche League International meetings or contact people that can assist as well.

The Power of Breastfeeding - Final Words from Jodi

Breastfeeding is a very rewarding experience and continuing breastfeeding after returning to work is very beneficial for both mom and baby. Breast milk is the best defense against baby getting sick once childcare begins. It also helps mom to have some one-on-one time with baby after returning to work.

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A Lactation Consultant's Breastfeeding Tips for Working Moms