Our breastfeeding consultant supports new mothers who are returning to work. Going back to work does not necessarily mean you have to stop breastfeeding.
The World Health Organization recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months. However, many women go back to work when their baby is only four months old. How can you continue to breastfeed your baby despite this transition? What should you be aware of? Breastfeeding consultations at Hôpital de La Tour’s maternity unit offer advice on breastfeeding, whether you are just starting your journey or it is coming to an end.
Expressing your milk and maintaining milk supply
You will need to express your milk so that you can return to work while continuing to give breast milk to your baby. “I recommend using an electric breast pump rather than a manual pump,” explains Christine Billard, breastfeeding consultant at Hôpital de La Tour. “In order to maintain milk supply, mothers will need to directly breastfeed their baby as often as possible when they are not at work.” Women who have a high milk supply can build up a store of expressed milk to have in reserve. The milk can be kept frozen for up to six months. The first morning feed is when your milk is at its richest; this is the last feed you should drop before stopping breastfeeding completely. We therefore recommend that you directly breastfeed your baby in the morning before going to work.
Planning ahead is key for a smooth transition back to work
It is a good idea to make sure that your baby is used to bottle feeding to ensure going back to work is as smooth as possible. “It is crucial that your baby’s first bottle contains expressed breast milk and is given by someone else. It is best to start this as early as possible and I would recommend starting no later than three weeks before going back to work.”
Having access to a quiet, private space to express your breast milk at work is essential. You should talk to your employer beforehand to find the best solution. “You must be able to express your milk two to three times a day at your place of work,” says Christine Billard. “How you feel can affect your milk supply, so you need to feel comfortable in order to express your milk.” If you are struggling to find a breastfeeding-friendly place, you can find details about several spaces dedicated to breastfeeding here.
It is crucial that new mothers feel comfortable breastfeeding, and in some cases their milk supply may decrease or even stop when they go back to work. “My role is to help women who want to breastfeed to do so, however this is a choice. I am also here to support women who want to move to formula milk. Milk production can be stopped gradually, by drinking herbal tea infusions, such as mint or sage, which help to dry up milk supply, and if this does not work, medication is also an option.”
Our breastfeeding consultant is available by appointment Monday and Thursday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., or you can call: Tel. +41 22 719 66 35