It is somewhat a rite of passage for all working mothers. The dreaded end of their maternity leave and return to full-time work. While many believe that the optimal situation is for a baby to remain at home with his mother for the first several years of life, this is simply not an option for the majority of women today. It’s hard enough to survive on two incomes without the added burden of supporting a new member of the family – a baby. And let’s face it: those cute cherub faces are expensive. All this said, it is very common for new mothers to return to work.
According to the Woman’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor, “25.1 million working mothers have children under the age of 18.” This would mean that this demographic is a major force within the U.S. economy. While working mothers may be somewhat a norm today, sadly the U.S. does not allow much time or compensation for new mothers to return to life after birth.
Despite being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, American mothers are entitled to zero weeks of paid leave under federal law. The Family and Medical Leave Act provides eligible workers 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a new child – major emphasis on “unpaid.” Today, the U.S. remains the only country in the developed world that does not mandate employers offer paid leave for new mothers. With statistics like this, it can be no surprise why mothers have to head back into work. Those weeks of “unpaid maternity days,” can add up. And the burgeoning family will be the first to feel the financial restrains kick in with weeks of no paychecks coming in.
As these mothers head back to the 9-5 world, they often hold the usual fears and worries all working mothers face. However, one of the most daunting concerns is how to be able to return to a full-time position and be able to pump for the baby. While some working mothers nurse for a few weeks and then wean the baby off the breast, more and more moms are choosing to continue to nurse after they re-enter the workforce. Thanks to the knowledge of many of the advantages of breastfeeding, not to mention the financial gain, a breastfeeding mother can enjoy from not having to pay for expensive formula.
How can those working mothers do it all? Handle the usual business of heading back to work, alongside pumping for wee one at home? Is it even possible for mothers to head back to work and pump? Read on for some easy tips and tricks on how to handle both.
Tip #1: Selection of Appropriate Breast Pump: Most insurance covers the payment of a breast pump for new mothers. Contact insurance immediately to find out if eligible as these machines are quite expensive. After sorting out whether it will be paid for or not, make sure to pick a pump to meet one’s own needs. Some pumps come in smaller sizes, while others offer stronger strength suction for pulling optimal amounts of milk. It’s vital to research which one that will work best.
Tip #2: Know your rights as a pumping, working mother: It is vital to communicate to your employer that you will need time and an appropriate place to pump while at work. Employers in the U.S. are required to provide breastfeeding moms with a private place to pump (i.e., not a bathroom). They also must provide a reasonable break time to pump for up to one year after the birth.
Tip #3: Scheduling pumping sessions: All pumping mothers need to make sure schedule time for 2-3 pumping sessions (ideally 3-4 hours in between). While back at work can be stressful enough with countless meetings and deadlines, it is vital to look at one’s schedule and set aside time for each session in between said meetings. These sessions need to be at least 15-20 minutes long, and need to be treated with just as much importance as a regular staff meeting.
Tip #4: Take time to relax while pumping: Stress can and will affect milk supply. Make sure each pumping session is quiet, private and relaxing. Choose a room that has curtains for privacy, and hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door to avoid co-workers from accidentally walking in. Bring an item from home that reminds one of the baby to stimulate the “let down” effect for milk supply.
Tip #5: Keep extra pump parts at home: There is nothing worse than getting to work, or back home, and realizing a pump part is missing. Make sure to take time to store extra pieces at either location to avoid this disaster. Items can be bought easily at local retail stores.
By following these easy suggestions, and making pumping a priority, working mothers can ensure their little ones a strong food supply. Yes, it is possible for mothers to head back to work and pump successfully.