Breastfeeding and returning to work

Barring complications, I will be returning to work after 6 weeks, but I still want to continue to breast feed my baby, since I may only work in the office two to three days per week, and work by modem the rest of the week. Is it possible to "store" breast milk? What am I going to have to prepare for in order to do this?


Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

How wonderful that you are planning ahead and wanting to nurse your baby after returning to work. I find that when mothers wean their babies after 6 weeks, they are missing the best of it. During the first few weeks, you will be adjusting to the ebb and flow of milk and baby-mother cycles. At 6 weeks, lactation is well established although growth spurts or stress can cause momentary readjustments.

Ruth Lawrence's book: "Breastfeeding: A guide for the medical profession" is a superb reference. She says that plans for feeding depend on the age of the child and his feeding pattern. If the infant is totally breast fed and under 6 months, feeding should be mother's milk either in person (if she can breastfeed him at work or go to him during the day) or expressed milk (pumping and saving for next day).

Milk can be stored in a refrigerator or insulated iced lunch box. Fresh refrigerated unsterilized mother's milk can be used for 48 hrs following collection. If it is to be frozen, do this immediately at 0 degrees F (standard freezer in top of refrigerator). At this temp, the milk should be kept no longer than 1 week. After that it is better to keep it in a deep freezer which does not get opened as much as a refrigerator freezer does. Some separation will occur but can be gently mixed again.

A hand pump with a trigger device is the best alternative to hand expression but the best is an electric pump which empties the breast quickly. Call your local lactation consultant or the LaLeche League for rental or purchase information. Some HMOs have lactation centers that could help with local resources.

I recommend books by T. Berry Brazelton a lot but here is another good one: "Working and Caring." (1985) Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley.

The Journal of Nurse-Midwifery also had a good article called: "Assisting the employed breastfeeding mother, 35:26, 1990. A good medical library would have this.

I hope you have a satisfying experience. Best of luck.


Response to Answer

Wow!! What an answer!! I'm so thrilled that this service is available via the Internet!! I would have had to wait until my next appointment, or leave a message with the LaLeche League in my area, and probably wouldn't have had any information quite so quickly!

I'm going to pick up the books, and contact LaLeche... I'm much more confident that I can do this, thanks to you!!

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