Breastfeeding & pumping at work


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Jun 1, 2021
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I took 4 months maternity leave (self employed salon hairdresser) and breastfed the whole time so far (currently on month 3), I didn’t expect to have this much success with it so I’m over the moon I’m able to, and want to carry on. The only thing getting in the way- back to work. I’ve started pumping and don’t find it easy at all, after months of exclusively just having the baby on the breast, doing the whole constant sterilising/pumping/cleaning the equipment seems really complicated and takes up a lot of time! But my main issue will be when and where to do the pumping while I’m at work, I really don’t want to have to go onto formula just because it’s ‘convenient’, as I’m lucky enough to be able to breastfeed well. I’ll have a busy schedule when I go back next month, as I’ll only be doing 3 days at first so they’re fully booked. I’ve obviously left some gaps for pumping breaks, but I think it looks like I’ll be having to go off to sit in my car and do it, parked a 5-10 min walk away, as the only private place in the salon is a tiny toilet which is used by staff and clients! We have male staff so I’m not comfortable doing it in the staff room. I’m feeling pretty anxious about these potential mad plans of having to leave clients to go and pump etc, any tips from anyone who’s done this before?!

(This has been discussed before so have a look at other threads).

You might be able to use facilities at another business or even a shop/cafe if you ask nicely. Maybe reach out in your area to NCT or FB groups for advice. It’s not easy in a car.

My daughter was breastfeeding when she went back to work (not as a hairdresser). She built up a stash of milk in advance, so she didn’t have the stress of having to express milk at work that was needed for the next day. (Tip: it’s better to defrost frozen milk in the fridge over 24 hours).

You only need to express once a day at work and you might find you don’t need to save the milk if things are going well. Make sure you leave for work with empty breasts (have you tried manually expressing over a large, sterilised bowl? Use two hands and check round each milk duct, making sure everything feels soft and comfortable when you finish). My daughter was able to strip off in a toilet cubicle and express milk into the loo, no equipment required, and back to work in less than 10 mins).

You can go 4-5 hours no problem and 6 at a stretch, so you might be home before you need to express a second time). When you get home maybe plan to express as soon as you get in. That way you haven’t got a starving, fractious baby if you are late, not the frustration of expecting to feed straight away only to find a sweetly sleeping angel that’s not interested. Only express enough to be comfortable and feed from the breast as soon as you can in the evening.

If you get 2 feeds in before midnight and at least one in the morning after 6am that will really help maintain your milk supply. (Night time feeds are just for comfort after 3 months or 12lbs in weight).

Every baby is different. Some babies wean themselves off the breast so don’t be surprised if you get the sack around 6 months. My daughter was very reluctant to feed from the breast after 5 1/2 months, wanting to join in family meals instead. Took me by surprise, I’d been expecting to feed until at least 9 months.

Your NCT group will have lots of advice from other Mums all happy to share.
Can your baby be brought to you to feed at certain times? I was thinking a cover as the clients have over clothes could be used as a shield from prying eyes. And facing into a corner with back to the room may help with not being visibly obvious?
Pumping does seem cumbersome.

Whatever you decide good luck and congratulations on the baby.

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