Can my spouse still breastfeed when she goes back to work?
Yes! She can do it! According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, breastfeeding keeps her connected to the baby, even when she is away. Employers and co-workers benefit because breastfeeding moms often need less time off for sick babies. More and more women are breastfeeding when they return to work.
There are many companies selling effective breast pumps and storage containers for mother’s milk. Many employers are willing to set up special rooms for mothers who pump. After your spouse has the baby, try to get her to take as much time off as possible, since it will help her get breastfeeding well established and also reduce the number of months she may need to pump her milk while she is at work.
If the mother plans to have her baby take a bottle of expressed breast milk while she is at work, your baby can be introduced to a bottle when he or she is around four weeks old. Otherwise, the baby might not accept the bottle later on. Once your baby is comfortable taking a bottle, it is a good idea to have you or another family member offer a bottle of pumped breast milk on a regular basis so the baby stays in practice.
Make sure your spouse lets her employer and/or human resources manager know that she plans to continue breastfeeding once she returns to work. Before she returns to work, or even before she can have your baby, encourage her to start talking with her employer about breastfeeding. Don’t be afraid to request a clean and private area where she can pump your milk. If she doesn’t have her own office space, she can ask to use a supervisor’s office during certain times. Or she can ask to have a clean, clutter free corner of a storage room. All she needs is a chair, a small table, and an outlet if she is using an electric pump.
Many electric pumps also can run on batteries and don’t require an outlet. Your spouse can lock the door and place a small sign on it that asks for some privacy. She can pump her breast milk during lunch or other breaks. She could suggest to her employer that she is willing to make up work time for time spent pumping milk.
After pumping, she can refrigerate her milk, place it in a cooler, or freeze it for the baby to be fed later. Many breast pumps come with carrying cases that have a section to store your milk with ice packs. If she doesn’t have access to a refrigerator, she can leave it at room temperatures for: 66°-72°F for up to ten hours or 72°-79°F for up to six hours.
Many employers are NOT aware of state laws that state they have to allow mothers to breastfeed at their job. Under these laws, the employer is required to set up a space for mothers to breastfeed and/or allow paid/unpaid time for breastfeeding employees.