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By Erika Ross

BF pictureReturning to work after having a baby? Whether it’s been 12 weeks, 6 months, or a few years, returning to work or school can be a challenging transition. For me, becoming a new mom introduced me to a whole new wonderful world and no matter how much I loved my job, I was simply not looking forward to leaving my little one for any amount of time.

As a dietetic intern at Simmons College, I was due to start my internship just 2½ months after my baby girl was born.  I was committed to exclusively breastfeeding my child and I knew that expressing milk–or “pumping”—was needed to maintain my milk supply. But I still had a lot of questions about what type of pump to use, how often to pump, and how to store my milk.   I spent a lot of time looking for guidance and reached out to anyone who had experience pumping away from home.

To help the next new mom with this transition, I put together a few tips to help you successfully return to work or school and continue nursing your baby:

  1. Select the right pump
    You may be anxious about the time needed for pumping during the work day. Having a quick, comfortable pump can make a world of difference. Speak with your doctor or lactation consultant about finding the best pump for you and your needs.
  2. Go hands free
    I went with a nifty system where a fitted bra held both pumps in place, allowing me to go hands-free! This was a must for me – not only was it a time saver, but you can browse the web, fire off a few emails, or simply just think about something other than the sound of the pump!
  3. Set up a routine

Put your pumping sessions into a calendar as you would a class or a meeting. Pumping is just as important, so make sure to leave enough room in your schedule.

  1. Find a clean, private place to pump.

Don’t just assume there will be a place for you…I made that mistake once and I found myself sitting in a storage closet during one of my rotations! Needless to say, I was not very comfortable and my milk output suffered. Be sure to call ahead or make your needs known on the first day.

  1. Store different amounts of milk

While it’s easy to fill up each bag to its limit, your little one may not want the whole bag…and after pumping all day, seeing breast milk go to waste is a real shame. Having ready-made bags containing different amounts of milk will allow you to select the right amount of food needed at any given time.

I know this may all seem a bit overwhelming, but with careful planning and some extra effort, it CAN be done! Plus, the look on your baby’s face when you walk through the door, and knowing you have a fresh supply of breast milk to nourish her little tummy…well, it’s nothing short of priceless.

Erika Ross is a dietetic intern at Simmons College.

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