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Breastfeeding and the Working Mum

Combining working and breastfeeding can be done - with a bit of preparation, communication, and persistence. Here are some ways to make breastfeeding and working possible.

Talk to your employer. In New Zealand, employers are required under the Employment Relations Act 2000 to provide appropriate breaks and facilities for employees who wish to breastfeed their infants or express milk during work hours - as far as is reasonable and practicable. Talk to your employer about what provisions are available for you to continue breastfeeding your baby while you are back at work. This may mean working flexible hours until your baby is weaned from breastfeeding, taking all of your lunch hour and breaks at once so that you can leave the office to breastfeed your baby midday, or taking breaks during the day to pump breast milk.  They may have an office that you can use.  And you'll need somewhere to store the milk (or else your own chilly bag).  For more information on your rights with regards to breastfeeding and working, visit the Department of Labour website. (link:http://www.dol.govt.nz/er/holidaysandleave/parentalleave/infantfeeding/breastfeeding.pdf)

Invest in a good breast pump. Feeding your baby breast milk is possible even if he is at daycare. A good electric breast pump will help make this possible. Start using your breast pump before you return to work, so that you become familiar with pumping and safely storing breast milk, and so that your breasts become used to the action of the breast pump. This will also help build up a supplier in the freezer.  An electric breast pump will help you to pump breast milk faster than a manual pump, so that you can maximise your pumping breaks at work.

Develop a good breastfeeding schedule. Before you return to work, endeavour to get your baby into a schedule for breastfeeding, so that you can breastfeed him before leaving for work, then have him fed expressed breast milk during the day by his caregiver, and then breastfeed him again when you return home in the evening. If your baby is breastfeeding regularly, it will be easier to pump breast milk during the day, as your breasts will be acclimated to feeding and pumping at regular times.

Don't give up. Maintaining breastfeeding while working is possible, but in the beginning it can seem like more trouble than it's worth. Give yourself some time to get used to pumping breast milk and organising breastfeeding around your work schedule. Try to be flexible, especially in the beginning, as you are still getting used to being away from your baby during the day. If possible, start back at work on reduced hours, and gradually increase your hours as you are able to.

At least a little. Even if you can't manage to express breast milk for all your baby's feeds in the day, or if baby has formula in the day, try to still breastfeed baby at night.  Then you still get the special bonding time too.

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