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World Breastfeeding Week: Tips for New Moms Balancing Breastfeeding and Returning to Work

PITTSBURGH, August 3, 2015 – The first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week, a time dedicated to informing, supporting and encouraging women who make the decision to breastfeed their babies. The worldwide theme “Let’s Make it Work,” focuses on issues that arise for new moms who are balancing breastfeeding and their careers.
 
While a new baby brings joy for most women, the transition back to work can be met with questions and uncertainties about breastfeeding. Celia Emmons, of the Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC Lactation Center, offers the following tips for new moms making the transition from maternity leave to work.
 
Prior to birth, expectant moms should…

1. Have a conversation with their employers.
Breastfeeding moms will need breaks during the workday to ensure they can pump enough milk for their babies, and having that conversation prior to maternity leave will eliminate any surprises upon returning to work. Expectant moms should also work with their employers to identify a pumping location that is private and comfortable.

2. Talk to their insurance company.
When a new mom returns to work, her milk supply will be dependent on her ability to pump during work hours. Under the Affordable Care Act, most insurance providers are required to cover the cost of a breast pump. Each company’s policy for providing breast pumps is different, so talking to insurance companies in advance will help women secure pumps prior to or immediately after giving birth.
After birth, new moms should…
3. Start pumping before returning to work.
Many moms may want to build up a reserve of milk for their return to work.  Women who wish to do this should start pumping around four weeks after delivery to build their reserve over time.
 
4. Introduce bottles early on.
The transition from breast to bottle can take time, so experts recommend that babies be introduced to bottles when they are 4 weeks old, while their moms are still at home. Incorporating bottles into feedings allows babies to adjust before spending time away from their mothers. Adopting the typical workday routine a week before actually returning to work will make the overall transition easier for everyone.
 
5. Pump extra milk whenever possible.
Milk production is stimulated by frequent removal of milk from the breasts, which happens more effectively when a mom is with her child. Returning to work can cause a decrease in hormones and milk production, so it is critical for new moms to pump as close to baby’s schedule as possible while at work. Pumping extra after regular feedings at home may be helpful, and hand expression and massages can also be used to increase milk supply.
 
6. Take care of themselves.
Healthy moms make for healthy babies, so new moms should be extra attentive to their overall health. Drinking water throughout the day along with eating healthy foods will combat the effects of lack of sleep, helping new moms feel good and putting them in better shape to care for their babies.
Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC staffs a dedicated team of lactation consultants who are available to answer any and all questions about breastfeeding and the transition to being a working mom. Information is available online or by calling 412-641-1121.

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