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Working Moms Can Breastfeed, Too!

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If you’ve ever seen an old-fashioned breast pump, there’s a good chance it terrified you! They look like suction-cup torture devices! A grandmother recently told me: “In 1967, when I had my first child, I was determined to breastfeed him. But I had to go back to work, and the pumps back then were horrible. They didn’t work, and they hurt.” In the last thirty years or so, breast pump technology has made expressing and storing milk almost as easy as nursing your baby.

But where can you pump at work? There’s been a lot of discussion in the news lately about women asking for better facilities where they can express their milk while at work. I know a young mom who worked in a bank, which was inside a grocery store, and she pumped in the vault! “It was clean, it was private, and it wasn’t a bathroom,” she told me. (I’ve never understood why people think moms should pump or nurse their babies in bathrooms. We don’t prepare our food or eat in bathrooms!)

If you’re expecting, and you’re planning to continue to breastfeed and return to work, here are some things to consider:

1. Get an excellent pump. Do not skimp! They may cost a couple of hundred dollars, but it’s still less than you’d spend on formula in a year.
NOTE: If you intend to use a used pump—which I do not recommend—only re-use the motor. Throw away all plastic pieces that come in contact with the milk, and buy new pieces. Pathogens like HIV and Hepatitis C cannot be boiled out of plastic.

2. Be sure to buy high-quality storage bags or bottles for your milk, and make sure you understand storage and use guidelines for pumped breastmilk. (Medela’s website is excellent for this kind of information. Got to for more information.)

3. Talk to your employer beforehand. Make sure that your employer understands that your break times are not optional: you need to pump regularly to keep up your milk supply.

4. Find a clean, comfortable place to sit to express your milk. Depending on your pump—and you!—you’ll need anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to express and clean your pump. Try to find somewhere where you will not be interrupted too much!

5. When you can, breastfeed your baby. It will relax you, help you bond with your baby again, and help keep up your milk supply. (If you have questions about “nipple confusion,” ask your pediatrician or come to a breastfeeding support group.)

Finally, relax! I know, I am always saying this! But being a new mom is stressful enough without adding to it, right? Relax. Slow down. Enjoy your new baby!

Denise Midstokke, Licensed and Certified Professional Midwife, has been a midwife for 32 years, and has been practicing in North Idaho for 25 years. Pend Oreille Midwifery Services is located at 723 Pine Street, Sandpoint. (208) 263-0776

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