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Breastfeeding and Working Outside the Home
By Sherri Hedberg, IBCLC

Many mothers today choose to return to work soon after their babies are born. Whether they need to for financial or personal reasons, it is never an easy decision. Working mothers face the dilemma of child care, time restraints, and the added pressures of today's 'super mom' fantasy. When the prospect of breastfeeding enters the picture, many feel overwhelmed at the thought - understandably so. It is one more thing to coordinate into an already busy day. Even so, many mothers are choosing to continue to breastfeed when they re-enter the work force.

With a little planning, breastfeeding can be adapted to fit your situation. Many mothers choose to pump while they are away from their babies. There are pumps available today that can pump both breasts at the same time which can keep the pumping time as short as 10 minutes. These pumps are portable and quiet, one looks like a handbag and even has a compartment to store the milk. They can be pricey - $195 to purchase, or $45-$55 to rent each month - but when compared to the cost of formula, close to $500 per year, you can still save money.

The benefits of providing your breastmilk to your baby are enormous. The added immunological defense is even more important to a baby in a child care setting. Emotionally, many mothers appreciate the knowledge that they share this special relationship with their babies even though they must be away some of the time. And even though they can't be with their babies 24 hours a day, they can still provide the absolute best nutrition.

For the mother who chooses to pump, she doesn't need to worry with bottles when she is home. She can simply nurse when the baby requests it and not have to do the added work. Some mothers, due to lack of access or time to pump, choose to give formula while they are away. This is also possible - and they can enjoy the convenience of nursing in the evenings and on weekends with an occasional formula supplement and still give their babies the immunological/nutritional benefits of breastfeeding.

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Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with new guidelines for breastfeeding. They recommend human milk as the preferred feeding for the first year of life and longer as mutually desired by mother and child. There was some talk in the news that this recommendation would make working mothers feel guilty if they were unable to do it. In my personal opinion, I believe that this recommendation could be a gift to working mothers. It will give more leverage for groups to ask for businesses to accommodate the needs of new mothers possibly leading to longer paid maternity leaves and/or opportunities to pump or nurse, and even more flexible working schedules.

For more information on pumps and supplies, 1-800-TELL-YOU for a Medela sales representative closest you.

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