Returning to Work
Many women continue to breastfeed whether their maternity leave of absence lasts four to six weeks, or several months. However, the longer the leave of absence, the longer you will have to recuperate after the birth, establish milk production, and develop a good breastfeeding relationship with your baby. The length of time given for a paid maternity leave of absence varies among companies. Some women extend their maternity leaves by taking additional weeks of unpaid leave. Become aware of your rights according to the Family Medical Leave Act (USA) and check with your employer to determine the latest date you may return.
In addition to extending the length of a maternity leave, many women explore other employment options. Some women arrange with their employers to (1) return to work on a part-time basis initially, or long term, (2) job share, or (3) work from out of the home. These options benefit both the employer who retains a skilled employee and the employee who has more time with her baby.
When planning your return to work, ask if you might begin the first week on a Wednesday or a Thursday, so you will soon have the weekend to work out any unexpected problems.
Employer support will be beneficial to successfully continuing breastfeeding. Discuss your plan to continue to breastfeed, and your need to pump/express breast milk during the workday, with your employer when you are pregnant or before you return to work.
Be sure your employer understands that continued breastfeeding, and providing your milk by pumping at work, are not just good for your baby - they also are good for the company. Evidence indicates that employer support for continued breastfeeding, and the breast-pumping breaks it requires, results in fewer employee absences and increased worker productivity.
Support by your employer makes sense when you consider that:
Other work place issues to consider may include the following:
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