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Breastfeeding - Page 9

Healthy Pregnancy Newsletter
Healthy Pregnancy Newsletter - Planning Ahead

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:

  • your breastfed, or breast milk-fed, baby is less likely to develop many kinds of infectious illnesses, so you are less likely to take days off to care for a sick baby.
  • you are less likely to be distracted on the job because you had to leave a sick baby with a sitter or because you are concerned about milk production or some other breastfeeding-related issue.
  • if you are able to pump every few hours, you are less likely to develop a mastitis (breast infection) - a situation that may require that you take one or more days off work.

    Let your employer know that frequent workday breast-pumping breaks do not continue indefinitely. The number will decrease during the second half of your baby's first year, as he/she develops and eats more solid foods.

Other work place issues to consider may include the following:

  • Will you be able to take breast-pumping breaks close to your baby's feeding schedule or must pumping wait for scheduled work-site breaks and lunch periods?
  • Is there a place where you may go to pump or express your breast milk privately?
  • Is there a refrigerator to store breast milk in during the day, or do you need to bring an insulated cooler for storage?

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