Going back to work after having a baby can be difficult emotionally and logistically. Toss breastfeeding in and moms not only have to worry about when to drop off and pick up their kiddos but when to pump so their kiddos have a supply of milk when they’re not around to give it to them from the source.
So where to look for support and resources? The Missoula Baby Bistro is a good place to hear from certified lactation counselors and other moms about returning to work and a host of other breastfeeding-related things.
The breastfeeding support group meets from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays at Zootown Brew, 121 W. Broadway.
And if you’re like me, it’s an opportunity to upgrade from sweatpants to yoga pants and get out of the house and talk with other moms about everything from what worked for them when they tried to get baby to take a bottle to sleep habits to just how you’re feeling. I went to the group almost every week when I was still on maternity leave and it was definitely helpful to hear from other moms and lactation experts — without having to make an appointment. I also gleaned all sorts of nuggets of info, like how socks stuffed in bras do in a pinch when you’re out of nursing pads and how you can make your own hands-free nursing bra by cutting slits in a sports bra.
The group began last August after members of the Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition decided to have one support group instead of the various ones hosted by different organizations. Coalition members take turns facilitating so there’s always an expert, or two, on hand.
During a recent session, Jennifer Stires, who owns the Nursing Nook, gave some tips on how to make the transition back to work easier for mom and baby while still breastfeeding.
• Give your chosen childcare a trial run for a few hours the week before you return to work.
• Pump once every day if starting to pump two weeks before going back to work; pump every other day if starting four weeks before your return.
• Store milk in 2-4 ounce increments so it can be warmed up in small amounts and waste less.
• Make sure the room you pump in at work has a lock for privacy. Don’t pump in the bathroom. (Would you eat in there?) Be near water so you can rinse your breast pump parts after each use.
• Drink lots of water, exercise and get fresh air. Keep healthy snacks available (oatmeal helps with milk production).
• Have a feeding plan on file with your childcare provider and ask to have a synopsis of your child’s day. When did they nap and for how long? How much did they eat and when?
The law is on your side, too, ladies.
According to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers — with some exemptions — must give nursing mothers reasonable break times to express breast milk for up to a year after birth and are required to give mothers a place — other than a bathroom — in which to do so.
If you need some advice or just an encouraging smile from another mom who is going through the same thing, check out Missoula Baby Bistro in person, or find them on Facebook.