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Ep. 121 – Preparing to Return to Work

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This is Maureen Farrell and Heather ONeal and this is The Milk Minute. We’re midwives and lactation professionals bringing you the most up-to-date evidence for all things lactation. So you can feel more confident about feeding your baby, body positivity, relationships, and mental health. Plus, we laugh a little or a lot along the way.

So join us for another episode. Welcome to the Milk Minute Podcast, everyone. Welcome to the podcast. We’re recordin’ a podcast podcast. Hey guys. Sorry. So sorry. Hey, welcome. Today we are tackling the how the heck do you prepare to return to work after having a baby?

Yeah, it seems like a daunting task considering you just pushed a whole human out or removed a whole human from your body. Yeah. And usually it’s like, you feel like you finally know what you’re doing around that like maybe, you know, 12 week mark, and then you’re like, oh, maternity leave’s up. And also it feels like work when you are feeding your baby in those first six to 12 weeks.

Mm-hmm. And so you’re like, I’m preparing to go back to work, but I feel as if I’m already working, so that’s troublesome. Right. And it’s hard cuz you’re like, I don’t know how to breastfeed still. This is hard. And now I have to learn a whole new thing in a couple weeks. Right. What else am I supposed to be doing?

What else could I pack into this impossibly full life? Let’s find out. Right. Exactly. But first, but first question. Yes. Let’s start with a question. So this is from one of our lovely patrons, Alyssa W from Wilmington, Delaware. Alyssa says, would love details on pumping in the car. I’ve been trying to get the hang of that but feel like I could be doing this more efficiently.

Would love to answer cause I do it several times a week. Maureen did it just this morning. Yes. Tell us how you do it. Before I start my car, I set things up as if it is a pumping room. Even if I’m like, I’m not quite ready to pump right now, but I’m going to a half an hour into this drive. I set up. So like nobody’s in the front with me.

I don’t care how many people are in the car. I can’t pump if somebody’s there, cuz that’s like my spot for my stuff. So I put my pumping bag on the passenger seat and my actual pump usually goes on the center console, you know, and then I get everything out and I set it up and I put all the parts together and the tubes together and I usually hook up the flanges and like put them in the center, like cup holders.

And I get out my chiller. So it’s like within arm’s reach. And I even, like, I consider my dashboard, like my drying rack. That’s like, and I put like a cloth out on there in case I have to put anything up there. Like while I’m trying to take off parts or whatever.

So nothing is touching like my dirty, gross car, because my car’s disgusting. I keep like my wet dry bag, like open in case like I’m pumping and I just have to throw them in there for a minute. Do you ever put the corner of your wet, dry bag in the door of the dashboard? You like close it in there so it’s hanging.

The glove compartment? Yes, that’s what it’s called. I can’t reach that in my car. Oh, because it’s really big and I’m not. Okay. How about this? I’ve seen this one before where you open the center console and you put your wet bag in there and kind of like fold the top, totally, open like a garbage. Yeah.

Yeah, totally. Yeah. And just, I mean, I, before you do anything, don’t even put your seatbelt on. Don’t put the keys in the car. Think about every single thing you need to pump being within arm’s reach. And stable if you like go around a curve quick. And that’s what I do before I start. Even if I’m not pumping immediately. And often I’ll put my flanges on or my pumps in my bra or whatever it is, even if I don’t need to pump right then, because like odds are, if you have to pump halfway through your drive, you’re gonna be like, ah, I don’t wanna pull over and now I’m not gonna pump.

Or you’re gonna be like, well, just like shove it in and turn it on. Hope it works. And then it’s not lined up right cuz you’re driving and like that’s not a safe situation. Mm-hmm. So put everything on, lay it all out. Take the extra three minutes to do that. And you will thank me later. And of course use a Ceres Chiller.

Yes, because it’s the easiest. Which by the way, if you flip it upside down, fits in a cup holder. Oh my God. Mm-hmm. That took me way too long to figure out. But the lid of it fits in the cup holder, the base doesn’t. So you flip it upside down and toss it in there. Well, that’s brilliant. Yeah. Didn’t even think about that.

Mm-hmm. And it doesn’t leak because of the nice high quality bismuth seal. Yeah. And actually what I do often too since there’s like not a lot of great flat horizontal surfaces in a car to like put things down on when you’re trying to like juggle bottles of milk, I use the cap to the chiller to put like the weird bottle like that doesn’t stand up right when you put it down with the flange.

I like stuff it in there. Mm-hmm. And then it stays. And then I can empty the other one and then grab it. Oh, smart. Yeah. Cause I don’t, I don’t usually pump right into my Chiller. You could, but I don’t usually. Yeah. Okay. Well, if you don’t have a Chiller yet, and you want one, or you don’t know what we’re talking about, you can go to the link in the show notes that takes you to our entire episode about the Ceres Chiller.

And we’ll put a link for you to purchase your own Ceres Chiller with our promo code MILKMINUTE15, for 15% off. Yeah. Okay. Well, let’s thank some patrons. We are thanking today, Stephanie Landis and Reba from West Virginia. Yes. Thank you everybody. We really appreciate you. Also quick mention, just a reminder, Maureen and I both do virtual consults and our links are always in the show notes if you feel like you would like to talk to one of us about your breastfeeding struggles. Yes.

All right. It’s Maureen here. And I want to tell you that I have finally set up a link so you can instantly book virtual lactation consults with me. Oh, thank the Lord. I know Heather, it took me a long time to take the leap from in person visits to virtual, but I did it. You’re gonna love it. I love doing virtual consults.

They are the best. It serves more people. I’m so glad you took the plunge. Thank you. And if you guys out there wanna book some time with me, you can go to HighlandBirthSupport and then click on my lactation services tab. Is that H I G H L A N D? Yes. Okay. I will see you on zoom, everybody.

All right guys. So let’s set your scenario up. You just had a baby. Congratulations. Thank you. And you have to return to work at like 12 weeks postpartum. No, thank you. No, thank you. What now, though? So I’m gonna, I’m gonna take us through this in like a progressive timeline from birth to work. And I like to start people off thinking about this from that first week or two, because there are two things I want you to think about very early.

One is passive milk collection. So using a haakaa or an Elvie curve or milk saver shells, because a lot of people leak in those first couple weeks. So even if you’re not gonna like, be consistent about using one of those silicone milk collectors while you nurse, just catch that leaking milk. It’s valuable.

It’s good. Your baby can drink it later and it’s gonna take a little pressure off your freezer stash goals. And it’s not less quality milk because it’s the first milk. Okay. A lot of people ask me if I’m only ever collecting haakaa milk, is it still nutritious because it’s the foremilk? And the answer is yes.

When you are that early on in the game, your milk doesn’t have a lot of time to separate in your breast. So you’re feeding so frequently that that milk never has a chance to separate, like it does in the refrigerator. Mm-hmm. So that first milk, even if it did separate, by the way, still has fat in it.

Still fine. Still human milk, high quality, whatever. So yes, don’t worry about. I do wanna make a quick note about the haakaa. Okay. I’m going to set some limits on you people. Yes. All right. I have seen this a lot now in my practice where people use the haakaa early on and they collect two ounces a time while using it while nursing.

Mm-hmm. And they use it every single time they nurse, and they end up with a wicked oversupply from only the haakaa or the Elvie curve. So you, it’s really meant to collect small amounts. So if you already have half an ounce, pop that thing off and be done, please do not be collecting an additional two ounces every time, because that is telling your body that you’re gonna need that much more milk, and you’re always gonna have it there.

So, right. I even had one patient that ended up getting four ounces in the haakaa at two o’clock in the morning, every time. So even when the baby started sleeping through the night, she would have to wake up at two o’clock and use the haakaa just to take that milk off. And I was like, wait, no, no. And if you find that you are getting a lot of milk in it, just don’t use it as often. Every other time.

Just, just do it like once a day. Right. You know, and I encourage this because it takes pressure off. Right. It’s easier than using a pump. You can start your milk stash and you have low stress. But if we are adding stress and complications, then we need to take steps back. Right. Exactly.

And I really think no more than four ounces of haakaa milk extra a day. Yeah. That’s a whole bag of milk for a baby of any age. Agreed. And it’s fine. Yeah. And I think staying in that range, you can very easily just out of the blue stop collecting an extra four ounces and you’re not gonna be at risk for mastitis. Yep. Yeah. Or just in general discomfort.

Yeah. So that’s a good ground rule. Thank you. The second thing I want you to start doing in the first few weeks is teaching yourself to hand express. First you’re gonna be handling your boobs a lot. And you’re gonna be navigating like how to put them in your baby’s mouth. And you’re just gonna be touching your boobs a lot.

So get familiar, you know, maybe if your baby like falls asleep halfway through a feed, and you still feel some milk in there, like grab a little cup, a little medicine cup and just see what happens. And it takes a lot of practice to hand express. So just make it like a funny thing where you’re like, wow, what if I try to squirt my sleeping husband across the bed right in his ear?

Like yeah. See how accurate you can get that thing. Yeah. Like make it fun and learn how to do it. And I think this is an invaluable skill if you’re going to spend significant time away from your baby in the future. Inevitably, you are going to forget your pump parts someday at work. It’s gonna happen.

And that is not the day you wanna learn to hand express. Very stressful and harder to hand express a breast that’s engorged. Yes. So try it, you know, like after a feeding, see if you can get anything else outta there when your breast is really pliable. Fun fact, I’m an underhand hand expresser and Maureen’s an overhand hand expresser.

So, which took experimentation to figure out cause I did it the other way, didn’t work for me. And I was like, also, I’m getting a wrist cramp. Yeah. So there’s no rules. However, you can get it out comfortably. Yeah. Is the way that you should be doing it. Yeah. And, and again, that’s something where if you’re like, oh no, it’s week two and I haven’t done it.

No big deal, but just like, think about it. Or like, maybe you forget about it until that one time you grab a boob to put it in your baby’s mouth and you accidentally press the right spot. And it just like explodes and squirts all over. Then you can be like, oh yes. Note for a future me. Squeeze there. Right.

The next thing you need to do is try to get your pump set up. Make sure your partner also knows how to set up your pump. You should not be the only adult in the house that knows how to work that piece of equipment and wash it and put it back together. Yes. Okay. So. I said this to someone the other day who is like a very like back country, farm girl, and her husband would not do the pump dishes.

And I was like, if your husband can take apart and clean a gun and put it back together, he can do the same with your pump. Ooh. It is less complicated than that. Anyway, and then they all just slowly backed out of the room and they were like, extreme leftist hippie. I mean, I’m just saying, just saying anyway, so true though.

So true. And also make sure you have the right flange sizes. Yes. And that might take a couple weeks to get in the mail or to figure it out. Yeah. So get your pump as soon as possible. Make sure it works. It’s not like a factory defect lemon or whatever. Play around with it in a low stress environment where if you try it and you’re like, bust this sucked, you have time to get new parts, to figure it out, to watch YouTube videos or to get a whole new pump.

Don’t be afraid to get a new one if the one your insurance gave you is terrible. Right. And if you are not sure if it’s terrible or not, or if you’re doing it correctly, then you phone a friend. Yeah. That’s when you call Maureen or I, or some other lactation consultant that you have access to to be like, I think I hate this, but let’s just make sure it’s not me.

Yes. Yeah, exactly. So once you get your pump set up, then you can start introducing a bottle. Yeah. Because if you’re giving a bottle of your haakaa milk, for example, to get you started, you’re gonna have to pump to replace that feeding, unless you start with like one ounce at time, which I recommend.

So I in, I really highly recommend that we start, I like to start bottle feeding in the first month, just introducing the concept, but at least one month before you go back to work. Because babies are unpredictable. What if it refuses the bottle and it was two days before you go back to work? Like that’s a really stressful situation.

So personally, I like to introduce the bottle when it’s just like a half ounce of milk or an ounce, and baby can like fumble with it and spill it and whatever, and it’s not a big deal and you’re not really replacing a feed and it’s okay if it doesn’t work. Yeah. And can I also say, so the bottle refusal thing, it’s like, what are, what’s the actual incidence of that?

You know, like how prevalent is this situation? Right. And from what I’ve seen, if your baby can suck on a pacifier the transition is easier to the bottle because they’re used to having that shape and plastic in their mouth. Right. For comfort. And, you know, just in general. So if you have a baby that refuses pacifiers, I would like you to try the bottle, like Maureen said with just low stakes, when the baby’s not starving, try with one ounce and see how they do.

And if your baby can’t coordinate their tongue and their oral function, you need that time for some OT. So that’s when you come and do some suck training with a lactation professional. You might need to have some chiropractic care added in there. You might even need to see if we have any oral restrictions that went undiagnosed because a lot of times kiddos with oral restrictions might not have a problem breastfeeding, cuz maybe you squirt like a fire hose.

Mm-hmm. And so baby doesn’t actually have to try very hard, but when it comes to recreating negative pressure over and over again, to suck on a bottle, it’s actually too hard for them. Like they might not be able to do it. So we might need to have some time to correct that revision and then do suck training.

Yeah. And you don’t wanna do that the day before you go back to work? No. And when you introduce a bottle to a baby, we just wanna remind you, be patient, be consistent, pick one bottle and try it for a while. If they refuse it once it’s not bottle refusal, it’s just like part of the process. Right. You know, I like to stick with those small amounts of milk, low stakes, you know, maybe in that like awake alert time where baby’s like interested in learning.

You can try having somebody else use the bottle when you’re not home. You can try doing it. What actually worked really well for me was pausing in the middle of a feed, giving Lyra a bottle and she’d suck a few times and then she’d be like, eh, I don’t like it. But it would get her used to that in her mouth and then I’d just bring her right back to the breast. And also we did syringe feeding with her too.

Because she wouldn’t take a bottle from Ivan, which was weird, but she would take one from me. So he would use a syringe, which is easier because it doesn’t require them to actually have any active stake in it cuz you can squirt some milk in their mouth and then they automatically swallow. Mm-hmm. But that also just like introduces them to the concept that milk can come from other places that are not boobs and not Mom.

Right. So troubleshoot. And also if you’re stressing about which bottle to pick, it doesn’t really matter. No, but I am a huge fan of convenience. Yeah. And so like all of these ones that are like, we decrease the gas, it’s like, okay, there’s a big difference between gas that you inhale while you’re eating that you burp out and gas that develops as a result of digestion, which causes pain.

Yeah. So those are two different things. I could care less if a baby sucks down some air, they’re just gonna burp it out. We’re just burping. So you don’t need to get the bottle that has seven different parts to wash that prevents gas or, or, or the special quote, just like a breast bottle that takes two weeks to ship to your house.

Right. So I like, I’m gonna do a shout out. Yeah. This is not sponsored. Yeah. But I like the Como Tomo bottles because it’s three parts. It’s the nipple, the silicon, the high quality silicone base and the ring and that’s it. Right. And it’s a wide mouth bottle and baby massages the silicone part, just like they massage your breast, which kind of makes me happy. That’s fun.

 That didn’t really work for my baby. Oh yeah. Yeah, it. The squishy bottle thing was like weird and she kept, I don’t know, it was weird for her. But I really like the parents’ choice bottles from Walmart, with the narrow mouth. Hmm. Like, you know, if we’re getting like picky about latches and whatever, oftentimes a narrow mouth bottle has a wider latch for babies.

How so? Because they can actually get it deeper in their mouth. Versus the like really wide flat ones, they kind of end up shallow latching on, but it depends on your baby, right? Yeah. So that worked really well for Lyra. They’re at Walmart. I can get ’em at 2:00 AM. They had glass and stainless steel and plastic, which I really like.

And again, simple three parts. Also, since it’s the like just universal narrow mouth, I could pump into those bottles and now I’m using them as a straw bottle cuz the Dr. Brown’s straw bottle attachments fit right on them. Really? Yeah. You have found so many weird little back doors like that. That is crazy.

Yeah. And I, I like to use glass bottles, so like that really appeals to me. Okay, so there you go. See, it doesn’t matter. Nope. And yeah, both our babies bottle fed just fine. Yep. They sure did. Okay. So then about, oh, wait quick. Okay. When you’re introducing a bottle, start pace feeding from the beginning. Mm-hmm. And listen to episode 18 of the podcast.

Right. We can’t get into that now but go check it out. Okay. Okay. So then about two weeks before you go back to work, you’re gonna start your pumping regimen. And this does not mean you’re pumping full-time, feeding baby full-time. No, this means that you’re gonna start with one pump a day. And I personally like to pump at a time where it will be convenient for you to have more milk later on.

Yep. So I usually recommend feeding baby first thing in the morning, baby breakfast, which is somewhere between 4:00 AM and 6:00 AM, well, four and seven. So usually it’s somewhere around six. So you feed baby directly and then you pump like 30 minutes later. Yeah. And I like that. And so sometimes. You know, you don’t get anything at first, but if you keep pumping at the same time every day, at that time, your body will be like, oh, Hey, like, look, here’s an extra two and a half, three ounces.

And then that milk actually can stay at room temperature and go to daycare with your baby or get you, just give it right to the caregiver. And that’s the next snack or the next meal. And they don’t even have to warm it up. Yeah. Cuz it’s already at room temperature and it’s good for six to eight hours.

If that doesn’t work for you, timing wise. I usually pump during baby’s first nap of the day. Especially, or like whatever nap is longest. Right? Well, so for like my nurse friends and shift workers that are like seven to seven. Yeah. We hit the ground running. Yeah. So what I usually say for those people is you direct feed your baby.

You pump before you leave the house and then you put your Elvie Stride or whatever, hands free pump you have on already, set a timer on your phone for two hours. And that way you’re gonna get to work, you’re gonna hit the ground running. You’re gonna get your patients or do whatever. Yeah. And then your alarm will go off in no time.

And all you have to do, cuz you’re already wearing the pump is hit start. Yeah. On the app. And it’ll start your pump for you. Before you go back to work, right, we just want you to at least find one time a day where you’re gonna start, because it’s not always easy. And frankly, I truly believe that people need time to adjust to a new type of breast stimulation.

There’s not a lot of research to back this up, but I find this is true with patients and myself. When we start using a new pump, you have to kind of get used to it. Some bodies will release the milk at the slightest touch. Other people need to kind of massage and get used to it and fiddle with the settings and kind of be like, okay, come on.

Let me just like, get, get that milk out now. Right. And give it a, give it a good while to do that because like I said, if you’re pumping right after feeding at first, you might not have anything. And that might not be the pump’s fault. It might just be that your supply has to upregulate a little bit at that time.

So, but if after a week of doing it at the same time, you’re not seeing any improvement or you’re feeling any pain you need to reach out. Mm-hmm. And then my other favorite time to recommend is like four o’clock. Yeah that afternoon time, because your milk naturally decreases in volume as the day goes on. And a lot of us are getting home from work around that time.

Like the four to 6:00 PM. When your milk is the lowest, you, you go to latch your baby and there’s like not much there. And baby’s frustrated cuz they’ve been having bottles all day. So if you can start to train your body to have a little bit more milk for you in those late afternoons, I think the transition is a lot easier when you walk back in the door with baby.

Yeah. And typically in these two weeks, I tell people to aim, to have about a day and a half’s worth of milk in the freezer. Maybe two days. For like the hours you’ll be at work, not 24 hour periods. Give me an example. Unless you work 24. So if you work an eight hour shift, probably, you know, I would, we’ll be sending maybe like 10 or 12 ounces to daycare with baby.

So I like to have about 18 or 20 in the freezer to begin with, because then you definitely have the first day’s milk and you have a little extra in case you’re like not quite pumping what you want because of the stress of returning to work. Mm-hmm. And we do have Episode 15 that will link in the show notes on how much milk to put in a bottle.

And while you’re doing this kind of practice run, think through your milk storage system and refresh your memory on milk storage guidelines. Or learn them to begin with, cuz you’ve never had to do that before, but when you’re pumping, be like, oh, if I were at work right now, would I wanna keep these in bottles in the fridge?

Would I wanna use a Ceres Chiller? Am I going to use bags? You know, and, and experiment with them because you don’t want the first day at work to be the first time you’re using anything like that. Yeah. And maybe put on a real shirt with a real bra and see what it’s like to actually pump in a work outfit. Put on your scrub top or your button down or whatever you wear to work.

And realize does this pumping bra work for me? Yeah. And if you are just holding your flanges on, like I did, instead of investing in a pumping bra, you’re wrong. And you’re gonna hurt your wrists. I don’t often say that you’re wrong, but you need to invest in a pumping bra, please help yourself. And there are some really cheap versions.

Like I think Bravado makes one that clips onto like any other nursing bra that’s really, really cheap. And there’s some that just go like over a regular. You have way too many options if I’m honest. But yeah try to try to find one that’s comfortable and that works for you. I also want you; I know this is a lot, but you will pay off.

In that week or two before you go back to work. I want you to do a little bit of counting on how many times in a 24 hour period, your baby feeds on average. If you’re one of those baby app users, you know this. Just average out a few days, if you’re not, keep a tally bedside or whatever. Because that can help you troubleshoot how many times you should be pumping at work, or if you need to nurse or pump at home to make up for the times you can’t pump at work.

And we go into lots and lots of details about this in Episode 103. To figure out your quote, magic number. If you wanna learn more. There is so much math in lactation. This is stupid. I didn’t know that, you know, when I’m sitting in math class in high school and I’m like, I’m never gonna use this.

It’s like, oh crap. I actually do use this. Yeah. Okay. The next thing I want you to do is to talk to your baby’s care provider. Who is gonna watch them while you’re at work? Husband, spouse. Mother-in-law, neighbor, daycare provider, whoever it is, talk to them, then. Make sure they know that you are breastfeeding.

Make sure they understand how to pace feed, how to appropriately portion milk. You know, talk to them, like, what do you want them to do if baby’s not satisfied with what you send? What do you want them to do if there’s leftovers? What are the daycare protocols about human milk? Can you send extra, can you send bags?

Do you need bottles? Like it’s so confusing. And every freaking daycare has a different rule. I swear. Mm-hmm. Because they, some people always come to Heather and I asking for help about it. And we’re like, what? Yeah. I can’t even believe the amount of crazy stuff that daycares have come up with for people. I’m like, that does not make any sense.

Yeah. And don’t be afraid to be like, Hey, it sounds like you haven’t worked with a lot of breastfed babies. Can I recommend some episodes of this podcast for you? Because some of our shorter, early episodes have really good how-to on all this stuff and just like, yeah. Send it to them. Yeah. So we’re gonna link episode 15 and 18.

Yeah. We’re gonna link a bunch because this episode is kind of like, what we’re doing right now is sort of bringing together information from like eight other episodes we’ve already done. Yeah. And we’re gonna put ’em all in one place. Yeah. But yeah, like get all that information. Can you send frozen milk?

Does it have to be totally thawed? What’s going on? And if you have time, do a trial run. A practice day, maybe it’s even a practice four hours. Where you leave your baby with their intended caregiver who will care for them while you’re at work, where baby can practice bottle feeding and you can practice pumping.

And also like if it doesn’t work, you can just get back together. Right. And also ask them if it’s possible to stop in and feed the baby if they do refuse a bottle. Yeah. Just to kind of know what your options are. Sometimes it can make you feel better to know the worst case scenario mm-hmm, you know, and prepare a little bit more.

So especially when you’re trying to prepare how much volume to send on the first day. Yeah. You wanna create a little bit of an extra buffer if the daycare is an absolute a-hole about letting you pop in, in an emergency. Yeah. It’s tough. On your to-do list also, before you return to work is to contact your employer, make sure they are aware of your legal medical accommodation to pump. Make sure they, and you fully understand the law surrounding that.

Be firm. Don’t ask for your accommodation. Inform. Make sure there is an appropriate pumping space, all of that. And if you have questions or if you’re like, I just wanna be better informed, you can go to and you can call the center for work life law at (415)703-8276. Or you can listen to episode 26. Yes.

And also just as a note that same website has a little downloadable form for employers for stuff they need to know. So you don’t have to educate them. You can just print out that sheet and hand it to them if they have any questions. Yeah. Yeah. There’s a whole, like when you go on that website, it’s like, are you an employer or an employee?

And it’s all that information on either side that you need to know. And the folks on that helpline are super wonderful, especially if you need to figure out accommodations because your workplace is exempt from the national law. So they’re super helpful. Do not be afraid to call. Right. Okay. So now what happens when we actually start work?

We’re now at this point in the journey. Yes. Everyone is crying. So you’re not, you’re not the only one here. If you feel like you can’t go through with it, like I could not drop my daughter off of daycare for the first time. My husband had to do it. I wouldn’t have been able to leave her. I even had trouble leaving my daughter at home with my partner on a day that I was like, self-employed going to work.

Like low stakes, lots of flexibility. I still cried in the car. Right. Yeah. So you’re not the only one. It’s hard. Please be kind to yourself. The first week really might not go the way you plan it. It does not mean that that’s gonna be how it is forever. A lot of you do like working. So if you get to work and you’re like, actually this feels amazing, don’t feel guilty about that. Yeah. That’s also okay.

And, you know, just be flexible, an understanding of yourself and, and your body. You’re asking a lot of your body and it’s okay to have some fluctuations from time to time. So if it’s not great the first week, then you make a phone call, you intervene early with one of us or another LC, and just make sure that there’s not a, a small tweak that we could do that would make your life a lot better.

Yeah. And if possible, I highly recommend people try to do a short week for their first week back. I get, it’s not always flexible, but if it’s possible, if you’re like, Hey, can I come back on a Wednesday? So you only have like two or three days of work and then the next week is a full week because that does kind of make it like more like a practice run.

Right, right. Definitely. And I also recommend packing your pump supplies the night before. Oh yes. Make a checklist. If you are checklist person who needs a list. Right. And then also plan for an extra 30 minutes in the morning. Yes. Because you, something will happen. There will be a blowout diaper that you just feel like you have to be the one to take care of, you know, to compensate for the fact that you are going to work.

Make the time and make sure you have time to nurse baby before you go, you know, even like do a dream feed if they’re not awake. You, you it’s just like, I always plan and I try to encourage people to plan to nurse before they leave and right when they get home. Even if baby just had a bottle. Who cares, see if they’ll latch. Yep. And also you might leak because you might not be pumping at the same time that baby was actually eating, which is okay.

Ideally you would be pumping around the same time. Sometimes when you go back to work, especially at six weeks, your baby’s not really in a pattern yet, so that can make things really difficult. So wear your breast pads, cuz you really might leak. And you don’t wanna be in a big board meeting. Pack an extra shirt just in case. Yes.

You know, plan, plan to leak. Dress accordingly. Right. Plan all of, plan for all the things to go wrong, hopefully so that if they do you are prepared. Yep. I also like to pack a little bag for creeps. You wanna know what I put in it? What? Grab your baby’s onesie that they slept in the night before and put it in a Ziploc bag so you can smell it while you’re pumping. Record an audio clip of your baby nursing and you can listen to that while pumping at work.

You can also go to episode 68 where we actually have a meditation specifically for pumping while you’re at work. Yeah. And, and do that. Plan to relax and connect with your baby when you pump. Right. Bring headphones and watch a show on your phone or listen to music or meditate or whatever. And do your best to use those 20 minutes to relax.

Yeah. Set that boundary with your coworkers very early on. Yes. Do not try to come in hot and show them like, oh look, I’m back. I’m bad. Oh yeah. I’m pumping while we’re in a meeting. I’m doing all these things. No, you are going to set that boundary early. You’re gonna say, Hey, I’m gonna go work in a different way.

I’m going to go work at turning my body into food. And then you make it time that actually feels good to you so you don’t dread it every day for the next six months or however long you’re doing it. So really it’s okay to create boundaries around pumping with coworkers and bosses. Yeah. And, you know, make sure you’re thinking through everything you need to do every time you need to pump.

Think through it. When in the morning when you’re packing, right. Do you have a fridge? Do you have a cooler? Do you have to have ice packs? Do you have to have ice for your chiller? Are you gonna use the fridge hack in between? Are you gonna wash in between? Do you need to pack multiple sets of pump parts?

Right. Does your pump have to be plugged in? Do you like, really try to think through those details because that is where things get super messed up pumping at work, right. Where, you know, you go back and you’re like, oh, I didn’t even think about washing parts between like, what was I thinking? I have to pump six times in this, you know, 20 hour shift and it can get really crazy.

So, you know, try to think through that the first day. If it all goes wrong, that’s fine. Keep a list of everything that went wrong. Go home and fix it. And you know, if God forbid you had a situation where you were a little bit more complicated than you had originally planned in your postpartum period.

So maybe you had a little NICU stay, maybe you had a more extensive surgery, don’t be afraid to call HR and see what your options are. You might be able to qualify for FMLA if you’re caring for your baby still that’s like above and beyond the short term disability. Yeah. That you were able to access.

So, you know, if you need more time, ask for it. Yeah. And maybe you can come back part-time. Maybe you can work a different shift than you used to work. Maybe your coworkers can donate sick days to you, so you can take an extra week. Yeah. And you know, just really, don’t be afraid to be clear about what you need, because it’s not just, you know, it’s, it’s about supporting you and your health and that matters.

And it’s about your baby’s health. Right. So it’s very important and it should be valued by those you work with. Right. And also if you’re the first person to pump at your job, which happens a lot. Yes. We hear this from a lot of people. Like, how am I the first person to ever need to pump at work? Please know that you are walking so that people after you can run.

And it is often an uphill battle. Use that Center for Work Life Law, phone number. Create a positive interaction with your employer about it so they don’t feel like you’re attacking them in any way or like demanding things, but that you’re building something together and remind them that this is where the culture is going.

We’re shifting back to breastfeeding and you might be the first, but you’re certainly not gonna be the last. I love to phrase it. When I’m when I’m, or if I’m talking to employers for people and just be like, yeah, I would like to help you be in compliance with the law. How can I help you do that? Oh, let me help you do that.

We should charge for that. Yeah. I, write work accommodation letters sometimes for people, or like help them get stuff together during their consults to give to their employers. Don’t be afraid to ask. Mm-hmm. Okay. Yeah. Well, I hope that was helpful for you guys. If there’s something that you did that should have been on this list that we didn’t think of, please email us at, and we really wish the best for you. I know it’s an emotional time, but you’re a badass and it’s gonna be great.

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I think it’s time for an award. I think it is. I know it is. Okay. So today’s award goes to one of our patrons. Susie H. Susie says, I fed him on planes, airports, casinos, national parks, rustic cabins, swanky hotels, poolside, and mountainside scenic outlooks, sometimes just long enough for a letdown. And then he would pop off of me to spray everywhere and sometimes a full feed and then comfort nursing for as long as I would let him. So glad my boobs easily came along for the ride on this vacation.

Yay. Okay, Susie, we love that. And we are going to give you the Tagalong Titties Award. Oh my God. So cute. Yeah, it’s crazy. Whenever you go on vacation and the kids just switch up their routines all over the place. Sure. They do. And that can make bottle feeding an absolute nightmare because you never know how much to thaw or how much to pack in a bottle because they’re so distracted, then you feel like you’re wasting it.

So I’m glad that she had the attitude she did about just like letting her baby do these weird things to her boobs. Empowering that you can do it. Still frustrating when you’re spraying everywhere, but still easier than bottles in my opinion for that scenario. Yeah. So good job, Susie. Wonderful. We are so happy you told us about that and don’t forget guys, if you want to be considered for an award, you can absolutely message us, email us, or join us on Patreon.

Yes. At ooh. Okay. Thank you for listening to another episode of the Milk Minute Podcast. The way we change this big system that may not provide an adequate pumping room for you and have you pumping in a cold little mop closet is by educating ourselves, our employers, our friends and our children.

If you thought this episode was helpful in any way, you can help us out in return by subscribing on your podcast player, leaving us a review there, on our website, sharing our episode with your friends, all of that. Ooh. And leave a review. Can I read an apple review? Review fun. We have a lot of reviews on apple and we love them.

And thank you for leaving them. Okay. We just got a great five star review from Abigail Elrod 1 Abigail says, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You ladies are the absolute best. I get so excited to listen to your podcast weekly. I’ve learned so much from listening. I nursed my first baby for 22 months and now my second baby is 10 days away from his first birthday and still going strong.

I follow your Instagram and I often have to remind myself not to comment on your post like we are friends because I definitely feel like we are friends. No, you should comment on our post like we’re friends. Please do. All of you should. She says you guys are just very relatable, realistic, so full of knowledge, help and good ideas.

I share your podcast with all my mom nursing pumping friends. My almost one year old nurses constantly during the day, on the weekends, or now that I’m home all the time, because I’m a teacher and he nurse 237 times a day. It’s. Sometimes for two minutes, sometimes for 25 minutes. Is this normal? Yes, it is.

Thank you for being amazing. Keep up the good work. Your number one groupie from Tennessee, Abigail. Aw, yay. Thanks. We really appreciate that. That’s the best. I’m gonna start reading one of these every episode. We should. We, we always mean to, and then we do other stuff, cuz we have so much to say and our brains are only so good you guys. Wait, we’re supposed to be wrapping up the episode. Okay. Bye. Goodbye.


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