Thoughtful Parenting: Returning to work and breastfeeding
September 24, 2017
Breastfeeding significantly improves the health and wellbeing of mothers and babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests breastfeeding for at least one year due to numerous short and long-term health benefits.
Breast milk contains cells, hormones and antibodies that help protect babies from illness. Studies show breastfed infants are less likely to develop ear infections, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, some childhood cancers and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). They also have a lower risk of obesity later in life.
Breastfeeding is important for mother-baby bonding and also benefits the mother's health.
It's important for breastfeeding moms to have the support they need to make a successful transition back to school or work.
The Colorado Workplace Accommodations Act requires employers provide women reasonable time and a private place to express milk. Talk to your health care provider about returning to work while breastfeeding, and take advantage of programs that help moms overcome work-related and other breastfeeding challenges.
The Women, Infants and Children program at Northwest Colorado Health provides breastfeeding information, counseling and breast pumps for mothers who qualify. WIC can also educate employers about The Colorado Workplace Accommodations Act and help them make easy adjustments to comply with the law and support their breastfeeding employees.
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Call 970-871-7677 for more information about WIC. Public Health nurses also are available to help breastfeeding working moms with questions or concerns. Call 970-879-1632.
On-call lactation assistance is available by calling the UCHealth Birth Center at Yampa Valley Medical Center at 970-871-2412. The hospital also offers a free eight-week breastfeeding class. Call 970-871-2412.
The following are tips for starting your breastfed baby in child care:
- If possible, make your return to work as gradual as possible on a part-time schedule.
- Arrange it so that your first week back starts in the middle of the week.
- Practice pumping at least two weeks before starting child care.
- Start offering a small amount of breast milk in a bottle at the same time of day for at least two weeks before your baby begins child care. Offer the bottle when baby is relaxed and not upset.
- Use feeding positions that are different from nursing positions. Walk, rock or sway with baby while offering the bottle. Try having someone else feed your baby from the bottle.
- Never microwave breast milk. It can destroy important nutrients and cause hot spots that could burn baby's mouth.
- When away from your baby, pump as often as your baby would usually nurse or at least every three to four hours to maintain your supply. Colorado supports breastfeeding moms through the Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers Act.
- If your baby is in a growth spurt, nurse and pump more frequently. Your milk supply will catch up to meet demand within three to four days.
- Refrigerate or freeze breast milk in clean glass or BPA–free plastic bottles with tight fitting lids or storage bags approved for breast milk. Ask your lactation support provider for guidelines on storing breast milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Child care centers and licensed child care providers follow Colorado regulations on storage in order to prevent bacteria from growing in the milk.
- Complete a written feeding plan with your child care provider and review and update it regularly.
This article includes information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Colorado WIC.
Beth Watson RN, BSN, is a public health nurse at Northwest Colorado Health, which has been a member of the Routt County Early Childhood Council since its inception in 1997.