Going Back to Work
As one prepares to go back into the workforce after having a baby, the process of beginning a new daily routine, ensuring enough nourishment is available for the baby, and learning to “get back to it” after some time away can be a little (or a lot) overwhelming.
For some, going back to work is a saving grace. There’s a familiarity with how the day will go, what is expected of them, and how to navigate the tasks. For others, going back to work is dreary and daunting—the idea of leaving the home and the baby in the care of someone other than them. In between, some aren’t thrilled to go back but are accepting of the responsibility. Perhaps it gives a balance to their day, a break, and an opportunity to be missed.
Options for Childcare
Going back to work requires some thoughts about who will watch the baby, where will the baby be watched, and what are the expectations for watching the baby. Staying at home, or working from home is one option for childcare. During the pandemic, many found work-at-home jobs to be convenient and helpful; while also allowing the serenity of being the caretaker. In-home daycares offer the care of a skilled professional in the environment of home; often the caretakers’ home. This generally costs less than a daycare facility and provides the comfort of a homey feel. A professional daycare facility is an established business (often a franchise). They adhere to specific guidelines and regulations for caregiving. Whoever is chosen as childcare for going back to work, assure that the individual or facility is versed in storing, preparing, and reheating breastmilk properly.
Discuss your Pumping Rights
There are rights when it comes to pumping and the work environment. According to law, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to provide eligible employees with reasonable break time to pump breast milk for their nursing child for one year after the child’s birth. Under the law, employers are required to allow eligible employees reasonable break time to pump whenever needed. Employers are also required to provide eligible employees with a private place to pump—space that is shielded from view, free from intrusion, and NOT in a bathroom.
Milk Storage at Work
Storing milk in preparation for transporting it from work to home is relatively easy. Pack extra pumping storage bags and bottles “just in case”. Keeping all of the parts together once cleaned can cut down on the lost pieces. Having a drawer of snacks and other needed accessories also makes the art of pumping, storing, and transporting a breeze.
Pumped milk can remain at room temperature for 4-6 hours. Sealed pumped milk in the pumped container or transferred to a milk storage bag. Therefore, if one works an eight hour shift and pumps during your lunch break, there’s no immediate need to place it in a cooler or refrigerator. Otherwise, after pumping the pumping container (ie bottle or milk bag) can be placed in a cooler. Once cooled in a cooler with an ice pack, expressed breastmilk will remain fresh for 24 hours. Which transpires to more than enough time to transport home. Be sure to choose a vessel that has a secured closed top. The last thing one wants is to spill the fruits of the labor.
Going Back to Work & Establishing a Routine
Determine how much to pack or pump in order to get the baby through your time apart. On average, there should be 1 ½-2 ounces for every hour that the nurser and the baby will be apart. Try to introduce a bottle or sippy cup at least 2 weeks before heading back to work. This allows time for adjustments in the baby and getting used to a new way of establhings a daily routine. When there is change all at once, a baby may not take to the change favorably. Ease into a pattern that works for the family, and allows for smooth execution. This may take a few trial runs. Be patient and find what works for you.
A set pattern or routine can be helpful in staying on task and making it out the door on time. Give yourself plenty of time to get up, do your morning preparations, get dressed, grab breakfast and a beverage, give the diaper bag a second look, and get everyone into the car. Some days may be a little more difficult to navigate, and that’s okay!
It’s no secret that maternity/paternity leave in America is lackluster. The standard 6-8 weeks of no pay, the promise of holding the position of the job for a minimum of 12 weeks. (US Family Medical Leave Act) Know your rights, and stand up for what is entitled to you during this time.