Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Working Mother - Breastfed Baby

I returned to work Monday after nearly a year off on maternity leave. 11am found me expressing in the ladies. The not so glamorous side of the working breastfeeding mother.

In the UK, businesses have no specific legal obligation to provide for breastfeeding mothers. However there are some slightly fluffier laws about the health and safety of the pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, though the latter part remains unclear as to whether that's only until the baby is 6 months old.

It's the health and safety bit that had me pondering as I rinsed my pump out in the sink, precariously balancing my precious bottle on top of the hand towel dispenser seeing as the only other option was the floor... of the toilet.

Unfortunately, pondering is as far as it will get because there is literally nowhere else in the building I could go to pump in private, so I'm just going to have to grin and bear it because I really do want to continue providing my daughter with breastmilk while I'm at work.

So I'd like to write briefly about making the most of the situation you're in when it comes to expressing. Because very often this is the best its going to get.

Think first about the conditions necessary for expressing.

* You need to be calm
* You need to feel comfortable

The reason I put these as my top two are that Oxytocin plays a huge part in effective expressing. Spending a couple of minutes emotionally preparing yourself will save you several minutes of non 'profitable' pumping so its worth the time investment.

Once you're sat as comfortably as you can be (perched on a poo seat in my case), close your eyes and take a deep breath. Then working from the top, focus on relaxing your muscles, paying particular attention to your neck, shoulders and arms.

Don't start until you've relaxed as best you can. Some mothers find it helpful to actually imagine nursing their baby. I actually carry a picture with me so that visualization is even easier.

Bear in mind that not everyone feels the 'let down' reflex but when you express, when you do let down, you'll know, as the milk flows freely. The difference between a session where you do let down and one where you don't is significant. There is generally much more.

Making the most of the natural Oxytocin is the key to expressing in less than ideal circumstances. Ideally you'll be perfectly comfortable, every part of your body supported so that no tensed muscles inhibit the pumping session but in the absence of fluffy cushions, visualization is the next best thing.

I was frankly anxious about expressing at work but by taking a few moments to relax and just imagining those bottles filling up... before I knew it, it had happened.

I'm not trying to over simplify this, I know expressing can be and is a real challenge, but it is worth a try.

Do you have any tips for successful expressing/pumping?
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