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Milk Maids: Tips For Breastfeeding At Work:

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Whether you’re an employer or employee the issue of working mothers and those that choose to breastfeed may is something you should understand and be prepared for. Here is a list of what professionals classify as the bare essentials.

1. A handheld or electric breast pump.

2. Additional bottles, breast shields, and an ice pack if you anticipate storing and keeping the breast milk.

3. A picture of your child, which makes the “tedious” task easier.

4. A bottle brush with a nipple-brush attachment for cleaning the bottles.

5. A bottle (or two) of water for yourself. Drinking bolsters milk flow and is essential for keeping you hydrated. You should also keep handy a granola bar or apple for a snack, and have a bad to carry it all in.

6. Breastfeeding on the job means being prepared. Make sure you have a clean blanket readily available and a nursing-friendly dress, blouse or sweater. You many choose to nurse in your car, or in a private area near the company’s receptions desk (where your caregiver can meet you at mealtimes). Whatever you choose, remember to be discreet.

Another key factor professionals point out is the importance of informing your employer of your intentions and getting his/her approval….and (from where you’ll be breastfeeding or nursing, to where you’ll be storing the milk), they say you should work out the logistics before returning to work.

According to experts, it’s also important (for employee morale) that you (without being obvious) let your co-workers know your intentions, especially so they don’t get the impression that you have special privileges and are arbitrarily disappearing several times a day.

Another suggestion professionals make, is finding ways to keep productive, even during your ‘time outs”. Perhaps, you can catch up on emails or sending out letters, returning phone calls or catching up on the latest business periodicals etc.

It’s imperative to keep in mind that as a working mom, you’ll also have to learn to juggle two very important things at once, and that requires much (more) patience. You may not be able to pump all the mild you expected to initially or you may feel awkward and uncomfortable about nursing in an unfamiliar spot which may prevent you from “doing what you have to do”. Give yourself (and the company) time to adjust, and things will happen “naturally”.
You can make matters easier on yourself by (also) dressing for the occasion. There are certain outfits, that, say the experts, can make pumping milk or breastfeeding easier. The worst choices include a one-piece fitted wool jumper, or sweater. Your best investment, on the other hand, is specialized nursing attire.

You’ll also want to be prepared for some adversity. While you may feel you should be commended for trying to balance motherhood with work, fellow workers or supervisors may not (entirely) share your views, and some may even be a little “freaked out” by the idea. Keep in mind, that the best you can do is politely try to educate them and remain discreet so as to not be “offensive”.

One of the best things you can (also) do for yourself, especially with respect to adjusting and learning to cope, is finding a support system. Get involved with a woman’s group or online discussion and don’t be shy about venting your feelings or asking for opinions or suggestions.

Experts further suggest letting go of the (negative) stigma or guilt about being a working MOM. Remember, both are important and this potentially awkward situation is only temporary. Don’t hesitate to show pride for what you’ve chosen to do, and that even includes excusing yourself from meeting, etc. to take care of business (as long as you don’t abuse the privilege).

Next: Part 2 - Tips For Employers >>

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