How to Make Breastfeeding Work For You

What working moms should know about breastfeeding

Moms are amazing. We balance all kinds of responsibilities and demands. For working moms, the search for work-life balance is particularly elusive. You’ve got grocery lists, conference calls, loads of laundry, client meetings—oh, and you need to make sure your baby is fed, clothed, clean and happy. So how do you work breastfeeding into that work-life mix?

The key to making it all work is finding what works for YOU. Every mom is different with a unique home life and work role. Be open to trying new routines and techniques until you find the best way to fit breastfeeding into your busy lifestyle. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Simplify your life:

As a working mom, it’s the little things that will throw you for a loop, like when your baby wakes up early and cuts into your getting ready time, or doesn’t want to wake up so you can nurse before you leave for work. Make it easier on yourself – shower at night and only wash your hair a few times each week. Lay out your clothes (and the baby’s!) the night before, so your husband can get baby dressed while you get ready. Use Peapod to do your grocery shopping during your lunch break. And cut yourself a little bit of slack when things don’t go as planned.

Find the optimal number and length of pumping sessions

Consider how pumping sessions best fit into your work schedule—and how you respond to the pump. Some moms need a certain number of pumping sessions per workday to keep up their supply. Others can stretch the time between sessions and simply extend the time of each one to produce what their baby needs. Do what works best for you.

Turn down invitations

Sometimes, we just have to say “no.” When an after-work event or an extra project comes your way, it’s an opportunity to assess your calendar—and your priorities. How will this affect your career, your life, your family? And to keep it real, will you have a time and place to pump?! It may seem silly, but those work dinners and special committee meetings can slowly add up and suddenly feel like too much.

Use combination feeding if needed

Breastfeeding is so beneficial for your baby, but you need to stay sane and healthy. If feeding your baby a combination of breastmilk and formula means you’re a better mom, worker and person, do it. Stressing out about exclusively breastfeeding can affect everything from your mental focus to your actual milk supply. Let’s remember the main goal: a happy, healthy mom and baby.

Look at exclusively pumping

Some mothers simply aren’t comfortable with the breastfeeding aspect of nursing, or cannot get their baby to latch, but that doesn’t mean that their baby’s can’t benefit from breast milk. Exclusively pumping is a special kind of commitment, but for some moms, it provides some extra flexibility—especially as they build a stash. When you’re already in the routine of pumping throughout the workday and your baby takes bottles regularly, you could consider pumping before and after work too to ensure that your baby gets the benefits of breast milk for the long haul. Plus, it means your partner can help with some of those middle-of-the-night feedings (yay for more sleep!).

Be open to nursing in public

Finding a private place to nurse your baby is not always an option. The best solution is to get comfortable with nursing in public. Whether that means finding a great nursing cover, a handy breastfeeding position or a comfy nursing-friendly outfit, do what you need to make it work. And hey, if someone gives you a funny look for showing a little side-boob, remember you’re feeding your baby and that should happen wherever it needs to happen.

Here is what you need to know most of all: There is no such thing as work-life balance. Balance is just that—a teetering, ever-changing, back-and-forth process. And that work-life ratio is almost never an equal 50-50 split. There will be days and weeks and seasons when one will demand more than the other, but that’s okay. Some days, you’ll feel on top of the world and other days, you’ll feel like you’re barely hanging on. That’s life as a mom, and you’re doing just fine!