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Thread: Back to work at 6 weeks. How to keep breastfeeding?

  1. #1

    Default Back to work at 6 weeks. How to keep breastfeeding?

    I am due any day now. My employer will allow me to take 12 weeks off, but the entire time I am gone I would have to pay for or pay back my insurance that they usually pay for while I work (they give a health benefit that pays for insurance, but they will not be giving that to me while on leave). That would translate into half of my paycheck until the end of the year and we just can't afford to pay that much.

    So now I will only be taking 6 weeks. My first child was born with a severe cleft lip and palate and was unable to latch. So I am extremely familiar with pumping and maintaining a supply. I'm not worried about pumping.

    My worry is that this baby will start to refuse the breast when I have to go back to work. All I ever wanted to do as a mother was breastfeed. I wasn't able to the first time around.

    Anyone go through this and have success maintaining the breastfeeding relationship with their baby? My goal is to reach at least 1 year breastfeeding or longer if baby wants to.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Default Re: Back to work at 6 weeks. How to keep breastfeeding?

    Hi momma.d and welcome!

    Many moms have gone back to work and continued to breastfeed for a long time. Yes, 6 weeks is a pretty short leave, but by understanding what the issues are that typically cause breastfeeding to end before mom would have otherwise liked, and taking the precautions necessary to avoid those, you can expect to continue to nurse your child as long as you like.

    My first suggestion is to do everything you can to get breastfeeding off to a great start. This is probably the single most important factor in breastfeeding success. This means, learn everything you can now about how to avoid problems in the early days, and if you have problems, get effective help immediately. Breastfeeding help is best provided by a very well trained and experienced lactation consultant and/or a volunteer peer counselor like a La Leche League Leader. I do not know how much help or support you got with your first baby as far as nursing goes, but obviously your experience there with establishing a good milk production and can be drawn on as well. Just be aware that the specifics can vary quite a bit when it comes to nursing rather than pumping.

    I know you do not have much time, but here is what I suggest.
    Get a hold of a copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (8th edition) and read the first 4-6 chapters to start, reading more as needed and there is time. Since you are already an experienced mom, you can skip any parts that do not apply to you or you already know about of course. If you already have read this book, I suggest, read it again. Later on you will also find lots of great information in the WAB about handling separations from baby, how to bottle feed the breastfed baby, etc. But right now there is no need to worry about that.
    Visit the website www.kellymom.com for excellent info on all aspects of breastfeeding. This is a great article for the early days/ weeks: http://kellymom.com/hot-topics/newborn-nursing/
    Find out if there are any LLL groups nearby and go to a meeting, before baby if at all possible. And/or, call the local Leader(s) and introduce yourself and explain you concerns.
    Find out if there are any lactation consultants (or breastfeeding clinics) in case you have issues in the early weeks. Contact them and ask about their training and experience, cost for consults, etc.
    Find out if the hospital you are giving birth have LCs and what their training is. Note that hospital based LCs can be quite helpful in the hospital, but very often simply do not have the time to help mothers with anything at all complicated. For that, you would probably need an outpatient consult.

    Expect to spend at least the first 3-4 weeks after baby is born nursing and learning this baby (and trying to get a little sleep.) Unless it is needed due to a severe breastfeeding problem, try not to worry at all about pumping or bottle introduction during this time. Line up as much help as you possibly can with minding for your older child, meals, housecare, etc. Ask for help! Lots of mothers find that with second baby, help in the newborn period evaporates because people assume you know what you are doing. Now of course you will know more- but you still need help!

    Why do some babies eventually refuse to nurse after mom goes back to work? There are a few possible reasons, all of which are entirely or at least mostly preventable.
    1) Baby is overfed with bottles and consequently loses interest in nursing
    2) Bottles are given in a way that is not breastfeeding supportive- meaning: too much, too fast, introduced too soon, or used for more feedings than is actually necessary
    3) Baby is not encouraged to nurse with normal (high) frequency when with mom, due to sleep training, meal scheduling, pacifier overuse, bottle given when baby could be nursing, or overfeeding with bottles.
    4) Baby is not encouraged or is discouraged to nurse overnight or for comfort or to sleep- or any circumstance that leads to baby getting more time with bottles than the breast. You want the opposite- most meals at the breast, lots of comfort nursing, and nursing to sleep.
    5) Mom thinks her milk production is not meeting demand and starts giving baby more bottles than needed, or is convinced by caregiver to send more in bottles than is needed for separations.
    6) Mom's milk production actually IS low due to poor pump performance, ill fitting pump, or not pumping often enough.*
    *Are you using the same pump you did with older child? Make sure it is in tip top condition still.
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; June 28th, 2016 at 08:54 PM.

  3. #3
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    May 2006
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    Default Re: Back to work at 6 weeks. How to keep breastfeeding?

    Great advice from MaddieB!

    It strikes me as a little fishy that your work will not pay your health insurance while you are on maternity leave. I did a quick google and found this resource: https://fairygodboss.com/career-topi...ou-should-know. It says, in part:

    "Do I receive benefits while I'm on maternity leave?

    If you qualify for FMLA leave, your company must continue to keep you on its health insurance plan while you're on leave. However, the company has the legal right to ask for the reimbursement of your health insurance premium payments if you do not return after your FMLA leave. Also, FMLA doesn't require employers to allow you to accrue benefits or time toward seniority when you're out on leave. That means the clock may stop on things like vacation accrual and the amount of time you can say you've been with the company in order to qualify for things like raises based on seniority, participation in your company's 401k plan or the vesting of your company's matching investment, or stock options. Finally, you won't be able to contribute to your 401k or flexible spending account while you're on leave because you're not receiving a paycheck from your employer and thus can't contribute pre-tax dollars. Most companies that offer fully-paid maternity leave (i.e. not through STD policies) also pay to cover your other employment benefits during this period. "

    If that is correct, you would need to reimburse the company for health insurance payments only if you did not return to work after the birth of your child. I think that I might contact a lawyer or someone who really understands FMLA law, were I in your shoes.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Back to work at 6 weeks. How to keep breastfeeding?

    Thank you for your reply! I have started ready the Womanlh Art of Breastfeeding, one of the books that inspired me to do a natural birth for the sake of my breastfeeding relationship. I have also started going to LLL meetings as often as possible. So I have a relationship with the leader, so I will have easy access to her. Unfortunately the closet LC is 4 hours away, which I used her with my pumping journey when I lived in that town. There really isn't too much help in my current area.

    I know it can be done, I just worry that he will refuse me after going back to work so early. After being so heart broken that my first baby couldn't latch, I would be devastated if this baby started refusing. We tried comfort nursing with my first baby and after awhile he became so frustrated not being able to keep suction that he started crying and refusing every time I tried putting him to the breast.

    As for my pump, I still have my old one but I will only have it as a back up. I'll be getting a new one for this baby. I used a Medela Pump in Style and this time I will be springing for a Spectra S2, I've heard a lot of good things about it.
    Last edited by @llli*momma.d; June 29th, 2016 at 10:26 AM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Back to work at 6 weeks. How to keep breastfeeding?

    Unfortunately I've only been with the company for 10 months so I do not qualify for FMLA. That's my biggest issue. They typically give a health benefit of $165 added on to our check to help pay for insurance, whether we go threw them or choose a separate plan. I will be receiving short term disability at 60% of my 40 hour work week, but I will not be receiving any other form of income or the health benefit while I am out. They don't offer paid maternity leave to any employee. Also they normally would have someone who is not protected under FMLA pay for insurance while they are out. However, my boss fought to have them pay for it while I'm gone and I will pay them back after I go back to work. They legally have to keep me on the insurance, but they don't have to pay for it while I am gone, but they have agreed to as long as I pay it back when I return.
    Last edited by @llli*momma.d; June 29th, 2016 at 09:55 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Back to work at 6 weeks. How to keep breastfeeding?

    Try to remember this is a different baby and things will be different, one way or another! Breastfeeding is normal, and most babies love to nurse. It actually takes some doing to get a baby to not want to nurse and instead "prefer" bottles. This baby will be a breastfed baby who gets a few bottles a day when you cannot be with baby. That is very different from your older child.

    I assume your older child was bottle fed basically from day one, correct? This would mean that baby was not only acclimated to bottles from very early on, they also possibly could not latch or nurse well enough to get milk at the breast at an amount that would keep them interested. When a child nurses for comfort, they are still getting milk- Basically, all nursing is both for nutrition and comfort. The reason I stressed "comfort nursing" is that moms are so often discouraged from letting baby nurse as much as baby wants, or from nursing to sleep, etc. And limiting time at the breast to avoid so called "comfort nursing" can be detrimental to breastfeeding longevity.

    Aside from paced feeding, you could also talk to your caregiver about using an open cup instead for at least the first several weeks. (or always) I can link info and videos for paced feeding and cup feeding should you like.
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; June 29th, 2016 at 10:47 AM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Back to work at 6 weeks. How to keep breastfeeding?

    Thank you MaddieB, that is actually very reassuring. And yes, my first had to be bottle fed from day one. He couldn't form a seal even remotely no matter what we tried, position, breast shield, his lip and palate were just way to open. Trying to hand express into his mouth didn't work either. Even with an SNS system he refused. He was only able to get roughly half an ounce from breast when he would try to nurse, and that was mostly due to my letdown reflex. I had no problem letting him, he just wouldn't. With this one I will definitely let him nurse as long as he wants, for both nutrition and comfort. I hate to use the saying "comfort nursing". I believe a baby needs comfort just as much as they need nutrition.

    I am familiar with paced and cup feeding. We did paced feeding with my first and some cup feeding after surgeries.

    I am so excited to breastfeed, now if only the little firecracker would make his appearance.

    Thanks for the advice and reassuring words. It does put my mind more at ease.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Back to work at 6 weeks. How to keep breastfeeding?

    I hate to use the saying "comfort nursing". I believe a baby needs comfort just as much as they need nutrition.
    Yes I do not like the term either. I only use it because it is so often used in a way that undermines breastfeeding, (as in, "Oh, he is ONLY comfort nursing." but it really is a silly term. Presumably all nursing is comforting, and even if all that is happening is comfort (no milk transfer) why would you not want to comfort a baby?

    Often people use comfort nursing as another way of saying "non-nutritive sucking." You may have heard that one with your older child who had a physical barrier to being able to nurse. But that is another term that is often misunderstood. There is nothing wrong with non-nutritive sucking if it is comforting and the baby is getting enough to eat somehow!

    It sounds like you are way ahead of the game with your already deep knowledge and understanding of breastfeeding from your previous experience. Sometimes it is the babies who have the most trouble nursing or just can not nurse despite all efforts that teach us the most.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Back to work at 6 weeks. How to keep breastfeeding?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*momma.d View Post
    Unfortunately I've only been with the company for 10 months so I do not qualify for FMLA. That's my biggest issue. They typically give a health benefit of $165 added on to our check to help pay for insurance, whether we go threw them or choose a separate plan. I will be receiving short term disability at 60% of my 40 hour work week, but I will not be receiving any other form of income or the health benefit while I am out. They don't offer paid maternity leave to any employee. Also they normally would have someone who is not protected under FMLA pay for insurance while they are out. However, my boss fought to have them pay for it while I'm gone and I will pay them back after I go back to work. They legally have to keep me on the insurance, but they don't have to pay for it while I am gone, but they have agreed to as long as I pay it back when I return.
    What a bummer! I am glad you have a good boss, at least.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Back to work at 6 weeks. How to keep breastfeeding?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*maddieb View Post
    Yes I do not like the term either. I only use it because it is so often used in a way that undermines breastfeeding, (as in, "Oh, he is ONLY comfort nursing." but it really is a silly term. Presumably all nursing is comforting, and even if all that is happening is comfort (no milk transfer) why would you not want to comfort a baby?

    Often people use comfort nursing as another way of saying "non-nutritive sucking." You may have heard that one with your older child who had a physical barrier to being able to nurse. But that is another term that is often misunderstood. There is nothing wrong with non-nutritive sucking if it is comforting and the baby is getting enough to eat somehow!

    It sounds like you are way ahead of the game with your already deep knowledge and understanding of breastfeeding from your previous experience. Sometimes it is the babies who have the most trouble nursing or just can not nurse despite all efforts that teach us the most.
    I couldn't agree more. I don't see anything wrong with a baby being comforted by breastfeeding, whether its to eat or just suck. Its completely natural.

    My son definitely taught me quite a lot in our journey. And yes I heard the term non-nutritive sucking, I preferred it to comfort nursing. It killed me he wasn't comforted by being at the breast.
    This one will just be so different and I just worry that I won't be prepared enough, but then again I feel like anyone hardly is ever prepared enough.

    Thanks again for the support and advice!

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