Caryn's Experience Returning to Work
Pictured: Parent room at CH Smith Centre, Launceston and Caryn with Floyd (15 months)
My workplace is breastfeeding-friendly
During my pregnancy I was aware that my workplace was an accredited Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace. I spoke to my manager and colleagues about the support that was available for returning to work while breastfeeding.
Bub was 10.5 months and breastfeeding three times a day when I started back at work. My mum and husband shared the caring role. We did some practice runs in the weeks leading up to my start date. After discussing a staggered approach to return to work with my manager, I decided to dive in and work my normal part-time hours. My manager checked in with me regularly to see how we were all coping, bub seemed to cope well with the transition. I had the option to drop back my hours and slowly reintroduce them if needed.
Expressing at work
I felt supported by my colleagues and manager to take lactation breaks. I scheduled a lactation break in my calendar and used the dedicated parenting room which has a locked door and was a comfortable space to express, even though it has no windows and is a bit sterile. I found looking through my phone at pictures and videos of bub helped me to express more quickly. I stored the expressed milk in the fridge in the parent room and collected it at the end of the day (most days!).
From the very beginning of returning to work I struggled to express enough milk for bub during the day. I relied on some back up supplies in the freezer which helped for a little while. I wanted to keep expressing as I felt like I should give him some milk to drink in my absence. I soon realised that when I breastfed him this feed at home, it was becoming very short, and he was slowly reducing this feed naturally. We ended up stopping this feed and replacing it with a snack after a few months.
My advice for others
Get familiar with your workplace policies around return to work and lactation breaks. Talk to your manager about what you might need to help you navigate through this new situation. Talk to others who have returned to work while breastfeeding or expressing. Remember babies’ habits change constantly! For advice or just someone to talk to about bub call the ABA free national helpline 1800 686 268.