How long is long enough?
— Linda Estrin, 43, Los Angeles,
mother of Adam, 6, and Robin, 3
Working Moms’ Dilemma
Some working women think breastfeeding isn’t worth the effort because they have to return to the office a few months after the baby is born. Not true, experts say. They suggest getting into a routine as soon as your maternity leave expires; nurse when your breasts are full in the morning and again before you leave the house. Once or twice a day at work, pump in a quiet room and store the milk in a refrigerator for use the next day.
Be ready to improvise. I once pumped my overfilled breasts in the stall of a public bathroom, hoping the humming noise wouldn’t alarm anyone. I stored the milk in a cooler bag and then stuffed both into a black backpack that doubled as my purse. Breast milk will keep at room temperature for up to eight hours after being pumped, Johnson says, with no significant buildup of bacteria.
Resume breastfeeding when you get home, and do it as often as possible during the evening and through the night to re-establish your milk supply and your bond with your baby.
Just getting started? Barger offers these suggestions:
1. Attend a breastfeeding class before your baby arrives, or contact a lactation expert. Ask your doctor or birth-class educator for experts in your area.
2. Put the baby to your breast as soon as possible after delivery — preferably within the first hour — and keep at it. And remember: It does get easier and more comfortable.
3. If possible, keep your baby in the hospital room with you to minimize separation.
4. Don’t be shy about asking about breastfeeding positions and how to get the baby to latch on to the breast.
5. Four days after delivery, you should be breastfeeding at least eight times in 24 hours. One way to ensure that your baby is getting enough food is to count diapers. At least six wet and three or more dirty diapers a day suggests that your newborn is getting his fill, Barger says. This will taper off as he gets older.
Be ready to recite those diaper statistics to anyone who asks how you know whether your baby is hungry. Believe me, people won’t hesitate to ask. As someone said to me, “How can you possibly tell he’s getting enough milk without those little calibrations on the side of the baby bottle?”
As for those critics who righteously wonder aloud just how long you plan to nurse your child, consider telling them to mind their own business. Or, as Barger suggests, end the conversation with an answer like this: “I plan to wean him before he goes away to college.”