Breastfeeding and Work – Let’s make it work!
Most mothers think that they need to stop breastfeeding when they return to work. Actually, the older your baby is, the easier it is to continue breastfeeding while working. If you need to return to work before your baby is 5 to 6 months, you will need to express your breastmilk to keep up your milk supply. If you go back to work later, your breasts will adapt to the situation and, after an initial period of slight engorgement, your breasts will follow the new routine and will produce milk only when your baby breastfeeds. In Canada, there is a parental leave of 1 year which facilitates a longer breastfeeding period.
It is quite easy to breastfeed while working as your body and your child adapt to changes. The difficulties usually reside in the environment. For example, is it possible for your employer to give you an extended break to go breastfeed your baby or to pump your milk? Is there a private area that you can use or is the daycare close enough to your workplace to go there and come back during break time?
In Eeyou Itschee, there is rarely more than 2 km distance from one end of the community to the other. Daycares are close to the center of town and if you have a job in the community, it is quite feasible to go breastfeed during breaks and at lunchtime. It is actually relaxing to spend quiet time with your child.
My experience when I moved in Mistissini was quite positive and a little different. I came to Mistissini to work for the Public Health Department of the CHB and as my husband needed to finish a contract in Montreal, I came alone with my 2 years old daughter. The daycare was full so I had to take her to work with me and I breastfed her many times in my office cubicle. I used to put her to sleep for her nap on my thick woolen parka. I’d slide her under my desk near me while I was working. This went on until they had a place for her at daycare. She was drinking and eating on her own so she didn’t need to be breastfed regularly. She asked for her juju when I was with her but drank water while at daycare. I had chosen for breastmilk to be the only milk she received, but this is a personal choice. There are many other options.
The experience of a co-worker of mine was also very similar. She had a 9 months old baby and was able to adjust her working schedule around her baby’s needs; bringing him to the daycare early, coming to work and going back to breastfeed him in the morning, at lunchtime and in the afternoon. He breastfeed as he had before in the evening and whenever they were together.
With support from family, friends, the employers and the community, it is possible to breastfeed and work! Try it and you will see!