We recently spoke to a group of mothers returning to work in a month at our Healthy Horizons Back to Work Class. Many mothers had the same issues and concerns returning to work. We talked to the mothers about what they can do to prepare themselves for their return to the workplace. We also noted what companies can do to assist their employees’ return to work. Here are three ways you can address the top concerns of mothers going back to work
1. Provide easy access to information about your company’s services and support for mothers.
The mothers were nervous about going back to work because they were not sure how to fit pumping breastmilk into their workday. Their normal work routine has changed drastically from their lives pre-baby. Some of them were not sure where to pump or what their workplace provided. They were not familiar with what their mother’s room was like or what was provided in it, like a refrigerator. They felt nervous about talking to their managers about having to take pumping breaks. One mother said she would be away from her baby at least 10 hours a day, plus an hour each way commuting and that her workplace had no specific accommodations for breastfeeding mothers. She did not know where to go or who to talk to at her business to help figure out a way to pump milk 4 times during the day.
Businesses can help by proactively communicating to their employees what services and support they provide and where to go for more help. Managers should be open to questions and be able to discuss any concerns their employees may have. Ensure that your managers know where an employee can find out what breastfeeding support your company provides. Consider implementing a back-to-work informational program or class to inform new mothers what support your company provides for new mothers. Including a tour of the mother’s room and what the procedures are for using it is a great way for new mothers to learn what your company provides. If your mother’s room includes hospital grade pumps, consider having a demonstration on how the pump works and what parts are needed so mothers know how to properly use them. A person familiar with pumps such as a lactation educator or consultant would be best to demonstrate and answer questions. Healthy Horizons can help your company educate moms on what your company provides through classes and other programs.
2. Create a supportive mother’s room.
The moms in our group had many questions and concerns about the logistics of a pumping routine, such as handling milk, and managing and cleaning pump equipment. They were not sure how they were able to juggle all of that at work and be able to bring home milk for their baby.
Giving mothers access to additional information and a few extra items in the mother’s room can help alleviate their concerns. Providing information such as how to store and handle milk or information on how to clean pump parts is very helpful. If your mother’s room has a sink, provide soap and disposable towels to clean the pump parts. For emergencies, provide wipes that are made specifically for cleaning pump parts if a mother drops her equipment or forgets to bring extra equipment. Have extra milk bags available in case a mother has run out of bags or space in her milk bottles. A service like the one Healthy Horizons provides can ensure that your mother’s room is clean and stocked regularly.
3. Provide local breastfeeding information or a company support group
The biggest concern working mothers have is how to keep up their milk supply. They are often worried if they are producing enough milk for their babies. Being concerned about low milk supply adds to the stress of being away from their baby and juggling work and family. They may be unsure if working and breastfeeding is going well and may have concerns. Such as, is their baby is getting enough milk? Or do they have enough stored milk for emergencies or work travel?
Additional stress can impact not only their milk supply but also their productivity at work. It is important for mothers to understand how much breastfed babies take in during the day and if their baby is getting enough. Since every mother and baby is unique, it is good to have a resource where a mother can discuss her concerns and get advice for her situation. There are many ways your business can help. You can provide her information and additional breastfeeding resources.
Larger companies can have a regularly scheduled seminar with a lactation consultant, perhaps every 6 months, for mothers to come in and ask questions. This is a great way to support moms and for them to support each other.
With a little planning, you can easily implement these strategies into your workplace. Healthy Horizons can help you set up programs to educate and support your employees on working and breastfeeding. Both you and your employees will appreciate the results of having a supportive environment at your company!