Publish 7 October 2021
Challenges Facing New Moms
October Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Are you basking in the glow of childbirth? Maybe the illumination has dimmed and you are pulling your remaining hair out from the lack of sleep. If you’re a career woman, you recognize the challenge of breastfeeding and getting back to work. Should you use baby formula, pump your breast milk, or switch back and forth?
The initial few weeks were a blur for me as a new mom. The struggle to manage everything was stressful. For a mother still finding my way, the idea of the inevitable return to work worried me. Perhaps some questions I had are running through your mind:
- How can I leave this tiny precious person behind?
- Can I return to work after many sleepless nights?
- How can I adapt to day-care drop offs?
- Should I stop breastfeeding and use baby formula?
As a woman, planning your return to work is very emotional. It is the first time you separate from your baby for long stretches.
Continuing to breastfeed was the best decision that I made! It helped me form an intimate bond, giving my baby extra comfort and protection for a long time. Here I talk about all the ways and reasons to provide breast milk even with a busy schedule.
Importance of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is the best way to ensure your baby’s health and survival. Breastmilk includes complete sustenance for an infant up to a half-year old. There are other advantages for the mother and child.
- It produces regular antibodies that help your infant resist infections. 
- It’s generally easier to digest than formula milk. So breastfed children are less constipated and gassy.
- It might bring down the danger of Sudden Infant Death Syndromes (SIDS) during the first year of your infant’s life. 
- Studies show breastfed children have more significant levels of intellectual capacity. 
- Breast milk may improve your youngster’s health in later years by reducing the risk of being overweight. [4,7]
- It nurtures an incredible bond between you and your baby.
Breastfeeding For Cancer Prevention
You now recognize that lactating is part of the pregnancy process. Breastfeeding gives your infant definite lifelong advantages. But it goes further. Breastfeeding can reduce your breast cancer risk.
- Moms who breastfeed have fewer monthly cycles throughout their lives. This results in less estrogen production.  Estrogen fuels breast cancer.
- Breastfeeding makes breast cells more impervious to changes that can cause malignant growth. 
- During breastfeeding, you shed breast tissue. This shedding helps drop cells with potential DNA damage. 
- Lifestyle changes come into play. Breastfeeding women quit smoking and drinking and eat healthier food. These practices decrease breast cancer risk.
- The longer you breastfeed your baby, the stronger your resistance against the disease becomes.
AAP Recommendations for Breastfeeding
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests breast milk as the best nutrition for babies. 
- Exclusive breast milk during the initial six months.
- When you introduce solids, continue breastfeeding until the baby is a year old.
- Beyond one year, you can breastfeed as long as both you and the baby are willing.
A Busy Mom’s Guide To Breastfeeding
There are many benefits of breast milk. So it’s helpful to feed your newborn with this wonder food. Now I must acknowledge that breastfeeding has its challenges.
As a mom, you need to find balance in your home and other chores while caring for an infant. Breastfeeding can get tiring and seem unmanageable. But you have a helpful option—and a decent one at that—use breast pumps!
Get Pumped Up to Return to Work
Some breast pumps are manual and others are automatic. How does it feel? You may feel a bit uncomfortable during the first 15 seconds as your nipples begin to stretch. Then as your milk starts to flow, you may feel a tingling “pins and needles” sensation. Some mothers nurse their baby from one breast while pumping the other. For greater volume, two automatic pumps can pump both breasts simultaneously.
You don’t need to begin pumping until about two weeks before returning to work. Start pumping once every day to become acclimated to it. This also assures you of having some handy for your first days at work. Store milk in 2–3 oz servings to limit waste. Write the date and time on each portion you refrigerate.
It is helpful to begin pumping at home. Start early to make the transition less stressful.
Timing is Everything
Putting away a lot of milk too soon can prompt issues:
- You’re preparing your body to create more milk than your infant needs. Later if the breast isn’t emptied, it could prompt a clogged milk duct or mastitis. 
- If you do exclusive breastfeeding, you’ll still need to pump a few times each day at work. This is true even if you have a good supply of frozen breastmilk at home.
That’s why you need a good pumping schedule and store just enough milk.
How to Store Breast Milk?
Sanitize all equipment before you start. Are you pumping at the workplace? Keep expressed milk in a cool sack with ice packs until getting it to your home refrigerator.
You can use milk storage bags marked with the dates and times you pump them. But, remember the 5-5-5 rule:
- Milk can stay out for five hours (immaculate*).
- You can refrigerate milk for five days.
- You can freeze milk for five months.
You Can Do It
Having a busy schedule and breastfeeding is difficult. But, trust me, things get easier with time. Keep in mind, the first few days or weeks will be the hardest for you and your baby. Learn about proper latching techniques from your ob-gyn or pediatrician.
Remember why you’re doing this. It’s for that sweet baby who is depending on you to be healthy and strong. Breastfeeding can reduce your cancer risks. And when you feed your little one, you will both cherish a lifelong bond.
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Co-author Faiza Khan Niazi writes about pregnancy and parenting.
- Jackson KM, Nazar AM. Breastfeeding, the immune response, and long-term health. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2006 Apr;106(4):203-7. PMID: 16627775
- Eidelman AI, MD, Schanler RJ, MD. Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. Pediatrics. March 2012, 129 (3) e827-e841; doi:10.1542/peds.2011-3552
- Isaacs, E., Fischl, B., Quinn, B. et al. Impact of Breast Milk on Intelligence Quotient, Brain Size, and White Matter Development. Pediatr Res 67, 357–362 (2010). doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e3181d026da
- Anstey EH, PhD, Shoemaker ML, MPH, et al. Breastfeeding and Breast Cancer Risk Reduction: Implications for Black Mothers. Am J Prev Med. 2017 Sep; 53(3 Suppl 1): S40–S46. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2017.04.024
- Erica H. Anstey, PhD, MA, CLC and Ginny Kincaid, MPH. Breastfeeding for Cancer Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2019 Aug 1. cdc.gov
- Mammograms & Breast Cancer Screening Exams. mdanderson.org/prevention-screening/get-screened/breast-cancer-screening.html Retrieved 7 Oct 2021
- What are the benefits of breastfeeding? American Academy of Pediatrics. cdc.gov/breastfeeding/faq/index.htm Retrieved 7 Oct 2021
- Breastfeeding lowers your breast cancer risk. mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/breastfeeding-breast-cancer-prevention.h19-1589046.html Retrieved 7 Oct 2021
- Blocked milk ducts. Sarah Marshall MD. familyphysiciansoflaramie.com/patient-education/healthwise/?DOCHWID=stb117168 Retrieved 7 Oct 2021
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