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Working Without Weaning

Get a good breast pump

The right pump can make the difference between success and failure, so don't scrimp. A price of $300 or more may sound like a lot at first, but it's peanuts when you compare it with what you'd spend on formula over time. The main goals here: to pump more milk in less time, and portability between work and home. That means you're best off with a double electric model that lets you pump both breasts at once, yet isn't too heavy. The extra power of these models may also help maintain your milk supply. Look for options like a rechargeable battery pack, a removable motor that you can leave at the office, a carrying case, milk storage containers, and an insulated travel bag. Some women also like to have a super-portable manual pump on hand for when carrying the electric isn't feasible. Other things you'll need: plastic breast-milk storage bags and breast pads to contain leaks until you can get to your pump. Think about what you'll wear to work, too. Button-front blouses and zippered sweaters, for instance, will make it easier to pump without disrobing too much.

Practice at home Two to three weeks before you're due back at work, get out your breast pump, read the instructions, and learn to use it. The first time you try pumping, you may get very little milk. Mornings at home are a good time to practice pumping (your breasts produce and store the most milk overnight), so try pumping in between your baby's first and second feedings of the day. Freeze the milk you pump to give to your baby when you return to work. It's a good idea to have a few bottles in the bank.

Scout out your options Find a private place to pump at work. Ideally, a pumping room has an electrical outlet, a sink, a comfortable chair, and a table. Other options are an office or a conference room with a locking door. If pumping at work isn't a common practice at your job, talk to your supervisor about your needs. Remind her that breastfeeding is good business: Breastfed babies get sick less often, so their mothers miss less work. A confident, cooperative approach works best in discussions about where and when you'll pump. Some states (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Texas) have laws that require employers to accommodate nursing mothers.