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Getting Past Breastfeeding Barriers

How can women more easily continue breastfeeding after they go back to work?

Get yourself a good electric pump -- preferably one not made by any formula company, which is likely to be poorly made, Garrison says. "A good electric pump allows you to pump both breasts at one time; you can be done in 10-15 minutes," she tells WebMD.

Work with your employer to negotiate a schedule and set up a private area to pump. Volunteer to take shorter lunch breaks in exchange for two extra 15-minute breaks during the day. Or stay half an hour later.

If there's no private spot available, use your imagination. According to Garrison, women have shown great creativity in finding quiet spaces: a copy room, an infrequently used conference area, the school nurse or guidance counselor's office.

It takes practice to become comfortable breastfeeding in public, Garrison says. "It definitely takes practice to learn which of your clothing is the most discreet. I took a light crocheted blanket so there were a lot more openings for air," she says. "And I could flip that over my shoulder so nobody really knew what was going on.

If there's no solution with your employer, eliminate the feedings for the hours you will not be available to nurse the baby, McCoy advises. "It's amazing how resilient the mom's body is in adjusting to that. If it needs milk at 6 p.m., it will make milk at 6 p.m. It takes just a few weeks for the mom's body to adjust," she says. "But if they start that process a few weeks before they go back to work, their bodies will adapt -- and so will their babies, in most cases."

So babies don't mind getting a bottle one time, a breast the next?

"Many babies will adjust easily to going back and forth from breast to bottle," McCoy tells WebMD. "Many lactation consultants believe that there's an issue of nipple confusion, but I think many babies will adapt very easily as long as it's more often breast rather than bottle. The other thing I find helpful is for someone other than mom to give the bottle. ... There are many babies who won't take a bottle from mom at all, if they're breastfed, but they will take it just fine from dad or grandmother."

Also, some bottles are designed to be more similar to a natural nipple, McCoy tells WebMD. "They've been very helpful with babies who are lazy in sucking at the breast," she says. "It actually helps to train them with those because they have to do that deeper draw rather than a chewing motion." Ask your doctor or lactation consultant which brands of bottles are best.

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