1-7 August 2023
This is my quote, and also the slogan of my Practice:
‘Every child is a different kind of flower, and altogether makes the world a beautiful garden’
Meet Lisa Ras, a qualified Speech-Language Therapist and South African Certified Lactation Consultant. She has a special interest in infant and childhood feeding, as well as Paediatric Language, Literacy and Communication difficulties. She qualified as a Speech Therapist from the University of Pretoria in 2013, and started her own Private Practice in 2017 while continuing working in a Government Hospital. In 2018, she entered her Private Practice full time and has since focused on providing services at Pre-primary and Primary schools in the East of Pretoria on weekday mornings and providing breastfeeding and lactation support to mothers in the afternoons.
Lisa has been happily married for 10 years, and a mother of 2 young boys, with a third little one on the way. She enjoys spending time with them outdoors over weekends and holidays.
Breastfeeding is defined as “the practice of feeding an infant/young child breastmilk directly from the breast.” This, in many cases, is something new mothers spend a lot of time thinking about after finding out they are expecting a little one. Thoughts about breastfeeding your baby can often lead to many other questions and information seeking, which can lead to either excitement or concerns as you approach the birth of your little one. But what happens when you go back to work?
When can I start pumping or stocking up on milk for my baby for when I go back to work?
Usually it is not recommended to start pumping breastmilk for later use before 6 weeks post-partum. Lactation consultants generally want to encourage mothers to breastfeed on demand for the first 6 weeks to help establish your milk supply based on your baby’s needs. Once your supply is established at 6 weeks, you can start adding in ‘pump sessions’ to stock up on feeds in the freezer and ‘build your stash’ for when you return to work and your little one starts spending time away from you.
Before you head back to work:
- Breastfeed as much as you can to set yourself up with a good milk supply. Counting the number of times you breastfeed every day will give you an idea of your magic number (or goal number), as keeping this daily number consistent will help you keep your milk production steady while pumping at work.
- Choose a breast pump that fits your needs. A double electric breast pump can definitely make pumping go faster if you’re planning to pump during shorter breaks, perhaps a few times a day, many times a week. A manual pump can work well for mothers who have longer breaks and only plan to pump a few times per week. It is always safer to buy a new pump when possible, as pumps are generally classified as ‘personal use items’ and not ideal for sharing.
- Try bottle feeding before you need to rely on it, and this can usually be done from between 4-6 weeks with pumped milk, or milk caught up in a milk collector. You might have to leave the room and have someone else try bottle feeding your little one to help the process go smoothly. This is mainly because your baby naturally associates you with breastfeeding and might not want to take a bottle given by you.
- Practise pumping once or twice a day before returning to work. Start pumping once or twice per day around 3-4 weeks before returning to work.
- Try not to miss a breastfeeding / pumping session so that your body does not think you are trying to wean and naturally begin to produce less milk.
- Continue to eat healthy snacks and drink plenty of water or other healthy fluids throughout the day.
Ensure you have a great experience at work
- Breastfeed before you go to work and again as soon as possible once you are back home with your baby. Continue breastfeeding when you are with your baby, as this will help keep up your milk supply. On average, returning to work can mean being away from your baby for 8 – 12 hours and you can expect your baby to need between 290 – 440 ml of milk during this time. It makes up for around a third of your little one’s daily intake. At around 5 weeks of age, many babies take a total of between 700 – 1100 ml of milk in 24 hours, regardless of whether this is directly at the breast or pumped milk, and this amount usually stabilises around the age of 6 months. This is usually when your baby starts taking more solids and the daily milk intake may start to go down.
- Pick your spot and ensure you have the needed comfort and privacy to relax during your pumping session at work. Ask if your workplace has a lactation room, or ask for permission to use a private office, empty conference room, storage room or lounge with an electrical outlet to charge your pump if needed.
- Put a plan in place by scheduling pumping breaks to allow about 20 relaxed minutes for pumping and then cleaning parts of the pump that need cleaning after pumping. To figure out how many times to pump at work, divide the number of hours you are away from your little one by three. Be sure to include travel time. By the time you return to work, you will be familiar with the sensation of fullness in your breasts and when your body signals you that it is time to pump. Start off by washing your hands and gently massaging your breasts before and during pumping. If you have the time, you can do hand expression after pumping to help drain your breasts better and increase milk supply. Sometimes it helps to keep a picture of your baby ready for pumping sessions, or even a video clip, to look at when pumping to help your milk start to flow.
- Breast milk storage at work can be tricky, so ensure you know what to expect. Generally, breast milk is stored at 19-22°C and can stay uncooled for 6-10 hours. The warmer the room is, the less time your milk can stay uncooled. If you need to cool your breast milk, use an insulated pump cooler, cooler bag or refrigerator.
Did you know the South African Law protects pregnant women and breastfeeding in the workplace?
The South African Code of Good Practice on the Protection of Employees during Pregnancy and after the Birth of a Child which forms part of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (No. 75 of 1997 as amended), stipulates that arrangements should be made for employees who are breastfeeding to have breaks of 30 minutes twice per day for breastfeeding or milk expression each working day for the first six months of the child’s life. The link to this document can be found on the Department of Labour website.
To find a Lactation Consultant in your area, please visit: