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bf>6mo + working: why and how? got rather long

(23 Posts)
SoftFroggie Mon 19-May-03 20:22:21

Having lurked a little, this is my first post .. so please be nice despite the length! The plan while pregnant was to bf for 4 mo, give up with a big pat on the back for making it that far, and go back to work at 6.5mo. DS is now 6 mo, I'm about to go back to work, but I have't stopped breastfeeding (whoops - plan gone wrong) as I love it. New plan is to swop to formula bottles for daytime feeds, but try bf morning and night. I now have lots of questions ...

1: I work with organic and metal chemicals some of the time. I think (am I right?) that I am entitled to a risk assessment of work while breastfeeding - which I guess would say 'we have no idea what the risks are so stay away from the chemicals', thus stopping me doing part of my job. I'm quite happy about this, but they'll want to know WHY I'm still feeding (chatty, friendly company, tend to ask everything). The reason is just cos I want to, but that sounds a little selfish ... so I could do with some better reasons ...

2: If they don't stop me working with the chemicals, I'm not sure how happy I am continuing to breastfeed. Any comments?

and, more mundanely,
3: how easy is it to continue feeding once or twice a day? (HV says I won't be able to feed once a day as my milk will dry up, but some HVs do say all sorts of things).

PS have put off posting this for ages cos I couldn't think of a nickname, still didn't manage a clever one.
PPS I am so undomesticated that it never occured to me to taste grapes in the supermarket for sweetness.

musica Mon 19-May-03 20:55:42

Could you express milk rather than go over to bottles? It might also help keep your supply going. I would say, if you're enjoying it, keep going! It doesn't last forever, and baby will be enjoying it too. It's not selfish either, it's natural. Don't know about risks of chemicals I'm afraid.

WideWebWitch Mon 19-May-03 20:57:17

Hi softfroggie and welcome. I can't answer all your questions but I'll have a go.

1. The HSE page about the rights of breastfeeding mothers is here . I don't think you're selfish for continuing to breastfeed and 'because I want to' sounds like a fine reason to me! You don't have to give them a reason at all of course but I don't think you need to say any more than that.
2. They have to I'd say, unless they can prove it's safe. I'm sure that HSE page tells you more.
3. Sorry, don't know but I'm sure someone here will do.
PS Your name is fine and PPS if you are going to taste grapes do it at Tesco (see other thread)

whellid Mon 19-May-03 20:58:27

Hi Softfroggie. Not sure how much help I can be, but I'm sure that your work will have COSHH assessments on all the chemicals that you use. Saying that, they are usually put together using the MSDS sheets that come with the chemicals, and I don't think I have seen any that include anything about breast feeding. I'm not sure that any of the chemicals would be more dangerous while bf as they would have warnings against ingesting / spilling on skin etc as routine. Do you have a safety officer type person who you could have a quiet word with and who can start looking into it for you.
I really don't think that you should have to justify breast feeding. If you and your ds are happy then that is reason enough IMO, and you should continue for as long as you want. Have you thought about expressing for the daytime bottle? This would keep your supply going, although I dropped to a morning and evening feed at about 6 months and had no trouble with my supply. Then at 8 months I went to just one feed, and again the supply was still there when needed.
A long reply to a long question! and you nickname is fine - I'm still hoping to think of a better one so I can change mine!

SueW Mon 19-May-03 21:10:16

1. If they are chatty and friendly and you feel comfortable with what you are doing then I'm sure you'll find a way to tell them

2. Don't know anything about chemicals, sorry.

3. I have a few friends who have continued to breastfeed after returning to work. One would feed her son morning and evening only (I think she did this with her second too) and during the day he wouldn't take anything to drink except water but he did eat yoghurts, etc at nursery.

Well done and good luck

mears Mon 19-May-03 21:29:34

You are entitled to rest periods and time for expressing at work as well, Softfroggie.
It is not as difficult as you might think. It would make sure that your milk supply didn't diminish. There are a few threads about expressing and working if you type is into the search box. Are you going back full-time or part-time? Even if it is full time you can continue to feed your baby as you do now on your days off.
Don't know about the risks regarding working with chemicals - wickedwaterwitches link is great. Maybe you will need to be suspended with full pay whilst still breastfeeding if there is a risk and no alternative. Wouldn't that be good

mears Mon 19-May-03 21:30:27

By the way, forgot to say you do not need to justify yourself to your employers at all.

WedgiesMum Mon 19-May-03 21:32:18

Hiya SoftFroggie HTH (Just as background I have bf both mine and returned succesfully to work whilst still feeding):

1. As others have said it's not selfish at all. Babies need at least 1 pint of milk a day until after they are a year old - breast or formula, and breast is the cheapest and easiest option. You are perfectly entitled to do this, continue for as long as you are comfortable with it and as long as it fits in your schedule.

2. If the chemicals are toxic they cannot make you work with them as far as I know.

3. Ohmigod what a load of rubbish is all I can say!! I returned to work when both mine were around 4 months old and started off expressing for them to have during the day, but once they got old enough to cut down to just morning and evening feeds did that and they had an occasional bottle in between if they needed more milk on any day (not that DD liked it that much anyway). I fed DS until he was 18 months old and DD until she was 20 months old and with both for the last six months it was 2 feeds a day for 3 months and then 1 feed a day for 3 months. And I *KNOW* there was milk there (leaking, squirting, let down in the bath, children dribbling need I go on?) and plenty of it too. I realise that for some women this may not happen, but most people I know who dropped to one or two feeds found they had milk. Your baby will soon tell you if there is nothing there.

I found that going back to work and feeding was a lovely experience, it was nice and snuggly at both ends of the day - OK so it means you get up a bit earlier, but I found it helped me feel that I'd done my best for my babies before I sent them to Nursery.

Gosh, I could go on for hours about this...as I said above HTH.

Pimpernel Mon 19-May-03 21:43:49

Hi SoftFroggie,
dd is 6mo, and I'm back to work soon too. I'm planning to express during the day, and my employers have done a health and safety assessment for me. If you put in writing that you are going to continue breastfeeding, then I think your employers have to do a risk assessment.

I found the Maternity Alliance booklet "Having it all; a woman's guide to combining breastfeeding and work" very helpful (available via their website ), and I also had some good advice from their helpline. Now I've just got to make it work in practice...

SoftFroggie Tue 20-May-03 09:41:42

Hi everyone, and thanks.

I've now read previous threads, the excellent HSE page (thanks for the link) and sent off for the Maternity Alliance booklet (which I didn't send off for when pregnant as I never intended to be in this situation). Am now happy that feeding one or two times a day is perfectly possible, and that I am due a risk assessment, which should keep me away from the chemicals. Sadly, there is other work I can do, so won't be suspended on full pay that would be an incentive for extensive breasfeeding. I think the cost is a reason they would understand - thanks for reminding me WedgiesMum that breastmilk is cheaper (free)! Bf two feeds a day will half the spend on formula. Leaving more money for wine

I don't fancy expressing at work as the logistics of having ds / his spare clothes / his full bottles / me / my spare shirt / his car seat all in the right place is hard enough without adding empty bottles for me to fill. I would have tried if he were younger. So hats off and good luck to you, Pimpernel. Anyway, there is nowhere at work they could give me to express. I recently was away for a day and expressed using my noisy electric breastpump in a loo cubicle, and got some odd looks when I came out - what *did* they think I was doing in there? I don't know why I was less happy to express in public than I am to bf in public.

Thanks again, just need to write to work now.

motherinferior Wed 21-May-03 08:28:57

Just wanted to add - I too breastfed morning and night for months, absolutely fine, masses of milk. Good luck.

KeepingMum Wed 21-May-03 09:14:44

I'm probably repeating everything already written here, but go for it. I went back to work at 6 months but carried on brestfeeding until ds was 13 months. I always did the morning and a couple of evening feeds, I expressed a feed at work (should have done two but found it quite time consuming) and fed all day on my days off and weekends. The supply seemed to cope with this mucking around, I did sometimes feel really full at the end of the day and plugged ds on as soon as I picked him up from the childminder.
Definitely get another risk assessment done. Mine classifies 'Pregnant Workers' as someone who is either 'pregnant, someone who has given birth in the last 6 months (including still birth) or is breastfeeding'.
Good luck with it

eefs Wed 21-May-03 09:15:15

I fed ds at night for 4 months after I had returned to work, it was no problem and I really enjoyed the time with him.
As another reason (not that you need to give one, but I understand it's hard to be vague sometimes), you could say there are perhaps family allergies that you are trying to avoid by continuing BF.

Philippat Wed 21-May-03 09:33:17

softfroggie, I understand you may not want to rock the boat but your employer is actually legally required to give you a private place if you want to express at work (and not the toilet).

I hope you end up with it all working the way you want to. I had to not do cetain parts of my job when I returned and was still breastfeeding which was pretty annoying, although I understood the theory, I felt I was perfectly capable of lifting heavy weights!

aloha Wed 21-May-03 09:48:05

I also breastfed morning and night for the three days I was in the office - before I started working at home. I also expressed (in the loo!) using avent bags so no sterilising and the silent Avent pump. But can also see why you might not want to do this. I fed as normal on days off and at weekends, which I think really helped with supply. I think in most/many women supply is very, very flexible and after four months of exclusive breastfeeding will adapt to your baby's needs. I also very, very strongly doubt they will ask WHY you are breastfeeding. In fact, I'd bet you £10 they won't. If you work with chemicals etc I suspect you work with a lot of men, and all the men I've ever worked with blushed bright red at the mere mention of pregnancy, let alone breastfeeding!! And this was in the 'touchy-feely' world of magazines. I would consider 'why' a very strange, overly intimate and inappropriate question so I doubt they will ask, and frankly, it's none of their business.

bells2 Wed 21-May-03 10:22:29

In the past I have used a combination of meeting rooms and the first aid room for expressing. I am still feeding my 18 month old DD morning and evening (no longer expressing) without any difficulties at all.

SoftFroggie Thu 22-May-03 10:22:42

Thanks again. I'm going back 4 day weeks, and will be away from him for 10 hrs per day including travel.

I'm going to go with mixed feeding - all the rooms at work are shared offices, so I can't think what they could do to give me an expressing room, and the toilets are the individual ones, so that would mean expressing while sitting on the loo next to the sanitary towel bin etc, which I isn't where I want to make my ds's feed. Plus, I'd have to use my lunchbreak, and I'm really looking forward to getting other stuff done then. And I'm not going to feel bad about it, as I have totally bf for 2 months longer than I was aiming at, so am v. proud of that, and am aiming to continue for half his feeds.

Gave him his first bottle of formula yesterday - which I hated, though he loved (here I am making all this wonderful breastmilk for him, and he guzzles down the fake stuff ). I've now got exploding breasts.

If there's a next baby, I'll be able to take the new longer leave period - but for now, the 29 weeks are up.

SoftFroggie Fri 06-Jun-03 17:04:19

thanks for the support - back for a week, and it's going well. I eventually tracked down the guy responsible for risk assessments, and told him what I wanted covered, so that was straightforward.

So far the only person who asked why is the young receptionist, who then also wanted to know why anyone breastfed at all ever, and whether it hurt. So I don't think that counts and your £10 is safe, Aloha. I was so enthusiastic in my response that she said she might give it a go when she has babies (in 10 years time).

How's the expressing going Pimpernel?

Thanks, SF

Pimpernel Fri 06-Jun-03 18:03:46

Hi SoftFroggie,
Glad to hear it's going well for you. I've got another week to go before I go back, so I haven't started the expressing yet - everything is set up ready though. Must admit I'm a bit nervous about the prospect of going back (bit worried that I might give my colleagues a running commentary in a sing-songy voice on what I'm doing ) so it's good to hear stories of successful returns.

beetroot Fri 06-Jun-03 18:12:08

Message withdrawn

SoftFroggie Fri 20-Jun-03 11:20:01

OK - so it was going well, with ds happily drinking from bottles in the day and me morning and night - but then he got ill and stopped drinking from bottles or eating much, and now he's a bit better, and eating OK, but still not drinking from bottles. He'll happily drink - oh, about 2 floz at a time, then refuse the rest. He's being offered 2 bottles a day, and I don't know whether I should be worried or not. He seems well and happy. It just doesn't seem quite enough. Any comments?

Hmm - as this is mainly about formula milk maybe I should go over to another forum?

Thanks - SF

whellid Fri 20-Jun-03 11:24:41

SoftFroggie, it may just take him some time to readjust - you don't say how long it's been. In the meantime if you make sure that he has food that has milk in - cheese sauces etc then it shouldn't be a problem.

aloha Fri 20-Jun-03 11:39:41

HI SF, at the same age, my ds often drank as little as yours when I was at work, and he was fine. Now he's 21 months and guzzles milk from a cup and I have to ration it. I really don't think you have to worry. Good news about my £10!

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