Everyone has a role in supporting breastfeeding at work says new mum

A new mum has spoken of her relief at how supportive colleagues were during her return to work after maternity leave.

Grace Redmond, who works at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital, has spoken ahead of National Breastfeeding Week (27 June – 3 July), where the theme is everyone playing a part in helping mothers to breastfeed.

Grace, who works in the operating theatre, told how her nerves about going back to work were made much easier thanks to her friendly and supportive manager and colleagues.

With their support, the 27-year-old soon established a routine enabling her to take a break when she needed to express and ensure son Freddie continued to benefit from the goodness of his mum’s milk.

She said: “I was really nervous about returning to work. I had Freddie during the COVID-19 pandemic and the limited face-to-face support and isolation had been challenging. We had worked so hard to breastfeed though, and neither Freddie nor I were ready to stop when I returned to work.

“I had only left him a handful of times but just before he turned one, I returned to work full-time.  Thankfully, I’m lucky to have a friendly and helpful manager who kept in touch during my maternity leave.

Upon her return to work, Grace noticed her employers had gone above and beyond to creative a supportive environment, allowing her to feel comfortable in continuing to breastfeed while returning to her role as an operating department practitioner.

“On my first day back, a private lockable room with a comfortable chair had been prepared for me so I instantly felt at ease,” Grace said.

“Everything was done on my terms and I was able to add a table to the room, so it was easier to transfer milk from my pumps to storage bags. I have an extra locker to store all the equipment I need, including snacks to get me through the day as breastfeeding can burn an extra 500 calories a day.

“It took a while to get into a routine as I needed to express at least twice on a 10-hour shift. At first, I had to remind my colleagues about the need to take extra breaks but as time went on, everyone became used to it and I was met with nice, supportive comments.

“As I settled back into work, I began to talk more openly about breastfeeding and led to lots of questions from colleagues.

“Working in a busy healthcare environment with limited breaks while continuing to breastfeed can be challenging but with the right support, it is absolutely possible.”

Alex Murphy, infant feeding lead for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System, said: “Successful breastfeeding requires support, especially when mums return to work. This National Breastfeeding Week, we’re highlighting that everyone has a part to play in helping mums to breastfeed and that includes in the workplace.

“Grace’s experience show how reasonable adjustments to provide comfortable, suitable facilities can have a hugely positive impact on mums who wish to breastfeed when returning to work.”

Grace has shared her top tips on returning to work and breastfeeding in the hope it helps others. You can read them here: https://boobingit.com/ten-tips-for-breastfeeding-and-returning-to-work

More information is available from the NHS Better Health Start for Life campaign  www.nhs.uk/start4life/baby/feeding-your-baby/breastfeeding/

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