This excerpt is taken from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, and addresses going back to work after your baby arrives.
The length of time a mother is able to spend at home with her baby before returning to
work is an important factor in assuring success at breastfeeding. Also, a mother and baby have a great need to be together in the early months. Once you hold your baby in your arms you'll probably decide you want to delay returning to your job ofr as long as you can so you and your baby can enjoy this precious time together.
Bargain for as long a maternity leave as you can possibly manage. If at all possible, arrange to be home at least six to eight weeks after your baby is born. One study found that women who returned to work before their babies were two months old had more breastfeeding problems and weaned earlier than women who returned to work later. Three months at home with your baby is better yet. If you can stretch the time to six months, you will probably have seen him to the time when he begins to take other foods. The longer you can stay home with your baby, the longer both of you will enjoy the benefits of being together.
Stretching your maternity leave may mean using vacation time or accumulated sick or personal leave. Sometimes this leave will be paid, other times it will be an unpaid leave with an understanding that your job will only be held for a certain number of weeks or months. Some companies are willing to add an unpaid leave of six months or so onto a standard maternity leave. Policies are changing as more and more people, both men and women, request provisions for extended leaves for a variety of reasons. It is worth your while to look into the company's past treatment of employees who have received personal time off for whatever reasons.
Mothers and babies need time to be together in the early days and weeks. This is a special season in the life of a child, a time when mother and baby establish a relationship meant to last a lifetime. Whatever your plans for the future months, take time now to nurture this new being.
In The Baby Book, Dr William Sears discusses the importance of making the most of your maternity leave: Don't dwell upon the day you will return to work, lest the preoccupation rob you of those precious weeks of connecting with your baby. During the weeks or months at home with baby, let your baby develop your nurturing skills. Enjoy the time spent with your baby as you let mutual giving bring out the best in both of you.
There is not a La Leche League meeting this month or next month, but we will be holding a Breastfeeding Support Group meeting this Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Educated Mommy. If you are expecting, have a new nursling, or have been nursing for quite some time, come on down and join us, and get and give support - we're all here to help!