Absolutely. It is best if baby can exclusively breastfeed for the first six months but formula feeding and breastfeeding is very possible. Ideally, you will want to have your milk supply established first. If you plan to use formula while you are at work and continue breastfeeding, you should aim for breastfeeding exclusively for at least the first twelve weeks. After twelve weeks, your supply should be well established. You will still want to nurse as frequently as you can when you are with baby and use breastfeeding-friendly bottles with slow flow nipples. The drawback of this approach is that your milk supply will be affected. You will not make as much breast milk as you would if you were not using formula. Baby may get more frustrated at the breast if your milk supply becomes very low so this is something you will want to factor into your decision.
Tips for your transition back to work
- Ask for at least twelve weeks of maternity leave. You may decide to go back to work at six weeks but this way if something happens and you need the time, you have it. Your employer will be pleasantly surprised if you return to work earlier than expected but would probably be frustrated or unprepared if you do not return when expected.
- Find a babysitter close to your work. With a caregiver near your place of work, you can stop by at your lunch break to nurse your baby or if you caregiver needs extra breast milk you can drop off extra milk for her.
- Return to work in the middle of the week. Starting on a Thursday or Friday will make things a little easier on you.
- Work part time if you can. You may want to work part time or see if you can work shorter shifts. If this is something you can afford to do for a while this may help. Working part time and breastfeeding may be easier for you and baby.
- Nurse baby more frequently in the evening. This will help make up for some of the time away from baby. Some babies will completely reverse their feeding schedule (called reverse cycling) so that they can breastfeed from mom instead of taking a bottle.
- Make sure to drink plenty of water while you are at work. Staying hydrated will help you to pump more milk.
- Have a support system. Working and pumping is a lot of work. Talk with other moms who have breastfed and worked or join your local La Leche League for support.