Disclaimer: I’m talking about breastfeeding below…if you’re my brother or my dad or anyone else who doesn’t want to hear about my boobs, just continue on your merry way. There’s lots of other non boobie related posts on here for your enjoyment. Haha…
Okay, with that out of the way lets get down to business. Breastfeeding and the working mom.
With Noah, as you all know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, I wasn’t able to breastfeed. It just never really worked. This time however, it’s been much easier. Perhaps it’s because I’m more relaxed, perhaps it’s because I weigh more, perhaps it’s just because my body decided to cooperate. Whatever it was it’s working this time which meant I needed to figure out how to include pumping into my work schedule since I was only home for 8 weeks.
I’m fortunate to work in an office that is very supportive of new breastfeeding moms and had designated rooms that we can schedule so that we have a comfortable private space. Each floor has a kitchen/fridge and the privacy room is just outside of one of the kitchens so you can walk straight from the room to the kitchen to clean up your parts if you want.
So, in preparation for going back to work I made sure I banked a bunch of milk in the freezer just in case. I also introduced a bottle of expressed milk on a few occasions when she was like a month old just to make sure she’d take a bottle (because she hated pacifiers I was really worried). There was no need to worry, as long as she was getting fed she was fine – bottle or boob.
The week that DH was home with her was our trial week. Mainly to see if I could pump enough to feed her while she’s a daycare plus to see if she’ll take the bottle consistently. I ended up with 9am, 1pm, and then 4pm on the privacy room schedule which was a bit of a shift from what I was doing at home but since I was double pumping it all evened out over time.
I know I have some working moms or moms to be that will be working that could benefit from my experiences so here’s a bullet list of high points:
1. Have multiple pump parts and bottles – generally enough for two days. That way if you’re exhausted when you get home (which most new moms are) you don’t have to worry about washing and sterilizing things right away.
2. Stash extra parts in your bag (membranes, flanges, milk bags in case you forget your bottle caps:)). It really sucks when something breaks and you’re at work with no way to relieve the pressure without the pump. I’ve ended up taking an emergency trip to Target once or twice to fix things (or BRU when my pump completely died)
3. Hands free bra is key. Since I’m double pumping I picked up a Medela bra so that I can do work on my laptop while pumping. So funny to arrange it all but it works:) I can be avail to my team from the comfort of my privacy room. Telecons are a little challenging but we’ve made it work.
4. Drink Drink Drink. It’s easy to forget to drink throughout the day and I’ve found it really important to make sure my h20 intake is on par. If I forget and let myself dehydrate a bit then my production slows.
5. Eat Eat Eat. You’re consuming calories in order to make the milk so you need to make sure you make that up. I saw an estimate of 500 calories a day for a full time nursing mom. So I was tracking calories to make sure I was getting that in addition to what my body needed to function normally (My Fitness Pal is awesome for that!). On days I didn’t eat enough not only would my production suffer but I’d be dragging and out of energy. Lots of protein and complex carbs to keep you going!
6. Between pumping sessions I don’t wash my parts. I just wipe them down and put them in my cooler bag (which gets stuck in the fridge). Since they’re in the fridge they’re good for the day. It saves sooo much time.
7. Pack your pump bag the night before (although, this has backfired for me once or twice and I forgot caps once and forgot a flange another time).
8. Wear pump/nurse friendly clothes. Sucks to sit there topless or mostly naked because you wore a dress that didn’t pull down at the top. I wear pants mostly these days with nursing tanks or bras under my shirt. I have one dress that zips up the front that works to nurse/pump too.
9. On Friday, immediately freeze your milk and then on monday, cycle out some of your frozen milk so that what you have in your stash gets rotated. As it stands now she gets mostly frozen on Monday only and all my Friday/weekend milk goes into the freezer.
10. Because I need a #10 – relax:)
It’s also good to know that U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act now requires employers to provide break time (unpaid unless you work while you pump like I do) and a private spot for moms to express their milk, other than a restroom, where co-workers can’t observe or intrude. (Some exemptions apply for businesses that employ fewer than 50 people.) So, if you find yourself pumping in a bathroom or your car and you’re over 50 employees it would be worth it to talk with your HR folks and point that out. Even if you’re under 50 employees it would be worth it to talk to them to see if there’s anything you can do. In the past I’ve given up my office (when i had an office:) ) so that a co-worker could pump in peace.
Anyways, I’ve been back to work for 5 months and I’m still pumping! I did drop my 1:00 session last week in preparation for weaning her but I’m taking my sweet old time. I figure I’ll drop another next month and the final one during her 9th month. While I don’t love pumping, I love that I’m still providing for her. My first goal was 1 month and my ultimate goal was 6 months. We’re at 7 months and while she’s not exclusively breastfed any longer (we introed formula when I dropped that pumping session) she’s still getting a majority of her nutrition from me. Now I’m shooting to get her to 1 year with at least some breast milk in her diet.