A Working Mom Shares Her Experience
As a new working mom there are so many things that have seemed daunting to me. Not the least of which is how I, a woman in a male dominated industry, is going to continue to breastfeed our son after returning to work. I had so many fears about losing my milk, pumping at work and my son not wanting a bottle or preferring a bottle to me.
So, as any good planner would do I decided to take charge of my fears. I purchased a pump and started letting my husband bottle feed my son at least one feeding a day to get him used to the bottle. Next, I did some research on how working moms can successfully pump. Little tips like watching a video of my son (or looking at a picture) while I pump were so helpful. Just seeing my son made my milk drop and pumping was so much easier. There is a wealth of good (and bad) information on the web about breastfeeding and I read most of it.
No amount of research or at home preparation prepared me for that moment when I was going to have to pick up my pump and explain to my all male coworkers (we sit in a small operations center) that I would be indisposed for around 20 minutes. In order to smooth it over when I first came back to work I explained to the three guys on my team that I was breastfeeding and would need to pump 2x a day but for roughly 20 to 30 minutes each time. Now, I know legally I could still take a lunch break, but I choose not to so my team doesn’t feel like I am taking advantage of the situation. Now 2x a day I just grab my pump and excuse myself and it isn’t a big deal.
Another concern many new moms (including me) have is if they are going to “lose their milk”. This can be a very real concern for many working moms, so I take measures to ensure this doesn’t happen. My doctor told me stimulation and pumping are the keys to success. In order to keep producing milk, you have to stimulate production by removing milk just as if you were feeding your baby. As an added stressor you also have to make sure you can pump enough to cover the time you’re at work. So, at work I always make sure to pump at least twice; if I will be gone longer I try to do a third pumping as the ideal is to pump as often as you would feed the baby to ensure you continue to produce enough milk. My doctor also pointed out that a pump will never get as much milk as a baby can get out so in the mornings before I feed my son I pump 1 to 2 ounces out of each breast to put towards his bottles for the day (or freeze for later). Then he eats and always seems to get enough. If you are going to try this method I suggest just start with half an ounce out of each and move up from there as you determine if your baby is able to get full at the feeding that follows the pumping.
There is no end to the amount of fears that can pop up in a mommy’s stressed out mind about breastfeeding, the best method is to stay positive and realistic. No matter how many mommies you meet who have a stock pile of frozen milk for Armageddon that doesn’t mean that will be you, or that you are a failure if you don’t have a stockpile. The reality is that is harder for working moms than stay at home moms to pump “extra milk”. Our concern is to feed our children the natural wonderful food nature provides the best way we can. If that means some supplementation that doesn’t mean failure either, we all produce milk differently and I commend everyone who attempts to breastfeed their children. I have been back at work for about 4 months now and I am still successfully breastfeeding our little guy.
Hope Bresch-Stills PMP