World Breastfeeding Week is August 1-7, 2016
When I was pregnant with my first son, I was a fiend for breastfeeding stories. I sought out firsthand accounts through Mommy blogs, scrolled through chat rooms, and peppered the Mamas in my life with questions. I made sure to invest in some nipple cream and prepared myself for the very worst- sore nipples, a baby who couldn’t latch, over/undersupply, etc. To be honest, I was kind of dreading it.
So imagine my surprise when breastfeeding was a breeze for me! My son latched on right away, and as one of my L & D nurses comically phrased it, I had “the right equipment.” I had readied myself to be in pain, to possibly bleed, and potentially not have it in me to stick with it and switch to formula. What I never anticipated was how much I loved breastfeeding. I never expected that I would treasure being my son’s sole source of nutrition, or that it was I that could comfort him when on one else could, or how simply magical it felt to stare into his sweet, baby blues as he suckled away and my heart nearly exploded with love.
Those first newborn weeks were filled with love, milk, and spit-up and I truly relished those days. And then with tire screeching sound effects in the background, I returned to work 12 weeks later from maternity leave and our days spent breastfeeding were over. I was thankful that I was returning to an organization that is very supportive of working mothers. I had access to a private lactation room, with a fridge to store my breastmilk, a supervisor who would urge me to GO when I needed to, and an unofficial support group of fellow breastfeeding co-workers who could share in my pumping woes. Despite all of that, it still didn’t change the fact- pumping stinks.
I had access to a private lactation room, with a fridge to store my breastmilk, a supervisor who would urge me to GO when I needed to, and an unofficial support group of fellow breastfeeding co-workers who could share in my pumping woes. Despite all of that, it still didn’t change the fact- pumping stinks.
To go from a sweet-smelling, snuggly infant to an obnoxiously loud and uncomfortable machine was jarring. I was committed to continuing my son’s supply of breastmilk, but there were plenty of times when the inconvenience and hassle of pumping threatened to do me in.
With just a few more weeks until my second son is born, I am planning to breastfeed (and eventually pump) again, but this time, I’m going into the experience more prepared and committed to making it work for my family. Based on what I learned the first time around, here are my three tips for pumping at work:
I was thankful that my health insurance covered the cost of a breast-pump, but one of the most difficult aspects in my pumping experience was that I spent a decent amount of time on the road for my job, and pumping on-the-go can be such a hassle! I found myself pumping in the oddest places (over a sink in the women’s bathroom in a nursing home was one of the most humbling!), and I was not as prepared as I could have been. So this time, I’m skipping the battery pack, remembering the cooler and sanitizing wipes, and investing in a car charger so that I can avoid the looks of utter horror as I attempt to discreetly pump in public.
2. Schedule your pump times on your daily calendar, and stick to them
With constant meetings and interruptions, it can be challenging to stick to a consistent schedule, but it’s so important that you do! I made sure to schedule three half-hour private appointments on my MS Outlook calendar at the same time every day, so that my co-workers would know that was a time I couldn’t be interrupted. I was not as good as I could have been about this, and some days it was impossible to avoid a fluctuation in my pump times. However, I struggled as my son got older with a decrease in my supply because I wasn’t pumping as regularly as I should have been- I will not make that mistake again!
3. Keep up your supply and store extra whenever possible
And speaking of a dwindling supply, the last two months of pumping, I was completely reliant on Fenugreek supplements and Mother’s Milk tea to keep my supply to where I was producing just enough milk, with absolutely none to spare. It’s commonly known that babies are much more effective at getting milk than machines, so this time I plan to pump extra on the evenings, weekends, whenever I can, so that I have a fully-stocked arsenal to draw from if I have a decreasing supply to contend with yet again.
I know every baby is different, and every breastfeeding experience is different, but I’m hopeful that with these three tips tucked into my back pocket, I can proudly say that I’ve managed to breastfeed both my boys for an entire year while balancing a full-time career.