This is a linked post. Beautifully Imperfect Mama is writing a whole series of posts on breastfeeding-you can check them out at https://beautifullyimperfectmama.wordpress.com. I think it’s really important for moms to get different perspectives on breastfeeding since there are so many experiences. I have had two very different experiences with breastfeeding my sons and I’m sharing them here in this post. Since becoming a mom two and a half years ago I have been a full-time working mom, a stay at home mom, and now I am at work at home mom. I have nursed my sons through all of these situations. If you are planning on nursing my tips might be helpful for you. This is mom to mom advice, I am not a lactation consultant or a doctor. I’m just speaking from my personal experience.
Breastfeeding while working I found to be much more challenging than being a stay at home mom and nursing. However, with that being said, I was successful enough to breast-feed until Ben was a year old and I was already three months pregnant with Adam. So do not despair! You can work and have an excellent breast-feeding relationship with your baby. My biggest challenges were finding a place to pump, having to pump frequently, keeping up my milk supply, and the amount of time I spent pumping. According to the current legislation women are supposed to have a place to pump and be able to pump at their job. I was able to pump at my job, and have some privacy. I recommend if you’re going to go back to work that you speak with one of your supervisors about a time and place to pump. I did via email. I stated the time of day, the length of time I would be unavailable for, and where I would be pumping. I also let the office staff know. Full disclosure, despite all of this communication that I sent out, I did have the occasional time when somebody would disregard the note on the door and allowed themselves in. I used a nursing poncho over the pump just in case of this. I took a cooler with me every single day to put all of my bottles. I hated cleaning all the bottles every single night so if you’re going to be pumping two sessions within just a couple hours of each other you can leave your small bottles of milk covered in your desk and then take them out and finish pumping in to them if they’re only half full. I also recommend having a lot of bottles with covers on them. You’ll need larger bottles the longer you pump. The little tubes that they give you in hospital are not going to suffice when your baby is six months old and nursing. So make sure that you purchased lots of bottles with caps. To keep up my supply I had to pump frequently. I pumped on my lunch breaks, I pumped in the morning when I first got to work before my meetings, and I pumped during my preparatory time. I pumped 3 to 4 times a day at my job site, and I also pumped four times at home. That was my schedule when I was pumping 8 ounce bottles for a seven-month-old. When I returned to work after having Adam, he was my second baby, so I had a stronger supply. My strategy was to pump at work during the times that I would normally be feeding him, that worked for about three weeks. Since I was separated from Adam my supply went down. So I started to pump at home in the morning and on the weekends to increase my supply for the week. What helped me the most with keeping up my supply was:
- Every morning I ate oatmeal with flax seeds for breakfast. Oatmeal and flax seeds are a galactagogue. That means they are proven to increase milk production in nursing moms. Other foods I found helpful for nursing mothers’tea, full fat dairy products, and organic eggs that I purchased from a farm. Unprocessed eggs are much creamier, and richer.
- I drank a gallon of water a day.
- I nursed frequently at home and held my baby a lot when I was home. Being close to your baby increases your milk supply. I recommend safely co sleeping with your baby while you are nursing and working. Safe co sleeping means that the baby has their own enclosed space that they sleep in separate from you but near you. There are sidecar co sleepers (I used one with boys my boys) and co sleepers that go in the bed with you.
- Baby wearing when you’re home. I would wear my children and go for a walk in the evening or as I ran my errands on the weekend I would put them in my Ergo.
- I pumped every opportunity I had. If I woke up in the middle of the night to go get a glass of water I would take 15 minutes and pump. If you’re somebody who wakes up in the night I would recommend keeping a cooler with some ice inside of it so you can pump during the night and put your milk in the cooler and not have to leave your bed.
A working, nursing mom has to be able to multitask. I would answer emails and get all my computer work done while I was pumping. I would have projects laid out on my desk that I would be working on while I was pumping. Pumping does not have to slow down your productivity it will just simply tie you to your desk for 15 to 20 minutes.
Breastfeeding as a stay at home mom was much easier. I was the bottle, I could nurse with Adam anywhere I went, also I had fewer supply issues. As a stay at home mom I never pump. The pump is especially helpful though if you are having supply issues, you can pump after you nurse if you times in the day and increase your milk supply. Also, if dad wants to get involved with feeding the baby, you can pump a bottle or two during the day and have that available to dad. As a second time mom I had no problem to nurse in public. With my older son I would pump and take a bottle with me, take baby food with me, even take formula sometimes. I was shy to nurse in public with him. I learned that you have to practice with your nursing cover right away so your baby gets used to being under a poncho or cover. My first son I did not do this with, he would fight the cover and that left me feeling very shy. I also exclusively breast-fed longer with my second child, up until nine months. My decision to do that was twofold: on one hand we had an excellent nursing relationship and on the other hand I knew we were going to take a month in Israel. I figured the easiest thing would be for me to feed him via nursing rather than lugging around baby food. I cannot say that my decision to stay at home rather than work is a main contributing factor as to the length of time I’m spending nursing each son. I would say that pregnancy was the main factor as to why I weaned Ben when I did. During pregnancy it becomes more uncomfortable to nurse, your milk changes, and I have a tough time in my first trimester so adding in my discomfort nursing him was not helpful. Luckily for me it was a mutual choice to end the nursing relationship when we did.
I mentioned that I use a poncho to cover myself when I am nursing in public. I also recommend if you’re going to nurse for at least a year to have plenty of nursing tops and pajama tops that pull or clip down. Are used these both at work and as a stay at home mom. I could throw a cardigan or blazer over them at work. It makes pumping and nursing so much easier if you have something that is comfortable. Also nursing in public is more easily facilitated and manageable when you were in a nursing top and a cover. My favorite cover is a stretchy nursing poncho because it covers also my back if I do have to lift up my shirt. A swaddling blanket is also a great way to cover yourself.
A piece of advice and another mom gave me is to wean slowly. She weaned one of her sons quickly and the hormones that help with breast-feeding caused her to go into a depression for several months. Now that I’m starting to work part time from home with the intent that I will work more in the following months I am planning in my mind how to cut back with Adam so I don’t have any depression and he will be ready for part time preschool.