Our goal is to provide information, ideas and support for working women who are also full-time mothers.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Being a working mom and breastfeeding

Some days I wonder why I've done this to myself. I guess I knew in my heart that if I was a stay-at-home mom, I would've tried to breastfeed my kids for at least a year. And I never wanted them to lose anything because I'm working.

I hadn't made up my mind to do this when my first child was born. I was still trying to figure the whole motherhood thing out. In the back of my mind, I thought I'd at least breastfeed for the first three months and then do my best to breastfeed in the mornings and evenings, while instructing daycare to give the baby formula during the day. But a month into my maternity leave, I realized this was something important, something that came easily to me, and something I should continue for my baby. So the research began. I spent A LOT of money on a high-quality pump and I swallowed my pride and talked to my boss about giving me a place at work to pump. I'm lucky because not only do I have an understanding employer, but I live in a state which legally requires employers to give moms the time and place to pump if they want it. So there was one hurdle overcome.

I struggled with my supply, as many pumping moms do. For the first six months, I set my alarm for 2 a.m. so I could get up in the middle of the night to pump and have enough milk to send with the baby during the day. I also pumped twice times during the work day, in the morning and at lunch. I would breastfeed right before we left in the morning, right after I picked the baby up in the afternoon (I was only working 7-hour days). I HATED pumping. But somehow I did it. On her first birthday, I packed that pump up!! I continued breastfeeding in the mornings and evenings for another month or so, until my supply was gone.

Now I am breastfeeding my second child. I think it's harder this time and I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because I'm also caring for a preschooler and am more exhausted. Perhaps it's because this childbirth was a c-section and seemed to get me off to a rocky breastfeeding start. Perhaps it's because this baby didn't sleep through the night until 8 months old so I was unable to do the 2 a.m. pumping session. But I have struggled with my supply throughout the months. I pump twice during the day and once before bed. I've been on a near-constant regimen of fenugreek and feel like I'm permanently cursed to smell like maple syrup. Yet this time, the baby still requires 1-2 bottles of formula a day. And that makes me feel like I'm somehow failing, which I know is ridiculous. But I'm doing the best I can.

Being a breastfeeding and working mom has been so tough, but there have been many rewards. Both my children have had minimal illnesses their first year. I've gotten to enjoy that special breastfeeding bond. I've saved money on formula. I guess I'll never know if it was the "best" thing to do or if I only kept up with it because I'm so stubborn! But either way, I somehow made it work. I applaud all moms who give it a try!


  • At 9:33 AM, Anonymous Megan said…

    I SOOO feel you. I am currently pumping for my third child (I did it for my first for 12 months, my second only 10 (she no longer was intersted in bfing, so my supply went to nil) and my little guy is only 4 months..so I have a ways to go. But man, will I be SOOO happy to give up that pump. Pumping sucks. I hate lugging the pump when I am out at meetings (I have to pump 3x during the day to even have a shot at keeping up). I hate having to schedule my work day around times to pump. But for some reason it is important to me and I will continue to do it as long as I can. Another pumping mom told me that she realized she does it because "its the one thing a stay-at-home mom can't do better than me." I don't think that's it for me. I don't feel guilty about not being a stay-at-home mom. But for some reason it is important to me to keep doing it. Good for you! Mom power!


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