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

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Breastfeeding & The Working Mom: No Lies

I'm not going to lie. Breastfeeding is tough work. Working or not. It takes a lot of commitment and determination to make it work. The difficulty is magnified when you are trying to work full-time and breastfeed too. Pumping is no fun!!1

Breastfeeding got off to a rocky start with both my boys because they were severely jaundice and spent about a week under the billirubin lights which interfered with getting started. With my first, it was a constant struggle to try not to have to supplement when he came home. It seemed like he was eating every hour and I was totally exhausted. By week three, I was ready to quit. I felt defeated :(. Thank goodness I had an understanding husband who said it was my call and when I was ready to do what I felt right. I stopped at that point since I knew it would be very hard with my job to continue in a couple weeks when I returned to work. I felt guilty of course because that's what we mothers do best: feel guilty. He was rarely sick and I was happy.

With my second, I was determined to make this work for at least a little while longer. I would breastfeed him and then supplement as needed afterwards for the first 6 weeks. This allowed him to sleep longer and me be happier too. Being very relaxed about it made the whole process much easier. Plus I felt success just making it past the 3 week point I had stopped at with #1.

Going back to work changed that relaxed mode quickly. Although we have a lactation room in our building, there is no discussion with managers about allowing time for pumping. In an effort to try not to seem like I was less of an employee because I was a mother, I constantly felt like I was sneaking around to go and pump, that I was rushed and the phone always seemed to ring just as I was about to go do it or meeting was called for that time of day. I started trying to do it twice a day which quickly dwindled to once at lunch time which just wasn't enough to keep my supply up and I always felt rushed at work. After about 3 weeks of this, I decided to only breastfeed in the mornings and evenings and on the weekends and stop pumping. I felt like this was a tremendous weight lifted off me. I could relax at work again.

Home was still a little stressful trying to breastfeed with a preschooler running around and working on potty training. Never failed everytime we sat down to breastfeed, he'd have to go to the bathroom. Jealousy?? Maybe but we managed. This lasted until my little guy was about 5 months old when he just seemed to lose interest in breastfeeding when he had a bad cold. My supply started to quickly dwindle and I thought ok I'm going to stop. I felt like it was the right time for us. Of course, still felt guilt (I am a mom you know) but it felt like the right decision for me and my son.

Breastfeeding is not simply one size fits all for all mothers and their children. There are a lot of options and everyone needs to find the right fit for themselves and their families. Only you can decide what is right.


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