How I made it a full year breastfeeding as a working mom
Being a mom sure isn’t easy is it? Whether you work full time, part time or stay home it is probably the hardest job in the world! My husband and I put a lot of thought into the best scenario for us after my daughter was born. I never could have imagined how difficult going back to work would be. Returning to work at this time in our lives was the best decision for our family. We are so lucky that our daughter is in excellent hands during the day, it’s a huge weight lifted off our shoulders. Even though I was returning to work, it was so important to me to be able to breastfeed my baby. Of course this meant that I would be pretty much exclusively pumping, but I was ok with that. Breastfeeding itself is like a full time job and at times I found it to be just a little stressful while trying to juggle all other aspects of my life. The hardest part was that I never had a freezer stash to rely on in case of emergency. My body made just enough to meet my baby’s needs however no matter how hard I tried ( and trust me I tried everything), I was just not able to create a stash. However I was so determined to breastfeed that I stuck to such a strict schedule and made pumping work for me.
Originally my goal was to breastfeed 3-6 months, but I made it a full year! It sure wasn’t easy and to be honest there were many days where I just wanted to give up. I felt like I had a full blown relationship with my breast pump and I’m not going to lie about the fact that I’m a just a little excited to end it. As my baby is about to turn one, it truly is bittersweet as I end my breastfeeding journey. Over the past month my daughter actually started to self wean as she’s eating so much more and my supply started to dip. I’m truly happy that I made it a full year because it was so beneficial to both baby and me! I decided to put together this post to share my tips and tricks as to how I made it a full year breastfeeding while working full time. I hope this post can be helpful to any mom that wants to breastfeed while returning to work. It sure is challenging and time consuming but it is worth it! This post may contain affiliate links however all opinions are my own! I only promote products I love and could not have lived without!
Top tips to help you succeed at being a full time working breastfeeding mom!
- Know your rights and talk to your employer. Something I did not know before having my daughter was that it is actually the law to be allowed time to pump at work! I was able to work out a pumping schedule that allowed me to stay on track with my breastfeeding goals. Sticking to a schedule is essential for being able to keep your supply up while you are away from your baby!
- Invest in a good quality breast pump. I cannot stress this one enough! If you are going to be pumping for most of your breastfeeding journey, you want to have a good quality pump. I started out with a basic hospital grade pump given to me by my insurance company. Since Piper was my first baby, I had no idea what I was doing. I really didn’t have much success with this pump and quickly switched to the Medela advanced on the go breast pump . This pump worked so well for me and trust me it was worth a little extra money. I love how it comes in a tote that looks like a purse so I could take it to meetings, restaurants, airports you name it without being so obvious.
- 3. Get yourself on a schedule and stick with it, especially if you do not have a freezer stash. Personally, this was the hardest part about breastfeeding for me. I wish I had started pumping right away after I had my daughter to build more of a freezer stash. Again, this was all so new to me and I was so focused on just “surviving” to be honest. I was able to build a small stash which helped on that very first week I returned to work. After that, my body literally made just enough to meet my baby’s needs and that was it. What this meant is that I could never miss a pumping session. Sometimes this was just so stressful, and I had to really be disciplined in sticking to a schedule. I eventually got myself into a good routine where I would nurse my daughter early in the morning and pump before work. I would then pump twice at work, nurse in the evening then pump before bed. Looking back, it was downright exhausting, however it was so important to me to breastfeed my baby. There were so many nights where I just wanted to go to bed but I knew that I had to pump so my baby would have enough milk. Let’s just say there were many times where my husband would wake me up from a dead sleep while pumping. We do what we have to do as moms right?
- 4. Be prepared with extra parts. I’m lucky that I work so close to home. It literally takes me two minutes to drive to work. I’ve certainly had some days where I forgot a certain part or the actual plug ( yes that happened) to the pump at home. I quickly learned to keep a backup of supplies at work for such emergencies. I kept the battery back to my pump in my desk drawer and I definitely used it quite often! My point is there will always be days where things just don’t go smoothly and it’s so much less stressful when you have extra supplies on hand.
- 5. Don’t stress! One of the things I learned about breastfeeding is that your milk supply is effected by stress. For example, I was stressed at work one day and when I went to pump, I could not even get a let down. I remember sitting there freaking out staring at the empty bottles as if that would help….well that is like watching paint dry. I started freaking out more because I knew I only had a small window of time and I didn’t want to mess up my schedule. If this happens to you I will tell you how to fix it! First of all, step away for a few minutes, relax and take a deep breath. When you are ready… sit back down, bust out pictures of your baby and try again. This worked every time for me. If all else fails, nurse your baby as soon as you are together again and this will get you back on track!
- 6. Get a good hands free pumping bra. I would never have made it a full year breastfeeding without my hands free pumping bra. This bra is amazing! I’m such a multitasker so I would eat my lunch, type notes at work, work on blog posts and even put my makeup on while pumping. It’s a total lifesaver! Also, if you’ve ever tried just pumping on one side while holding it in place, it becomes quite annoying in my opinion!
- 7. More suction is not always better. If you are like me, you probably starting pumping by turning the suction all the way up to get more bang for your buck. I was wondering why pumping was a little painful for me at first. I later learned that just because you have the suction turned all the way up doesn’t mean you will produce more milk. Go slow and gradually increase the suction, and you will have a much better experience!
- 8. Don’t be afraid to pump in public, you have rights! I have funny story for you here. I refused to not have a life just because I was breastfeeding/pumping. My family was visiting for Fourth of July and we were at the beach for the day. My daughter was napping and I had to pump so I went into the restroom ( not the best place but they were super nice at least). The next thing I knew, someone had called security on me and an officer was knocking on my stall. Clearly the security officer is a mother because she understood right away and apologized. To this day, I’m not sure what the heck the person who reported me thought was going on but we all laugh about it now. So long story short, you pump where you need to and when you need to…it’s your right. You don’t have to let it completely take over your life!
- 9. Medela quick clean steam bags for easy cleaning. These quick clean bags were a total game changer for me. I was so sick of the process of cleaning my pump parts. I already felt as though all my time was spent breastfeeding or pumping. These bags make sterilizing your pump parts so easy, all you need is a little water and a microwave!
- 10. Watch your posture to avoid back pain. Perhaps it’s the therapist in me, but I learned this lesson the hard way. After about 8 months of pumping I started to get really bad upper back pain. At first I didn’t link my back pain to breastfeeding, however it made sense. I was constantly pumping while sitting at my desk or on my couch at home leaning over in bad posture. Once I started to correct this, my back felt so much better!
- 11. Talk to your moms friends. No one understands your breastfeeding journey more than fellow mom friends. I found it so helpful to talk with other moms and get advice, tips and help from them. Luckily, I work with a mom of two that could help me on days where I truly wanted to give up. It’s nice knowing that someone understands how hard it is to be a working momma!
So there you have it, my tips for how I made it a full year breastfeeding my baby girl while working full time. We just celebrated her first birthday, and I’m still in denial about how fast this year has gone by. Cherish every moment mommas, I know I do….even when I’m running on no sleep. Good thing I can have all the caffeine I want now!!
Dr. Allie Flowers
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