Breastfeeding & Working Moms Hot Topic: How to make it work

BA0940When breastfeeding moms go back to work, there are many issues that have to be addressed . . . things like finding the time and the right place to express milk, dealing with the questions and comments from supervisors and co-workers, dealing with supervisors who are not supportive of your needs, etc.

Please share your experiences and any tips you have for making this easier for everyone.  We’ll archive for the Working Moms Cubby and the Breastfeeding Cubby.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

snfrocks July 29, 2014 at 11:57 am

From our message boards:

From emherron: My last company was great! They provided me with a room where I could lock the door and express in private. My new company does not so I guess I will be doing it in the ladies room.

From amyl: I work 12 hour days as a pharmacist. No breaks or lunches. I was able to make it work by going to the back corner of the pharmacy. The bays are small enough where my back was the 4th wall and my excellent techs did their best to keep any male employees from coming too far back to talk to me. I had an option of a back room but found the back corner of the pharmacy allowed me to check prescriptions or take phone calls without interrupting my pumping, but still allowing me enough privacy. As to timing of pumping I found our bodies are remarkably adaptable. So long as I pumped after working no more than 5 hours into the shift I was able to work the entire shift providing for my sons needs with only 2 pumping sessions.

From HannahsMommy: I am lucky. I have a very supportive work environment. Finding the room was the tricky part. I was using an old office, but we are now under construction and I was “kicked out”. So I now use a room that is a laundry room off of the kitchen. ( I work in a Mental Health facility with a large conference room/kitchen). It does not lock, but everyone knows if the door is closed, I am using it. I have been caught once by my boss, but she was very apologetic and left immediately. As for timing: I make my own schedule for seeing clients, so I make sure I don’t schedule someone at 11:00 and 2:30. I know I have it easy, but it can get frustrating; I know I was when I first came back to work.

From jacbyrd: I went from a very bad environment to a wonderful environment and it has made all the difference in my pumping. I have a private office and I blocked out time on my schedule for breaks so that no one schedules anything. There are times when something comes up that I have to attend during a pumping time, and I try to be flexible. Everyone around here knows what I am doing, so I don’t try to hide. If I am in a meeting that I can leave, I have been known to stand up and say “Gotta pump now. We can resume in 15 minutes”. The best tip I ever got was to get a Medela Pump In Style instead of a cheaper pump. That pump has come through for me and helped me maintain my supply better than some of the other pumps ever could have.

From madzac: We have been nursing for a year today!! I have been pumping at work since 5 weeks postpartum. My DD never had a drop of formula which was important to me. I would have supplemented with formula if I hadn’t been able to keep up. It can be hard but so worth it. My DD has definitely been healthier than many of the kids in her room. My advice, first, buy a good pump. I use the Medela PIS and love it. I can pump in 12-15 minutes. Before you return to work, practice with the pump and build yourself a little freezer stash. This takes some pressure off if you don’t quite pump enough one day. At work, I have always tried to pump about when she would nurse. This has changed over the past year from 3-4 times a day to twice now. It is not always easy when you get busy, but my cowrkers know this is my priority. Have lots of pictures to look at to help with let down. It also helped me for the first 9 months to pump first thing in the am too as I would get the most milk. I am lucky to have my own office, and people know not to bug me then. If you can go to nurse at noon, it helps your supply, your baby and your own mental health! I did this until she lost interest in this feeding around 7 months. I miss going to her at noon now! Nurse as often as you can in the evenings. We coslept much of the first year and that really helped too. Many babies reverse cycle and take less during the day and make up for it at night. Sometimes it is hard not to worry if they are getting enough, but they make it work. It is actually a sign you are well attached! Instruct your daycare to try smaller amounts and gradually increase so they don’t heat a full 6 oz bottle and end up throwing 4 oz of your milk down the drain!! I also had them not give her more than 1 oz in the hour before lunch and the end of the day so she was ready to nurse when we got together again! I found the book Nursing Mother, Working Mother by Gale Pryor to be helpful too.

From ElijahsMommy: Working and breastfeeding isn’t easy–I’ll be the first to admit it. Sometimes you have to be VERY creative in finding a place to pump. Normally, I can pump in my office. But I also travel with my job, and there’s not always a convenient place to pump. I have pumped in my car and in a bathroom as well (not the best place, but it worked). My boss is very supportive of my decision to breastfeed, which helps a lot. She is very understanding and lenient with me when I need to politely excuse myself from a meeting, etc. to pump. Another thing to remember is to know your legal rights as a working, breastfeeding mom.

It is a lot of work, and sometimes a sacrifice, but it is SO worth it! I wouldn’t trade it for anything! It gives me that special connection with ds that I need at the end of the day–especially since I’ve missed him so much throughout the day!

From Donna S.: I teach in a school with a 7 period day. With my 1st DD, I tried pumping at school and found it very difficult so I gave up. I was determined to keep it going with my 2nd DD as long as I can. I have found that if I pump on my conference, I can make it until the end of school. I put black paper up over my door windows and lock the doors. I have instructed the secretary and others not to bother me during the first 20 minutes of my conference because I am taking care of my DD. Other teachers know that if they see the black paper to not bother me. I had some students ask why I put up the paper, and I just told them that sometimes during my conference I need to just be alone to get myself in order. They bought this excuse for now. So far everyone has been very supportive of my decision to keep going. I only have 2 and a half months of school left so hopefully I can make it until then.

From bugsmom: I work in a hospital. They are very pro-breastfeeding, will even provide pumps for faculty to use. I worked in RR(PACU) and there were a few times I couldn’t leave the unit, so I would wall off an area and use my PIS. By law (at least in IL) employers are to provide a room with a lock to allow you to pump in privacy (and no, this does not mean the bathroom.) The same is true for breastfeeding in public. You don’t have to go to the bathroom to do it.

From L: Unfortunately, I found out after I returned to work, that my supervisor was less than supportive when it come to bf than I thought. I informed her that I would continue to bf after I returned to work and would need a private, secure place to pump. That was all I got. After my first week back on the job, my supervisor pulled me into her office and told me that I would have to make up the time I spent pumping, either after work, or by taking my lunch at my desk. I asked her if the smokers in our building would have to make up the time they spent smoking during the day. She said she would have to “address” that issue (which I interpreted as “no”).

My suggestion . . . stick up for yourself. I contacted the Human Resources department to see if there was a policy about pumping in the workplace. I told them it was a surprise to me that a health insurance company would condone smoking and not support breastfeeding. My supervisor was quickly informed that I need not make up the time spent pumping!

From phishy: I had DS in a day care 5 minutes from where I teach – very convenient for lunch time nursing! I only get 45 minutes though, so it was nice when I had a student teacher and I could leave 5 minutes earlier than she. Gave me a second to “breathe”!
I pumped in my classroom and just turned off the lights 🙂 CA has laws for the rights to have a place and a time to breastfeed. My principal was MORE than accommodating in that respect. I was able to cancel all recess duties during recess and switch for more after school. That worked well. Just talk to your boss 🙂 I pumped before school, during recess, during lunch and after school. I’m a little freaked out about #2 with that this time. More and more work we have to do (it seems) as teachers, and I feel like I do not get enough done in the day as it is. It CAN work though – keep focused on your end result – your baby!!!!

From Quoth: I went back to work on a job share basis when Charlie was 4 1/2 months old. I work on a fortnightly shift rota – 2 days on week one, 3 days on week 2. As I work in a nursery there’s a strict staff/child ratio to be adhered to and I would have been laughed out of town if I had asked for time off the nursery floor to express milk. Not to mention Scotland has a low breastfeeding record (which is gradually increasing as the health authorities promote it) so generally people aren’t used to the idea. In the end it wouldn’t have mattered because I could never express enough milk, I would sit for half an hour and get 2 ounces. It seems Charlie was far more effective than the pump! So, I ended up leaving formula for Charlie on the days I was working and continued to breastfeed when I was at home. My boobs would be so engorged by the time I got home I couldn’t wait to feed her. My supply wasn’t affected because I went back at 16 weeks, worked part time, and had school hours and holidays. It wasn’t ideal, but I was determined to carry on breastfeeding, so even in difficult circumstances you can still ensure your baby gets breast milk most of the time. Having said that, I’m not sure if this would work if you go back to work before your supply is set up or if you are working full time/long hours.

From CSK2003: Honestly I couldn’t make it work. I tried and I tried and I tried but the pump wasn’t sufficient to keep my milk up and job stress didn’t help. I pumped before work, 3 times a day at work and before bed. In the end I was pumping 5 times a day in addition to nursing before work and at bedtime and I wasn’t getting enough milk from those pumping sessions combined for 1 feeding. I tried fenugreek, mother’s milk tea, tons of water, oatmeal . . . nothing worked. My DD weaned on her own at 8 months because with my horribly low supply she lost interest. She just wasn’t getting enough and got frustrated to the point that she wanted nothing to do with the breast. After 3 weeks of biting, flat out refusal to nurse and not being able to pump more than drops, I knew it was over. I never had pumping issues before I returned to work. I think the job stress combined with using the pump in place of the middle of the day nursings was my downfall. Bravo to anyone who is able to make it work. I am determined to either make it work or be a SAHM when I have another baby.

From Jime´s mom: I work full time from 8-5. According to my country’s laws, every mom has the right to breastfeed their baby, so you have 15 minutes per every two hours you work as “breastfeeding time”, that´s an hour a day, until your baby turns 1 year old. That makes things a little bit easier. Until my DD was 1 year old, I worked from 8 – 4. DD´s PD told me to pump when it was DD’s feeding time, and it worked great. By the time I came back to work, DD was almost 4 months and nursing every 4 hours, so I could nurse her at 6 a.m, pump at 10 a.m, pump at 2 p.m and then nurse her at 6 p.m. I could pump enough for her to have 2 bottles of breast milk per day. The PD prescribed her formula, so in case that I couldn´t pump I wouldn´t worry because I knew she would be having formula. I used to drink enough water and bring DD’s picture with me when I was nursing time. Having a supporting boss and co-workers made things easier, they knew I would be out for some minutes once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I used to pump at the bathroom, thank God we have enough bathrooms.

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