The most challenging part of breastfeeding for me, by far, was going back to work. On day one back at work, not only was I worried about leaving my baby, but I also had to produce food for him in a bit of a weird place to be doing so.
One important thing to note: by law (thanks to the ACA), employers with over 50 employees must provide a place for a mother to breastfeed her baby that is not a restroom. Details can be found on the US Department of Labor Website. They also must provide you with the time to breastfeed (although I don't think they have to pay you, I'm salaried, so I don't know).
Anyway, I checked with my HR representative before I left for maternity leave and made sure things were on the up and up from that perspective. She had a spare office ready for me when I got back to work. It was not 100% ideal, but better than the worst I've heard of. I would definitely recommend talking to your HR representative before leaving on maternity leave. Some of my previous employers had a designated room for nursing moms rather than a makeshift place like mine had. One of my employers had a really nice room with a comfortable reclining armchair, table and its own fridge. My office that I used to pump had a round table and four chairs, a file cabinet, and a lamp. The lamp was stolen about 4 months after I went back to work.
I had my fair share of issues when I got back to work. One of my fellow employees found it amusing to knock on the door while I was pumping, even though he knew I was in there and what I was doing. After I caught him doing it, he stopped. I think he might be the same guy who stole the lamp. I had trouble with people from other locations trying to squat in the office for the day, until finally I started locking the door all the time.
I was lucky that I was able to keep up with producing enough milk for Owen during the time that I pumped. I have a few tips that I think really helped me:
- Get lots of rest, and stay hydrated. These aren't the be all -end all of making things work, but I know that the more rest I would get, the more I would produce.
- Don't skip pumping sessions. If you have a plan that is working for you, stay on schedule. Make it a priority. Put it on your calendar so that others cannot schedule that time. Set an alarm.
- Make sure you're nursing whenever you can when you're with your baby. I have to admit, I made it a huge priority to make sure that I was always with Owen when I wasn't at work so that I could nurse him. Nursing keeps your supply up better than pumping, so make use of that if you can.
- Don't let daycare try and tell you to bring in more and more milk! This is HUGE. Daycare is used to formula fed infants, and they will try and tell you that your baby is hungry and needs more and more milk. I fought this over and over and worked with them. He would drink the bottle so fast and would cry when it was gone. But, I never sent in more than 9oz per day for him. In general, breastfed babies need 1oz per hour of separation. Kellymom.com has an excellent page on this, complete with a calculator for figuring out how much milk your baby needs. Personally, I think this expectation of more, more, more is what sabotaged many of the working moms that I know who gave up pumping early.
- Don't increase the nipple size on the bottles. Breastfed babies east slower than formula fed babies and the slower they eat, the faster they'll get full. So, use the lowest flow nipples you can find, and don't ever increase them. Owen was still using newborn nipples at 12 months. I mean, your own nipples don't change the flow, right?
My biggest tip? It's fine to breastfeed part time if you want to. At 12 months, I weaned from the pump and by the end of June, I was not pumping at work anymore at all (a WONDERFUL relief!). However, I still nurse Owen before bed and in the morning (and if he wakes up during the night). I also nurse him twice more during the day on weekends or if he's home from school. Yes, I still make milk (many friends have asked). Owen drinks whole cows milk from bottles at daycare now.
I hope that my posts on breastfeeding have been helpful. I loved reading about peoples experiences when I was in the thick of breastfeeding, because it made me feel a little less like the only person in the world who was not planning to give formula to my baby ever. Hopefully you learned something!
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