Beauty and the Beast: Working while Breastfeeding
A full year is now complete, and I can tell you it is one of the biggest reliefs I’ve ever had.
Breastfeeding your little one is one of the most gratifying and accomplishing things, at least it was for me. It was also one of the most stressful times. What if I miss a pumping session? What if I don’t pump enough volume one day? Will I lose my supply and be unable to feed my baby?
It started out smoothly, nursing frequently, but then being informed my baby isn’t gaining weight- he’s actually losing. Devestation takes over. Am I a bad mother that I didn’t realize this? Feeling like I was starving my newborn baby. A visit to the lactation consultant, power pumping, resting, supplementing and nursing finally brought his weight back up.
Heading Back to Work
A bad pumping day meant concern. Concern that I wouldn’t have enough for the next day. Concern for the week ahead. Concern for the next few months. Sure I had a stash in the freezer, but I was doing my darndest to avoid touching it. What if I got sick and needed it? There might be a time that I can’t be with my baby and he may need it.
Breastfeeding is easy, they say. Just pull it out, stick it in their mouth. Also dealing with the ignorant thought of “I want to feed the baby, can’t you just pump?” No, no I can’t. My daycare teacher-“Could you just send an extra one to 1 1/2 ounces per bottle?” You do know that’s not how this works right… You just don’t turn the faucet on and it comes out.
What about fitting it into your work schedule? I had to set a daily alarm to remind myself to go to the lactation room. It was also difficult to set that boundary for people that I worked with. “Can you take this add-on patient?” No, no I can’t. I have to go pump.
Then, you have to add pumping sessions to keep your supply strong - 5 am before the baby wakes, on the way to work, during the day at work, and then on the way home. Enough to drive you mad!
What do you do when you get to work and realize that you forgot one of your pump parts? Do I suck it up, not pump, and risk a clogged duct? Do I go home when the drive takes me an hour there and then back again? Am I able to improvise with office supplies?
This is the reality of working and pumping. Always wondering if things will go right that day, then the next, then the next.
What about when things DO go wrong?
Clogged ducts - Man, are they a bother. And there are SO many options for treatment. Pumping, massage, heat, nursing, pumping, cabbage, lecithin capsules, more pumping and the list goes on. What’s a girl to do if NOTHING works??? If all else fails, prepare for mastitis 👇🏼
Mastitis- It’s not fun...it is actually pretty terrible. The chills, fever, fatigue, pain- all wrapped up into one. It had me down for the count. I’m surprised I was even able to drive to my PCP’s office that morning for antibiotics.
Biting- when they start to get those teeth and are curious on how to use them. Let me tell you, those babies draw blood! The sad part is, a lot of times, these Littles think it’s a game.
Breast Rejection- When out of nowhere, your babe wants NOTHING to do with your boob. Pretends to latch then pushes you away and shouts in protest. My son did this for about a week, convincing him to nurse only before bed. Did I want to pump after a full day away loaded with more pumping? Absolutely not! I just kept at it and eventually he figured out that the boob was way better than nothing. (Disclaimer: No babies were starved during this time)
Forgetting to pump- When work gets busy, sometimes the last thing on your mind was throwing on the nipple suction. In comes several daily reminder “pumping” alarms. This is also where not pumping due to sleeping with mastitis comes in 👆🏼 Baby has to go to daycare so you can rest, but then you miss 1-2 pumping sessions in recovery which leads to a supply drop. The extra pumping sessions you add in to recover that supply are exhausting.
The list goes on, and on, and on...
I will tell you, that first year of both of my son’s lives were rough. There were times my husband thought I needed counseling. There were times that I thought he needed to just move out. There were even times where I wanted to lock myself up in the nursery with my little and speak to no one, not even my other child. R. O. U. G. H. Now that I am officially done nursing and pumping, life has become SO much less stressful. No more constant worry for the endless reasons why I might fail reaching my goal. The world is a better place.
With this, I must share that being able to nurse my child for a year was the most amazing experience. The relationship, closeness, love, snuggles, sense of accomplishment - it was all worth it. Would I do it all over again? Yes. Without skipping a beat every. single. time.
Closing remarks- If your goal is to nurse, there is SO much support out there. Will it be an easy ride? No, not at all. Will you be a failure if it doesn’t pan out? No. Not at all. No matter what, you do you, Momma! You are amazing through and through!