I have a lot of “spiels” that I repeat over and over at work. There are only so many ways that you can explain about how to cope with morning sickness, how to manage back pain in third trimester, etc. After a while, you develop an efficient way to explain each subject and stick with it.
A lot of the postpartum phone calls that I get are from mothers who are trying to cope with making milk for their babies after they start back to work. So my spiel about breastfeeding and work is pretty smooth. I will admit that I’ve always felt a little condescending towards the women making those calls. After all, I’ve had four babies and worked with each of them without any problem. What’s the big deal?
Well, I had not taken into account one very important fact: I had never worked full-time with a breastfeeding baby. And that’s where the difficulty comes in. For the first time, I am struggling to keep up with breastfeeding and a full-time job, and all of a sudden I understand those tearful phone calls from breastfeeding moms.
Working full-time and trying to feed a newborn with only breastmilk is really hard. If you want to give a baby breastmilk, you have to be either in close proximity when the baby is hungry, or you have to pump milk for others to give to the baby while you are not there. Since very few of us can take our babies to work, pumping is necessary. I hate pumping milk, so I thought that I would be clever and beat the system. I put my baby boy into a daycare close to my office, and made space in my schedule to go and visit him at intervals during the day. “Look at me,” I thought, “The midwife has figured out how to have the best of both worlds!”
I’m here to tell you, the running back and forth is wearing me out. Not only that, it’s impossible to consistently time my baby’s feeding schedule with my work schedule. Sometimes he won’t wake up to eat when I get there, sometimes he’s starving ten minutes after I leave. I still have to pump milk for the daycare to have on hand just in case. I don’t let down well to a pump, so I’m constantly struggling to keep up a sufficient supply of expressed milk on hand. And that doesn’t even take into account the times that I get called to a birth in the middle of the night and my husband needs milk to tide baby over until I get home!
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m sorry if I ever made you feel lame for wanting to give up on making milk for your babies. Sometimes the midwife doesn’t have all of the answers.
Here are some resources for working mothers who breastfeed:
La Leche League International (LLLI) is always a good one. The have a good suggestion sheet here: http://www.llli.org/faq/returnwork.html
I also like WorkAndPump.com. They have a ton of good suggestions and resources. http://www.workandpump.com/