Friday, February 14, 2014

Breastfeeding: Pumping At Work (Part 3)

A long, long time ago (yes, in a galaxy far, far away) I asked a few working moms to answer some questions about how they managed to pump while at work.  Jessica is one of the oh-so-gracious ladies that participated in this anecdotal compilation.  

Jessica is a mother of two sweet girls.  Meredith is seven years old and Caroline is two.  Jessica works in the corporate world for a biotech company called Biogen Idec. 

Aren't they gorgeous??

What kind of work do you do and how long are your work days?

I have a desk job and generally work 8-5.

How long were you on maternity leave?

I returned to work full time after 12 weeks of maternity leave.

How long did you breastfeed your children?

I nursed my first baby for about 5 months and now I actually kinda kick myself for stopping when I did because that’s when it gets so much easier. Although at that time, I was in school at night for my MBA and I spent lots of time away from my baby, so I’ve had to make peace with that now that it was the right thing for both of us.

I had 5 years between my two children and knew that I would do my best to breastfeed for at least 5-6 months again, but I surprised myself by going for a full 13 months this time.

I was more prepared this time since I knew what to expect and other than the sleepless nights, it was much easier this time. Less cracking and bleeding (ouch!) and she really took to nursing quite well. I set small goals for myself, like I’ll make it until she’s 3 months old, so that it didn’t seem so daunting to think of potentially going for a whole year. Then everytime I got to one of those goals, I was never quite ready to stop. Gradually, I worked my way through the whole year- some by setting those small goals and some by being too stubborn to give up! 

What, if any, apprehensions did you have about continuing breastfeeding and pumping after your maternity leave was up?  

I was quite nervous about going back to work because for a few weeks beforehand, I had started transitioning her to a bottle just to get her used to it and she hated it! I bought every kind of bottle under the sun and she just hated them all. Everyone told me she’d eat if she got hungry enough and sure enough, she finally caved on my first day back and did fine with bottles after that (ended up with Dr. Brown’s).

Where did you physically pump at work?

We have a wonderful mother’s room with partitioned spaces, power source and a fridge. Biogen Idec was even recognized in Carolina Parent magazine for having great resources for nursing mothers.  

Describe your pumping at work schedule.

I pumped twice a day for about 30 minutes each time (from setup to cleanup) once in the late morning and once in the afternoon, so I was always ready to nurse as soon as I got home. I used a Medela pump and also used their cleaning wipes (in our new building there is now a sink to use). 

What did you pack in your pump bag?

I packed my bag with a cooler bag & ice pack, plenty of storage bottles, the Medela wipes and a hand towel to lay on my lap to protect my clothes from inevitable drips or the dreaded spill. My Kindle or other reading material was a huge help to pass the time. I know I read more in that time than I have since!

Any other working-mom-pumping-related 

thoughts you'd like to share?

I have several friends who also pumped for the full year and I felt like I had cheerleaders keeping me going when I had those rough days. I think the support system and camaraderie was one of my biggest success factors. I never anticipated making it 13 months, but with small milestone goals and lots of support, I made it and am so happy I did! I used to think people who talked about missing breastfeeding were crazy, but now I really understand because I actually long for that closeness with my baby from time to time now too!
My advice is to push hard through the first few months- they are by far the hardest, but if you can get through it, the reward in the end is totally worth it! That being said, I also fully believe that each mother has to make the best decision for herself and her baby. Don’t allow yourself to feel bullied one way or the other.


Thank you so much, Jessica for taking the time to answer my questions!  And for your patience with me turning this into a blog post almost a year later!

Questions?  Leave it in the comments!

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