In honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2015, we are sharing inspirational stories from breastfeeding/working moms. Today’s story was written by Margo Byrd.
As a new mother, the fear of going back to work haunted me as my maternity leave days grew smaller and smaller. Although I am one of the most fortunate mothers in the world who got to bring their child to work, I still feared that somehow it would not work out. I worried that my company would decide my bundle of joy was not so joyous, or I would completely collapse under the pressure of feeding a 3 month old in my office. I personally struggled with postpartum. I had irrational fears about what it would be like at work, felt completely helpless on multiple occasions, and had a very hard time letting my son out of my sight even to run to the bathroom (when my husband was home). As those small fears subsided, coincidentally my bigger fear of breastfeeding in my new work environment grew. For the summer, my office would be shared with my boss as I am her assistant and during the school year I would have my own office (which happens to be all glass). I work for the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Dieguito and while “Bring your child to work,” has always been a motto for our club, the fear of breastfeeding with 70-150 kids on the other side of my door was very apparent. I envisioned curling up on a toilet wiping everything down with cleaners or hiding in dark closets on the floor while I lulled my 3 month old to sleep while comfort nursing. While I was promised a, “Safe,” environment to nurse I had no idea what to expect. The struggle of postpartum and the struggle of a new environment breastfeeding made me so nervous. I had never nursed in public, let alone nursed in front of my co-workers and peers. Personally I was too scared and too naive to understand the support I would have at my job.
I had made up my mind when attending my first meeting with my supervisors to quit. With my hormonal self and hormonal worries I just felt that it was going to be a disaster. Yet, as my son, Charlie, and I were greeted by each of my co-workers and supervisors, I started to see the support for my son’s health and well being would not only be my priority, but my entire leadership team’s priority. I was greeted with warm smiles and happy faces. To my surprise one of the first questions everyone asked was, “Are you still going to breastfeed?” I sheepishly answered, “I am going to try,” and each person in my leadership team smiled and said, “Go girl!” The more people I talked with, the more I realized that our company fully supported my commitment to breastfeed him each and every day.
One of the first things my company did was set up my office. Not only did they put in a curtain to cover the glass in my office, my supervisor told me that whenever I needed to feed my son, I would have a quiet and safe place to do so. They fashioned my office to make it more suitable for a changing table, pack and play, and a swing, as well as make sure my son had what he needed to be happy and healthy. They removed large filing cabinets and replaced them with smaller ones so I could maneuver them so I could fit everything comfortably. Over the summer, when I began to share an office with my boss, her commitment to making me feel comfortable was overwhelming. My boss brought in extra items in case my son needed them, she did not put me on the schedule (so I could arrive within reasonable hours to take care of my son), and suggested making a sign for my door that said, “Feeding Charlie, Please Knock before Entering.” I was completely overwhelmed with the support to breastfeed from the beginning. And the most beautiful part of all of this was, even staff members who saw my sign on the door would knock and enter without hesitation. Males, females, co-worker’s children and volunteers all felt comfortable and normal walking in. I even held staff meetings with multiple staff at a time while feeding my son and the wonderful response to my question, “Would you mind if I fed my son,” was welcomed with an overwhelming, “Absolutely!”
While I know I am blessed and incredibly lucky, I can only speak from my experience. Each and every day is still challenging with our regular breastfeeding issues, but having the support of my co-workers and leadership team has been incredible. I can contribute to my family, provide the best nutrients for my son through breastfeeding, and I can continue to watch my son grow within the walls of the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Dieguito.