In honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2015, we are sharing inspirational stories from breastfeeding/working moms. Today’s story was written by Georgina.
When I had to go back to work I knew I wanted to keep providing my son with the very best I could offer and one of them was his dear breastmilk. I was very confused with the whole pumping at work idea. I had done some research at work before delivering as to where the lactation room was and what the process was to reserve the room. I work at a hospital and I thought that just by going to the L&D department everyone would know where our lactation room was and it was going to be very easy to find. Well to my surprise, no one knew exactly what I was referring to, all the nurses looked at me with puzzled faces and confused as to why an 8 month pregnant employee was asking about this room and they didn't even know where it was! When I finally found it, it was a rather disappointing, sad room that looked like a utility closet, but at least it was clean and it had the necessities: a chair, a desk and a fridge.
I took the longest maternity time off I could take with and without pay and in the meantime I read and read and read everything I could about breastfeeding and pumping at work. Breastfeeding had its challenges, but we quickly adapted to one another and it started to feel like a breeze. It was near the end of my baby bonding time that I started to become stressed about the whole logistics about pumping at work. The more I researched, the more confused I got. How many hours can breastmilk be in the fridge? What if he didn't finish the whole bottle? Was it safe to use it again? How many ounces to feed? How often? What if I don't make enough milk? Ugh! Sooo frustrating! So many doubts! So many mixed emotions!! I joined several breastfeeding support groups and would often go to baby weight-ins just to make sure baby was eating enough only through my breast. But, how would I know if we were overfeeding him when using the bottle while I was at work? What about underfeeding him,? Would he prefer the bottle over me? I decided to attend aBreastfeeding for the Working Mom class through the SD Breastfeeding Center by Robin Kaplan. Even though I had already read what she said, it was extremely reassuring to hear it by a someone who had gone through it before. Robin was very patient. She sat with me and we made a "pumping at work plan." How many times and the estimated hours that I would be pumping. I still remember my pumping schedule as if it was yesterday. Nurse at 5am, pump at 8:30am, pump at 11:45am and nurse at 3pm. Slightly adjust schedule as breasts were engorged when I would feed the baby earlier than 5am. It worked like a charm!
It was definitely a learning curve for the nanny and our family members who were taking care of our little guy while we were at work. We had to teach everyone not to shake breast milk - only swirl. Fat particles in breastmilk are normal. It’s normal to have different colors. And never ever dump any breast milk that smelled fine... we could always make breastmilk soap, lotion and even use it for rashes and cuts. Everyone, myself included, has been amazed about the little we knew about the amazing properties of breastmilk and how powerful it is. We learned about paced feeding and growth spurts the hard way and we succeeded.
I pumped until little dude was about 11-13 months. That was last year when our summer in San Diego was just extreme. During the day while I was at work he was asking for more water than breast milk and shortly after he refused to drink breastmilk from his sippy cup only from the tap :) He is past 2 years old now and we are still nursing strong. It has been a marvelous, unexpected experience for both of us.
Every once in a while I still pump to make our little dude some breast milk soap and I was very happy to find a beautiful bright freshly remodeled lactation room at the hospital where I still work.
If I could go back in time I would tell myself to trust my body to do its magic. Eat oatmeal, drink lots of water, watch pictures/videos of baby while you are pumping, relax and watch your baby being nourished by your wonderful body. Take advice with a grain of salt. Everyone is different, trust the relationship you have with that amazing human creature your same body nourished for 9 months in your belly. You can do this! You are meant to do this and you can!