Breastfeeding Memoirs: Persevering when Returning to Work

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2015, we are sharing inspirational stories from breastfeeding/working moms.  Today’s story was written by Maggie.

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I had a long, stressful delivery that resulted in an emergency c-section, a tongue tie revision on day 2, followed by 48 hours in NICU. I was given a nipple shield, instructed to supplement with formula through an SNS and sent on my way. Breastfeeding was painful and difficult even with the shield, I went to many support group meetings and did weighed feeds and was able to stop supplementing. We were also dealing with a "colicky" baby until about week 8 . Then at week 10, I was able to get off the nipple shield with the help of an LC at Mary Birch. I was supposed to go back to work after 12 weeks but I was so exhausted and we were finally starting to turn a corner where we could actually enjoy our time with baby, I thankfully was able to extend my maternity leave to 16 weeks.

This prelude is to say that with all the struggles we went through in the beginning, I was very anxious about going back to work, whether I would make enough milk, whether he would get nipple confusion or a bottle preference. I worked so hard and suffered through so much literal blood, sweat, and tears to make breastfeeding work I started to really resent the fact that I had to go to work and interrupt our breastfeeding relationship.

Thankfully through my breastfeeding support group journeys I came to the San Diego Breastfeeding Center and met Ashley Treadwell. She told me about the upcoming "going back to work" class and it was only $35. I was so excited! I had so many questions. I had scoured the internet, and learned a lot through websites likeworkandpump.com, but still needed much more guidance and support.The information from that class helped me plan and feel prepared to go back to work.

Before I went on maternity leave, I worked out with my HR department where my lactation accommodation would be, but I didn't fully understand my needs until I returned. It was obvious that what we had planned was not going to be feasible long-term, so the first two weeks back were a challenge until they were able to give me my own office and make it private so that I could pump there. My pre-baby brain was trying to cause as little disturbance as possible to the rest of the office when planning my accommodations, but once I was back from maternity leave my only concern was making enough precious milk for my little guy! I'm grateful to have a supportive team at work that have had no issues whatsoever about giving me what I needed.

The first day back I barely pumped 9 oz. I was aiming for 12-15oz. I tried to keep calm and take it one day at a time. I still try to keep this mindset and not worry if I pump a little less some days. Gradually overtime I started consistently pumping 12 oz every day, and for a while was getting 16oz and was able to build a decent freezer stash. One of the LCs I met along my journeys suggested 5 minutes of hand expression after every pumping session, and that has worked wonders for me. It's amazing how much the pump leaves behind. The facebook group, "working moms who make breastfeeding work" has been also been an amazing resource.

We're now almost 4 months back at work and things are going smoothly. Bedsharing has been a saving grace...it helps my supply to let him nurse all night long, I don't worry about whether he is getting enough to eat or not, and I'm well rested for work each morning despite waking up every 2-3 hours all night. Plus its awesome snuggly bonding time that I miss out on while I'm working.

While I plan to breastfeed as long as baby wants to, I can't wait to break up with my pump in 4.5 months once he turns one!