There is no need for a mother to stop breastfeeding if she returns to employment. A baby that is losing his mother’s presence need not lose her breast milk too. Just as the mother still has moral obligations to her baby, her employer has legal obligations to her. Choosing employment close to her baby or pumping milk while at work or requesting flexible hours are all options. Continuing to breastfeed will help to maintain the unique life-giving bond mom has created with her baby.
You are about to read the story of a mother who returned to work full-time when her son was just seven weeks old. After the struggle she experienced to bring him into the world, she wasn’t going to let employment demands prevent her from giving him the milk he deserved. In her story, she provides handy hints on how to increase breastmilk supply and how to store and transport breast milk, as well as giving an honest account of the challenges.
“On June 7th 2013 I marked one year of successful breastfeeding to my now 14 1/2 month old boy, Ayden. Considering I have 12 and 10 year old boys that I was not so successful with when it came to breastfeeding, I never thought I would have made it this far. I had my older two children at 20 and 22 years of age. I can honestly say that I have more time, patience, and support this time around in my 30s. I have also armed myself with more knowledge…thanks to The Alpha Parent and a breastfeeding facebook group that I am a part of. I know that without these resources I would not have made it.
When I had my first son 12 years ago, the hospital had no problem offering me the small 2oz bottles of Enfamil and quite frankly, I had no problem accepting them. I had no pamphlets, knowledge, experience, or awareness of breastfeeding. I had never seen another woman breastfeed so to me, it seemed like formula was the normal choice.
Fast forward to recent times. My husband and I were trying to conceive for over a year and during that time I read many books and on-line articles about breastfeeding, making home-made baby food, and other baby related topics. I continued researching throughout my pregnancy and also discovered The Alpha Parent. Soon enough, it was time to give birth.
An Eventful Birth Day
At 6am on June 7th (two days after my due date) my husband and I checked in at the hospital for a scheduled induction. I had scheduled the induction on my due date because I was worried due to having polyhydramnios (excessive amniotic fluid) and I was known to have 9 pounders. With the polyhydramnios I knew that if my water were to break, it could potentially result in the cord coming out first and the baby’s head or shoulders clamping it, resulting in serious harm. Due to the complications that could happen with polyhydramnios, my previous missed miscarriage at 10 weeks and the fact that this pregnancy had also been a threatened miscarriage, I thought it was my best option.
I was given Pitocin via IV and then during my exam I was told that I was 2cm. Although I started contracting, my body did not seem to progress. Hours later I was still at only 2cm but then stretched to 3cm…no bueno! The contractions progressed but I remained at 3cm late into the day. They decided to break my water for me to see if it would speed things up but all attempts were unsuccessful. My body just would not dilate past “almost 4”. I had planned on going without an epidural but sometime after dinner time I caved.
At one point after 7pm my medical team suddenly rushed in during my contractions. They were checking me, checking the monitor and what not. This kept happening during each contraction. Around 8pm the Doctor briefed me that the baby’s heart rate was dropping during contractions and mine was escalating (or vice versa…I can’t recall who was which). She said that the baby was stressed and he could possibly have his cord wrapped. She also informed me that due to his rather large measurements he could get stuck and that would be a scary situation. So, I went with her suggestion: emergency C-section.
At 8:18pm they pulled my son out of my body. I felt like my birthing experience was stolen from me. A big part of me wishes I did not agree to the c-section but then again, I don’t know if I would have had a successful outcome.
I had my husband follow the baby to the nursery while I had my tubal ligation immediately after the C-section. This was my third living child. I had two children with a previous marriage and my husband had two with his previous marriage. We both wanted a child together, which made five. Taking on more than five children was financially and practically unfeasible so I asked the hospital to sterilize me after the c-section.
To the Breast
After the procedure was complete, I was wheeled into a recovery area. I recall being completely out of it and then all of a sudden being handed my big 9.2lb bundle of boy, my son, Ayden. I unhooked my gown at the shoulder in front of everyone and immediately started to nurse. I had wanted to nurse immediately upon his birth but that option was not afforded to me so I was not going to wait a minute longer. I knew exactly what to do and the nurse affirmed that I was a pro. Little did she know that I had read about it and even watched tutorials. Her comment made me feel amazing!
I swear Ayden ate every 1-2 hours. Exhausted and sore, I struggled with breastfeeding. As Ayden ate so often and for so long I feared I wasn’t providing enough and even asked my husband to request formula from the nursery. They explained to him that since my goal was to breastfeed only, that I should not introduce a teat or formula to him as it would disrupt the whole supply and demand process with my milk…my husband suggested that I listen to them.
After leaving the hospital Ayden nursed every two hours for 30-40 minute periods, probably comfort nursing. I co-slept and fed on demand not believing in scheduled feedings or naps. Ayden was a peaceful baby, sleeping mostly.
Returning to Work
After the first week home I started pumping one side after letting Ayden eat on the other. This way I could build up a breastmilk stash in the freezer for when I was to return to work. I was fortunate to freeze 3,500 ounces after just six weeks. I set my alarm and pumped at least every two hours, day and night! I would often read The Alpha Parent postings from my Kindle during night pumping sessions, thus arming myself with more powerful knowledge.
I went back to work when Ayden was seven weeks old. I missed him terribly; however, it felt good getting back into a routine. I had a wonderful seven weeks bonding with Ayden however the structure of employment was welcoming. Immediately upon returning to work my supervisor transferred me from an open cubicle to a private office with a locking door. Knowing that I had a private place to pump with no issues was a God send. I pumped 1-3 times each day at work, depending on my work load. Some of my colleagues were unaware of what I was doing. I would place a sign on my door that read “Please do not disturb. Come back at [specific time entered].”
Transporting the Precious Cargo
I would put no more than 5oz in a storage bag and put it in the freezer standing up and it would freeze in like a rock shape. Once frozen, I placed all bags in large zip locks in the freezer as well as my deep freezer. Later on, I realized that this was not the best method as the corners or areas would crack and leak milk. I lost a lot of milk this way and started laying them flat on the freezer shelf. I then filed them in a basket and always placing the newest milk in the back. It was a filing system for my milk. It not only looked better this way as well but also took up less space in my freezer. After dinner each evening I would lay out bags on the counter to thaw for the following day at daycare.
There came a point, at around 4 months, when Ayden was eating more pumped milk than I was expressing each day I started to worry. I wanted so badly to avoid formula. That’s when I started taking supplements. I took Mothers Love More Milk Plus every day. I also made 1/2 cup of steeled cut oats each morning and evening, power pumped and drank Mothers’ Milk tea.
I produced plenty of milk and even made Ayden one extra bottle for daycare every day (a total of four bottles per day)…just in case! There was no way he was going to have formula. I’m so happy that I had an abundant storage, but then again, I pumped a lot! Below was my pumping schedule upon returning to work:
-Every 2-3 hours in the middle of the night, regardless if Ayden woke or not.
-0545 pump one side
-0700 nurse Ayden on other side
-0900 both sides
-1300 both sides
-1500 both sides
-1800 one side / nurse Ayden on other side
-2000 one side / nurse Ayden on other side
-Sometime between 11pm to midnight, one side / nurse Ayden on other side
There were pros and cons to pumping at work. On the plus side, pumping helped me de-fog and de-stressat times. However, on the down side, sometimes it felt like pumping was in the way. When I’m on a role with something I don’t like interruptions. It makes me feel like I got knocked off of the wave and have to paddle back out again and ride in on another wave.
The worst thing about pumping at work was sometimes missing or delaying my scheduled pump times due to my supervisor having random all hands meetings or one on one meetings about specific projects I was working on. In my field August and September are very demanding months. I work in Federal procurement and we are trying to obligate the funding prior to midnight on September 30th. In addition to not being able to take planned leave, we have to work mandatory comp or overtime during these months.
By around 5-6 months Ayden started getting clingy. It was a struggle with him wanting to be held all of the time. I didn’t feel resentful considering I worked 9.5 hours a day, but it was a struggle. Once he started eating food he started cutting back on the nursing but I continued to pump during the feedings he used to eat (hey, I still needed supply for daycare). At 12 months of age Ayden had still never had cows’ milk.
I’ve read many articles that explain how formula fed babies tend to have higher chances of being overweight in comparison to breastfeed babies. The growth patterns of my three children support this theory. My third baby (the one who had breastmilk only) was my heaviest baby at birth weighing 9 lbs 2 oz whereas my other two were 8 lbs 15 oz and 8 lbs 13 oz yet if you look at their growth charts, my breastfeed baby weighed less at his well baby check-ups than my formula fed babies.
I have not only meet my goal of 12 months with providing Ayden only breast milk – I have exceeded it! Thanks to the knowledge and tools I have gained from The Alpha Parent, I have been able to successfully breastfeed my baby for 14 months and counting! You can too!”
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