World Breastfeeding Week: Making Breastfeeding Work at Work

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August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week, and the theme for 2015 is Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work!

World Breastfeeding Week: Making Breastfeeding Work at Work
Milk breaks always include water and something to read

I don’t think anyone will tell you that breastfeeding is easy. Sure, it gets easier, but I wouldn’t say that it’s ever easy. Breastfeeding and working full-time? Definitely not easy or especially fun.

When my son was born, I was bound and determined to breastfeed and pump at work. I was going to make it happen. It was only through sheer determination that I stuck with it for a full year. And when I successfully breastfed my son through the first year of his life, I felt like I deserved a badge of honor. (Congress should consider giving out badges of honor to moms. We totally deserve it.)

Three times a day I would sit by myself in the basement of my workplace and pump enough milk to sustain my little one. Three times a day I would drop whatever I was working on and take my “milk breaks.” It wasn’t horrible, but I’d be lying if I tried to tell you it was fun. It required commitment, organization, and a firm belief that all of it was ultimately worth it. Eight months in to breastfeeding and working full-time with my second child, I am again reminded that breastfeeding, pumping, and working full-time is a chore. An important chore, but still a chore.

World Breastfeeding Week: Making Breastfeeding Work at Work
Weighing out milk for bottles = weighing out my milk success!

If there’s anything I’ve learned about being a mom, it is moms make it work!

Here are a few things I’ve learned about breastfeeding and working full-time:

  1. Be organized. Pack all your pumping stuff the night before. There’s nothing like a morning mad dash to make you forget something on the counter.
  2. Keep extra bottles, pumping parts, flanges, etc., at work. After our first baby was born and just before I was getting ready to go back to work, I purchased a second breast pump for work. Yes, it probably wasn’t necessary, but I was thankful to have one less thing to bring back and forth to work.
  3. Schedule your milk breaks. Put them on your calendar, block off the time, and set a reminder.
  4. Inform people on a need-to-know basis. You don’t need to tell the entire world everything about your boobies, but if people keep trying to schedule meetings over your milk breaks, have a quick chat about how they are cramping your style.
  5. Drink copious amounts of water. I’m not kidding. I drink close to 100 ounces of water at work. My husband makes jokes about me being part camel (storing water away for a rainy day), part fish (needing water to survive).
  6. Try to pump on a one-to-one schedule for when your child takes a bottle. If you are really on top of it, try to breastfeed first thing in the morning and then pump immediately after (before work). I had one friend who was able to pump the same time as feeding her baby. That requires extreme coordination that I don’t have.
  7. Download a breastfeeding app. With our first child I didn’t have a smart phone and I’m astounded by how much easier it is now to keep track of the last time I fed the baby, how long I fed her, and what side I last fed her on. Technology is great!
  8. Don’t wear dresses. Seriously, do you really want to sit in a semi-darkened room with your dress over your head? Workplaces are notoriously cold! Wear layers and nursing/pumping-friendly clothes.
  9. This was something new for me the second time around – storing my breast pump parts in a plastic bag in a cooler in the fridge. With my son, I washed and cleaned parts after every time I pumped, but now I’m wiser. It’s completely fine to store the parts in between pumpings and wash at the end of the day.
  10. If you are sharing a new mother’s room with other women, communicate with them. Figure out when everyone needs to use the room and try to be accommodating.

And above all – it’s okay to cry over spilled milk. The person who said there’s no crying over spilled milk – probably not a mom who just pumped breast milk.

World Breastfeeding Week: Making Breastfeeding Work at Work
The little one who is worth it all!

Have you made breastfeeding work at work? Tell us about it!

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Kara originally hails from northwest Iowa where she met her husband, Lance, through a 4-H fashion show. After a decade of living in central Iowa, Kara is still figuring out which way is north. Wearing the hat of “wife, mommy, employee, chef, ribbon tie-er and family calendar organizer,” Kara knows a bit about juggling life and work. Kara became a boy-mom in June of 2011 to Lucan and a girl-mom to Gracelyn in December of 2014. Most days you can find her mixing up metaphors and oversharing life’s moments via social media. Kara enjoys yoga, reading, gardening, cooking, sewing in straight lines and singing along to musicals. A spender by nature, but thrifty by necessity, Kara is always in hunt of a bargain. She’s an active member of Northpoint Church and a resident of Grimes. Her vision for life includes “doing the best we can with what God gives us.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. yes its work, but i have done it with two successfully and in the middle of my third. I got well over a year with both of my oldest on breast milk only. my third is almost 6 months and has only had breast milk. it’s important that by law your employee has a designated place for you to pump. If you can—afford to, I have two pumps I leave one at work and one at home. I keep extra milk bags in my pump bag as well. i clean everything at work so when i get home its not something I need to do. If you feel your supply is going down at work due to pumping instead of nursing—-get fenugreek/brewers yeast/mothers milk tea and or nursing support tablets…all of which help. keep it up—its totally worth it.

  2. I am lucky to have a mothers room at work that has a lock, fridge, and mirror. I am sure to wear a shirt or dress i can easily pull down.Stoeing your pumping parts throughout the day in a plastic bag in the fridge is my favorite hack.

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