Everything you need to know to succeed at extended breastfeeding, when you are a busy working mom.
Before I had my first baby, I couldn’t have told you much about breastfeeding.
Now I am breastfeeding my third baby, and let me tell you, there’s a lot to know.
I spent hours researching about breastfeeding, and I was determined to make it to one year. At the time I was a medical resident at the time, and knew my strenuous schedule would make things difficult.
One of the most frustrating things I would read, was people talking about how easy it was, or how much they loved it, and how it was so natural.
Although, I do absolutely love that I’ve had the ability to breastfeed all three of my babies, love was not my initial experience.
In the beginning, I was completely miserable. I had cracked and bleeding nipples that would not heal no matter what I tried. I was in pain all the time. I would dread the moment the baby would wake up because I knew I would have to latch him on again, and it literally terrified me. I couldn’t even wear a shirt. It was the worst. I just kept telling myself, I’ll try to make it one more day.
Then there was the stress of trying to build up a milk stash. I had no clue how much the baby would drink when I returned to work. My schedule as a resident was completely unpredictable.
I did it though. I made it to 6 weeks, then 6 months, then one year, and I really began to enjoy it. I even kept going past a year, because I loved it so much. I was able to breastfeed my daughter until 18 months, and I am currently going 7 months strong with baby number 3.
It was and is still NOT easy. Every baby is different, and even though this is my third time breastfeeding, I had to seek out the help of a lactation consultant at 5 days because I was in excruciating pain due to a poor latch.
My point is: It’s totally okay, if you can’t breastfeed, or are struggling, or don’t love it. Motherhood is freaking hard. Please, do not let anyone make you feel guilty for whatever way you feed your baby. I know you love that baby no matter what he eats.
If you are a working mom, there are many challenges you will face. Once you return to work your supply might drop, you will be concerned about having enough in your “stash”, and pumping just totally sucks.
The exciting thing is, I am a living example that you can succeed at extended breastfeeding even if you are a full time working mom. Lord knows I have my stories of leaking milk through my scrub top during surgeries that went a little too long. If I can do it, you can too!
Here are my best tips to succeed at extended breastfeeding when you’re a busy working mom.
- Ask for Help– Most hospitals have lactation consultants on staff that can help you get off to a great start. Once you are home, sh** gets real. Don’t be afraid to call your hospital to refer you to a lactation consultant that can help you with any problems you are having. Breastfeeding may be a little uncomfortable, but it should not be painful. If it is excruciating, there is a whole list of things that might be wrong, from tongue tie, thrush, and most commonly a poor latch. With my third baby it was the simplest fix to get the baby to latch deeper, and we have been going strong ever since. Don’t feel ashamed, or embarrassed if breastfeeding is not going well for you. Get some help mama!
- One Day at a Time– With my first baby, I had a lot of early difficulties with breastfeeding. My latch was horrible, and I was in a lot of pain. I was one of those mamas that did not ask for help, and I just fought through the pain. Don’t be me. I told myself, to just make it one more day. I did! Once I got to about the 4 week mark, our latch kind of worked itself out, but that is a long time be in pain. Set small goals. Try to make it to one month, then 6 weeks, then 2 months. Once you get to about 3-4 months, it really does start to become easier. I personally think it’s now much easier than preparing a bottle in the middle of the night. The same advice goes for pumping. I always dread pumping. It’s a pain, and it’s awkward, especially if you work with men, and you have to excuse yourself for 20 minutes to sneak off and pump. Every time I would finish pumping, I would say “okay, I’m done for today”, then try to not think about it again. It’s such a pain to have to clean the pump parts, store the milk, and hook yourself up to a machine like a cow every day. Just take it one day at a time and a year will fly by before you know it.
- Get a Great Pump– You have to have an excellent, double electric pump if you’re going to make it a full year of pumping. Luckily, most insurances will actually cover and pay for your pump. The only problem is that you can’t always pick the pump. They usually have 2 or 3 choices. If you can get the Medela freestyle, GET IT. That puppy was so amazing. It’s battery operated and super portable. I used to pump in the car in the Miami traffic on the way to and from work if needed. I’m sure I got a few weird stares on the road. The second time I got the Medela Pump in Style, which was okay, but I didn’t love it as much as the freestyle. This time I have the Spectra. I’m sorry, I just don’t understand why it can’t be battery operated. I have a real problem with not being able to pump in the car, or in other weird places. I have to find a plug, and there is only one random plug in the operating room lounge on Thursdays. It’s not that big of an issue, but as I said, pumping is already annoying so the pump needs to be convenient. Also, the Spectra has like a billion numbers and settings on the display screen. I have absolutely no idea what any of them mean, so I just crank it up to whatever I can tolerate and go.
- Get a Manual Pump for Emergencies-The number of times I forget my pump is like, ridiculous. I’m working on being a more organized mom, but that doesn’t happen every day. A smart idea is to get one of these little manual pumps and keep it in your car for emergencies. I love this one. If you live close and can go home at lunch, great, but if you work like an hour from home things could get a bit stressful. Keep one stashed at work or in your car, if you’re a disorganized lady like me. It’s also great to slip in a purse if you are going to a football game, or girl’s night out, and you know there won’t be anywhere for you to whip out a giant electric pump.
- Buy Spare Parts. You just worked all day, made dinner, gave the kids a bath, and now you get to wash pump parts and bottles all night! Woo hoo! No. Grab some extra parts for your pump. You should have at least, one extra set so you can wash every other day. These wipes are great for a quick wash of the parts throughout the day, but you definitely want to keep all the parts nice and clean and as sterile as possible.
- Keep it Cool– Make sure you have a portable cooler or that your office has a fridge to store milk. Breastmilk does stay good for much longer than formula or regular milk though, so if you need to leave it out for a bit don’t panic. I never really freak out too much about it. Also, bring extra storage bags, just in case you fill up your bottles, or get stuck at work and have to pump more than usual. This way you can pour the milk into the bags and free up your pump bottles for more.
- Multitask– You can pump totally hands free with this super fashionable (kidding) pump bra. I absolutely love my hands free pumping bra because I can work while I pump. When I pump I usually multitask and try to catch up on notes, eat lunch, and check emails. And can we talk about how sassy this model is?
- Look at Pics of Baby– Some women have trouble with ‘let down‘ when pumping. A little trick is to look at pictures of the baby on your phone. Also don’t forget to drink water, and eat snacks to make sure you are nourished and promoting good milk supply.
- Don’t Cry over Spilt Milk- I used to cry, like full on adult tantrums, if I spilled milk or accidentally left it in my bag overnight, or if even a single drop was wasted at the daycare. Guys, it’s really not the end of the world. I know, I
wasam a crazy mom too. That kind of thinking can cause a lot of unnecessary stress in your life. If you don’t have enough breastmilk for the next day, or something happens to it, you can give baby a little formula to get them by, and then they will be back up and running by the next day with a full supply of breastmilk. And on that note…
- It’s Okay if You Need to Supplement- I was so intense when I was pumping for Noah (my first baby), that I don’t think he had formula until close to a year old. Bethany (my second) had formula at 3 months. I was having trouble producing enough for her so I would just send her to daycare with 2 breastmilk bottles and one formula. She was just fine, and I was way less stressed. The point here is, don’t stress yourself out to the point of no return over what your baby eats. Fed really is best.
Related Post: Organized Morning Routine for Busy Moms
If you pay attention to these 10 things, you can be successful at extended breastfeeding, even if you have to work full time or crazy hours. If you want to do it, you can and will mama!
What are your best working mom breastfeeding tips? Let me know in the comments below!