12 August, 2011

pumping and working -- with love from guest blogger meredith

meredith is a super mom. i remember when we first met up together after having a baby, we chatted about all of the nursing challenges we had faced. i remember her saying specifically, "quitting just wasn't an option." i reference this quote often. it's just like anything else, if you enter a challenge with the idea of trying it out or seeing if it will work, undoubtedly, you will fail. if quitting is not an option, you will figure something out. you will make it work. just like meredith did. she went back to work and pumped for an entire school year. she had enough extra milk that she was able to supply other moms who needed milk for their babies with her own liquid love. my friend used her milk while her baby was in the nicu for months. there are so many stories of women who have made it work, against the odds, when others would have just given a bottle of artificial milk. i hope that these women will speak out and share their stories, too. more women need to understand that where there is a will, there is a way. if it's important to you, you can do it. and with a support network such as the one we have created on facebook, it makes it that much easier. so if you are a working mom, or are planning to go back to work after having your baby, or know someone who is, please ask to join meredith's facebook page. share it out. because if a mom wants to continue nursing, going back to work should not stop her. it's even law now that employers must provide a suitable and comfortable location THAT IS NOT A BATHROOM for moms so that they can pump. so here is a little something from meredith about meredith.

I breastfed until I was 4. I helped my mom pump for my sister. I tandem nursed with my younger sister. I grew up in a log cabin in the woods with my hippy parents. I guess you can say I was destined to be a breastfeeding mom.

From the time I got pregnant with Brayden in June of 2009, I knew I was going to breastfeed. There was no other option for me. And then when Brayden was born four weeks early on January 28, 2010, I was in for a challenge. He was so little & had so much trouble latching on. Thank goodness for my mom, my husband, & the nipple shield. Without these three things, I would have given up. Each day got easier & we fell into a groove & are still going strong almost 19 months later!

I knew I would have to go back to teaching that September, when Brayden was about 7 months old. With college loans, credit card debt, mortgage, & all the other fun expenses of being an adult, it was not an option for me to stay home, even though I wanted to so badly. However, I am very lucky with my childcare situation – my husband is a firefighter who works one 24-hour shift & then has three days off, so he is home with B most of the time & the other days a friend would watch B at our house or I would drop him off to go play with his friends & their stay-at-home moms.

I started pumping in June a bit so when I taught summer school for 5 weeks, 4 days a week, 3 hours a day, Brayden could still have my milk if he wanted when I was gone. So he would nurse before I left in the morning, then would sometimes take a bottle when I was away from him, & then he’d nurse as soon as I got home. Then in August I started pumping more frequently to prepare my freezer for my first school year as a working mom.

I knew that pumping at work would take some getting used to when teaching started up in September. It would be a daily occurrence – I would have 27 minutes, yes ONLY 27 minutes, to pee, pump, & eat. I was getting nervous just thinking about it. Was this even possible? But I knew I wanted Brayden to have breastmilk each & every day even when I was not there, so it was just something I had to get adjusted to doing every single school day. Back in July, I had ordered a Simple Wishes Hands-Free Pumping Bra from Amazon. This would allow me to eat, check Facebook, read e-mails, etc. while I pumped. This was the best $30 I ever spent! If you are going back to work, this is a must-have!

So I fell into a routine of running to the bathroom right after my advisory class, locking my classroom door, sitting down in a desk, getting the pump all set up, eating, packing up all the pump parts, & making sure I was ready for my 6th period class all in 27 minutes. When my body became adjusted to pumping, I was able to pump an average of 8-10 ounces each day. Just remember if you only get 3-5 ounces in a pumping session in the beginning, this is totally normal. Your body needs time to get used to the pump, so don’t give up!

As Brayden’s first birthday approached in January, I figured I’d stop pumping. This is what I had heard people talk about – only pumping until their baby was one. But Brayden was still taking some breastmilk from a bottle almost every day, so I didn’t want to deny him that. So I continued to pump until June. It had become second nature to me, so it was no big deal!

At almost 19 months, Brayden still nurses 3-4 times a day & a few times throughout the night. Whether he is nursing for comfort or food, I don’t care. I just cherish these special bonding times that we have together, just the two of us.

Our nursing relationship has continued to be strong even though I had to be away from him from 8:00am to 3:30pm, Monday through Friday from September to June. I would try to nurse him in the morning before work if he wanted to, pump at work, and then we would nurse right when I arrived home. This was a great way for me to relax after work & reconnect & touch base with Brayden after my work day. Then he would continue to nurse quite a bit the rest of the afternoon & evening as if to catch up for missed nursing sessions during the day.

As another school year approaches, I start to get sad that I have to be away from my little boy again, but I know that we will always be able to catch up when I get home over warm breastmilk.

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