The Breastfeeding Struggles of the Working Mama
This is my third time around breastfeeding and it's still one of the hardest things I’ll ever do in my life. I'm not saying that because I want any kind of special praises for doing it, but it does absolutely take a toll on your mind and body. It’s the constant physical interactions with the baby or the pump that’s latched on. My fellow breastfeeding mamas know the struggle that I’m talking about… but on the flip side, it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced in my life! I don’t think I could have ever felt as connected as I did with all of my babies if I didn’t breastfeed. It sounds cliché, but just looking into my baby’s eyes when he’s nursing, and seeing how fulfilled and happy he is, and knowing that only I am able to give him that happiness…it’s the world and more! With all that joy, it still isn’t easy. So today I’m getting real about the breastfeeding struggles of a working mom.
Breastfeeding as a work-from-home Mom
I own my own business and have the luxury of working from home, which helps a lot when it comes to breastfeeding. I can take little breaks to breastfeed Max whenever he’s hungry. Usually I can do this on my time unless I have a meeting scheduled, though even in that case, for conference calls for instance, I can just mute for a second while he’s crying and fussy latching onto the boob, and get back to my call once he’s on and happy and quiet. Email communication is another big part of my job and it can get tricky here, but I’m able to designate time for emails and feeding and make it work!
Shout-out to corporate mamas!
I really want to give a shout-out to the working mamas who are working out of the home or in an office setting. I have a girlfriend who did this while exclusively breastfeeding and she amazes me, I am beyond proud of her! She breastfed her daughter for over two years. After her initial six months of maternity leave, she did it all while pumping at work!
I used to work in the corporate world, and I can’t even imagine how she was able to do that. I think companies are getting better about designating nursing rooms and providing space, a small refrigerator, etc. for breastfeeding moms, but I know a lot of companies still struggle. My friends who are in corporations tell me that the accommodations for breastfeeding mamas are still not great yet. So I applaud all you moms who, like my friend, are working out of the home, pumping in your office, pumping in your car, pumping wherever you can, because it is not an easy thing to do!
The Pump vs. the Breast
Every mom will have her own opinion about feeding on the breast versus pumping (it’s all breastfeeding!), but for me for sure I find it easier and more comfortable to have the baby latched versus the pump. I never really got comfortable with the idea of a machine “tugging” at me, and I just feel that it took away a little bit of the bonding for me.
With Ryan I was forced to pump right away because he went to the NICU right after birth. I didn’t pump very much at all with Leo, just two times where I was headed out of town in his first year of life and I had to pump to have spare milk for him while I was gone as well as pumping on my trip. But other than that, Leo was almost strictly fed on the breast; he almost never used a bottle so thank God he took it fine while I was away! And I’m about to introduce Max to a bottle for the first time, wish me luck!
The Accessories that Make it a Little Easier
I give so much credit to Comotomo for how well Leo handled the sudden need to use a bottle back then! I really think their baby bottles feel the closest to a breast for the baby, so the transition from breast to Comotomo bottles and back is fantastic. I’ve already shared some of my breastfeeding essentials with you before back when I was nursing Leo, and you can see my updated faves in my Amazon shop, but here are a couple of products I want to highlight specifically for you working mamas:
1. Hands-free Pumping Bra
I used one of these when I was pumping for Ryan. I don’t use it for pumping now that I’m home full time with Max and don’t have much need to pump, but it was so useful in that season and I highly recommend it for you out-of-the-home working mamas to make pumping at work a little easier. It’s a lot easier to get work done while pumping if your hands can be free to keep working! The Dairy Fairy Ayla is perfect for this, and makes a great nursing bra too (while still looking cute and feeling like a normal bra!)
2. Hospital-grade pump
I’m actually waiting for insurance to still get me my hospital grade pump, because for me, the Medela Symphony hospital grade pump is the only one that has ever been able to extract the amount of milk I need for my babes. More standard pumps work great for some women, like the Medela Pump In Style or the Spectra S2, but standard ones just never worked for me. So I always rent a hospital grade pump. For any of you moms who are wondering, you can either ask your local hospital about renting one, or you can check out the Pump Station in LA (if you’re not LA local there might be something similar in your area too). Usually insurance will cover this for a mama who needs it!
3. Bamboobies Nursing Pads
Especially in those first few months when the milk supply is at its highest, these nursing pads are great for catching those sudden leaks, or if you’re in a meeting when you normally would be pumping and your body didn’t get the memo haha. They’re so soft and gentle on your sensitive breasts too, and you just throw them in the wash with your clothes and use them again!
Don’t give up, mama!
It’s definitely a struggle to breastfeed. It’s not easy what us moms have to go through. If your goal, like mine, is breastfeeding, then you will find a way to make it happen. Just look at my friend who literally pumped for two years of her life! I know it was hard for her and she struggled so much, but it was her goal to breastfeed her daughter as long as she did and she found a way to do it. It is going to get hard. It is harder for working moms for sure, but I’m here to tell you it’s totally doable! If breastfeeding is a goal of yours, do not give up! You got this, mama!
Are you a breastfeeding working mom? What has been the biggest struggle for you?