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Trying to keep nursing going in the workplace

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We found out we were pregnant shortly after I had accepted a job traveling. I had given notice and I didn’t want to look back. As the pregnancy progressed, my husband and I took a good look at our income and decided one of us could stay home with our beautiful bundle of joy. We made the same amount of money but he hated doing what he was doing and I loved my job. In a state of complete ignorance, I agreed that he would stay home and I would continue to work after my maternity leave. When my daughter was born, it was easy to say she was a natural when it came to nursing. She loved it, it was easy, and she was getting the best nutrition money can’t buy. She was a good eater and I seemed to have ample milk while I was home with her. With one exception, she couldn’t be in a room with other people and eat; she became way too distracted. As soon as she could move her head to look at voices, she did. I nursed alone so that she would eat. I almost never nursed in public because she couldn’t eat and stare at the pretty baubles or listen to voices at the same time.

At seven weeks, we decided to introduce a bottle so that the transition would be easier. I started to pump, and then my husband tried to feed her. We learned some lessons quickly. I couldn’t be within sight, hearing or smell or she wouldn’t eat. She would then only eat after a solid twenty minutes of crying. If I could hear her crying about eating, I would immediately let down and soak everything I was wearing. We all got it at about 10 weeks, just in time for me to return to work.

And then the nursing nightmare really got ugly. I couldn’t make enough milk anymore. I had to pump 8 times a day and got half the milk she needed to keep growing. I tried everything: fenugreek, really hoppy beer, mother’s milk tea. The pumps hurt my breasts so much that they were continually raw. None of my clients had nursing rooms where I could pump so I often pumped in my car in a garage in the most private place I could find. I was pumping milk in a garage in Marietta, GA for three months. Sometimes my meetings would go all day and I couldn’t get away to pump which made me dry up more and hurt worse than about anything I had ever felt. Planes were often seriously delayed and I couldn’t pump while in the airport because I had packed everything except the frozen milk and my laptop. More than once I told my husband to let my daughter stay hungry so I could nurse as soon as I met them at our home airport. She ended up liking the bottle more and after 6 months I made the heart-wrenching decision to stop nursing altogether.

3 comments so far...

  • I only nursed my baby when I was with him after I went back to work when he was 3 months old. I was only able to continue for a few months like this, but I really didn't want to spend extra time at work pumping and taking my pump back and forth between home, my office and the client office I worked at sometimes. He took a bottle fine, but did not like the pumped milk the few times I did pump for him. I've talked to other women who have done this and they were able to nurse a lot longer than me. I was glad that I nursed him for 5 months.

    I remember seeing a woman in Air Force fatigues (camouflage) at one of my meetings pumping in the bathroom. I was really impressed and went and found her the key to one of my company's mother's rooms.


    Flag as inappropriate Posted by AmyE on 13th November 2007

  • I too had problems pumping at work, and we ended up supplementing with formula for one or two bottles a day. It's not a crises if that happens and it let me continue nursing for 2 years until I stopped for medical reasons and also was tired of it.But I stopped pumping after a year and was overjoyed about it. I had an understanding officemate but our door didn't lock which made things awkward occasionally.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by EmilyM on 12th October 2007

  • Arwen, thank you for sharing this. I had a lot of issues pumping at work when my daughter was little, but reading this, I think I didn't have it as tough as I thought. (On of my colleagues - yes, a man, of course - did ask me once how things were going at the cow farm in my office, but I assume that's part for the course in a male dominated industry where I worked.:)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Nataly on 11th October 2007