26.Aug.2016 Work and Breastfeeding

So many of the moms who birth with us return to work while breast feeding. I thought I’d chat with someone who has first hand experience of breastfeeding and working.

TaraMeet Tara. Tara nursed both of her children. She also worked. With her second baby, Tara started a new job in her sixth month of pregnancy. By the time she gave birth, she didn’t have any leave accrued. She hadn’t even yet had her three month review. “Fortunately, I have a very supportive supervisor.”

Tara took 10.5 weeks off work. She then worked half time for three more weeks. Then she was back to 40 hours a week of work. Tara was able to nurse and provide pumped breast milk for over a year and a half.

Here are her tips:

  • Tara nursed early and often when her baby was born to build up her supply
  • She tried not to stress. Tara pumped maybe every 24-48 hours during the end of her leave to build up 5 days of frozen milk.
  • Because she had pumped before, Tara knew she would pump more milk each day at work than her baby would eat.
  • Pumping kept her milk supply up. At work Tara pumped once in the morning and once in the afternoon. She was able to nurse her daughter during the lunch break. At time, she would pump once at night. Over the course of the day, she pumped 16-20 ounces.
  • She had multiple pumps — one for work and one for home. That way she didn’t have to fuss with packing and moving the pump.
  • Tara swears by Mother’s Milk Tea. She just loves the taste. In fact, her whole family drinks it.
  • She particularly loves the Spectra pump “S2”.  She says it felt the closest to nursing of any pump she has used.
  • Eating well was important (but harder with the second baby).

Tara had enough pumped and frozen milk that she stopped pumping at work after about 10 months.  She continued to breastfeed during lunch and nurse at home and on the weekends. Even though she is an expert pumper, Tara doesn’t enjoy pumping. If she could have pumped at her desk while working it would have made it easier for her. And she really didn’t enjoy having to wash the pump parts. (Here is a great place you design engineers could improve the lives of women and babies!).

One thing that was especially key for Tara was knowing her legal rights.  Having that information helped her approach her employer to set up a system that worked for her. The information also helped her advocate for herself in her relationship with her husband and her family. People we love become supportive of our breastfeeding as we do it but we often must advocate for ourselves in the beginning.

Tara says that her own stubbornness made it possible to feed her babies breast milk while working. But once she knew her rights, she was able to communicate her goals with her employer, her day care, and her family. And they all helped her reach her goals.





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