Pumping at Work: My 15 Month Journey
My breastfeeding journey started out as indifferent. People asked me if I was planning on breastfeeding and I would say, “I am going to try it.” I figured I would just see what happened. I thought if it worked out, great; if not, that would be okay too. When my son was born, he latched on quickly and easily (though not pain free) and so the adventure began!
I was scared of the breast pump, (no exaggeration). I was scared it would hurt. A couple of friends walked me through it. When I started pumping, I would only get 1-2 ounces per pumping session. How frustrating!
By the time I went back to work, I was pumping around 10-12 ounces a day. When I returned to work, I had access to an empty office where I could pump. I was also able to get a fridge by my desk, where I could store my milk. I usually tried to get a small pumping session before going to work, and one before going to bed as well.
I am not going to lie, in retrospect I think I became a little obsessed (my husband might say, I became very obsessed…), especially when I didn’t have the number of ounces I wanted to pump in a day. I think I took it as a challenge – it was a challenge to get the right number of ounces, and I was determined to reach my goal. For someone who is not competitive at all, I was in competition with myself!
If you are thinking of embarking on this journey, find out what your rights are, according to company policy and according to the law (they vary state to state, and some companies might have more generous policies than the law!). Hopefully you will have a supporting supervisor.
I would also recommend to start pumping and freezing milk, so that if you have one of those bad days where the milk is just not coming out (and you might!… but it will be OK!), you will have an emergency stash. Start building this stash early in your maternity leave. It was also helpful for me to keep extra bottles or milk storage bags at work in case I forgot them (this happened to me on a few occasions!), and have extra pump parts, as well as batteries (you never know!).
I think the most important factor in my success was my support system. Seek out friends who have already been through this! One of my coworkers had pumped when she had her baby, so she was a great resource. I had another friend who was there for me all the time. Whenever I texted her to say, “HELP! It’s not working! I am going to give up!” or anything like that, she would offer advice and words of encouragement. I can honestly say that I would not have lasted as long as I did had it not been for her support.
I am truly lucky because I was able to breastfeed my son for 15 months. As I write this, I still can’t believe it. Would I do it over again? I am not sure. I would definitely try, but I would also try to keep an open mind, that it might not work out the same way the second time around. I am not going to lie, pumping while working is challenging. It is an extra task that you have to commit to every day. It is not only physically tiring, it also takes a toll mentally (and sometimes socially as well!). It is one of those selfless acts that your little one will not even remember…but you’ll be giving your child a gift, and while you’re at it, you’ll save a lot of money and load your kid up with valuable nutrients!
I started my journey being indifferent, and it was a much longer than anticipated rollercoaster ride! Just remember to do your best…you might surprise yourself and surpass your expectations!