by Wendy Kaufman
(Central PA, USA)
Visitor Working and Breastfeeding Story: The first 3 months with my son were sheer bliss. I nursed him on demand, and he never had a bottle. Our bond grew strong, and I was absolutely smitten with this little boy that I waited so many years to have.
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Then, reality set in. I had to return to work. I am fortunate that my parents agreed to care for my son while I work, and they are very supportive of my decision to breastfeed, but it still broke my heart to leave him.
At first, I was very afraid of harming our breastfeeding relationship, so I returned to work 3 days a week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I then added in Saturday, and then, after about 9 months, I eventually went back full time, but kept an amended schedule that allowed me to have Wednesday off and work Saturday instead so I wouldn’t be away 5 days in a row.
I found that pumping in the middle of my day reconnected me with my son and relieved a bit of the pain of being so far away from him. Making him my focus for the time it took to pump eased a little of my guilt because I knew it meant I was still giving him my best.
My company has a lactation room, but it is on a different floor so it takes me a few minutes to get there and back. Nobody has ever challenged me on taking the time to pump, but I did feel guilty quite often when I had to pump twice a day.
Luckily, I only had to do that for a short time and now I only pump once, and I can do it on my break. I always make sure to pump before work and then nurse immediately after work, so one midday pumping session usually suffices and yields about 8 ounces.
If I had to work in another session, however, I would. There is nothing important enough at work to make me jeopardize my milk supply if push came to shove.
My son is 14 months old now, and we are still nursing. The only issue I run into now is getting odd looks and the occasional question from people who see me with a pump and ask if I am still nursing, as if they can’t understand why. I haven’t had to fire back too much yet, but I’m ready. Let ’em challenge me. I’ve got lots of answers just waiting for them.
I am a bit tired of lugging around my pump after a whole year, but I do carry it with pride in my office. I try to think I might be showing others that it is possible to pump and nurse long-term.
Many moms have come and gone in our lactation room, but most only last a short time. I am never sure whether I should feel annoyed or really happy when I knock on the door and find it occupied!
So, in short, after a full year of working and pumping, I am very proud of my accomplishments. I treasure my days at home with my son, but I’m very thankful for both my breast pump and my briefcase.