Two years ago when I had my son, I was determined to make breastfeeding work. I heard about all of the great benefits through friends, baby books and doctors. I knew that my maternity leave would be fairly short and along with figuring out breastfeeding, I planned to pump as well. Well, both breastfeeding and pumping came with lots of surprises – some good and some bad!
I am pregnant again and due in June, and I am contemplating what will work best the second time around.
The question I keep asking myself – will my 12 weeks of maternity leave be sufficient for breastfeeding? Or will I resume the torture, headache and embarrassment that came with pumping in the workplace?!
When my son was born, I was so nervous to try breastfeeding. I remember many tips I received from friends – all were conflicting pieces of advice! “Whatever you do, NEVER supplement.” “Absolutely, no pumping the first month.” “Pump, as soon as you can in the hospital.” “Never give a breastfeeding baby a pacifier.” The one piece of advice I did try to follow was not to supplement because I was scared it would cause nipple confusion.
The first few days in the hospital were wonderful. Our little boy seemed content and breastfeeding seemed very natural. However, the last few nights, our boy cried and cried. When he received his checkout exam and was down a pound, I will never forget the doctor coming in with the meanest face and telling me “Your baby is absolutely starving. You need to feed him.” I felt so guilty, confused and had no idea what to think.
Our first night home was absolutely miserable. When we took him to the pediatrician the next day, the doctor calmed all my fears. He said that the baby was hungry and that supplementing in the beginning or going forward was absolutely fine. For some reason, that single conversation took all of the guilt away. After that, I would nurse and sometimes, not always, give my baby the 2 oz. nursettes when needed. I did this for a few weeks and then didn’t need to do it at all.
Once my milk came in, everything seemed so natural and perfect – and I have to admit, I absolutely loved breastfeeding.
Now to address pumping…
Everything about pumping is horrible – the machine, the suction, the time consumption, the cleaning, the pain and the visual of the procedure! To make matters worse, after all of that work you are left with a measly ounce or two when you first start. I honestly do not know why any friends of mine would exclusively pump because it was nothing short of pure torture in my opinion.
When you buy a pump – you envision beautiful, flowing milk that is available for your baby. Instead, I found it to be a lot of work with little satisfaction. BUT, I was going back to work after 11 weeks, and I still wanted our baby to have the best – pure breast milk from his mommy.
I work on Wall Street and after 14 years at two major banks, I found myself working at a small firm with less than 50 people when I had my baby. What does that mean? Basically, when you work for a small company, they do not have to follow any of the state mandated guidelines for maternity leave, lactation rooms, etc.
Before I came back to work, I asked my boss if I could use one of the offices to pump in. I worked on the trading floor and there were several empty rooms that I could have used. He called me back and said ,
“No, since we have less than 50 people – we don’t have to provide you with a room. You can do it in the bathroom.” I was appalled. Our bathroom was tiny with two stalls, no lids on the toilets and unsanitary in my opinion. So that meant my only option was pumping in the open – with NO PRIVACY.
There were a total of four women in my office, so I asked all of them if I could put a little post-it note on the door with a smiley face when I was in there. They all said it would be no problem. Well, let’s just say that post-it note was a “sign” for ridicule from the men in the office.
Shall I list a few comments from some of the men? “I heard a cow being pumped in the bathroom.” “Oooh, sounds like someone had some good vibration in there.” “Anyone need some milk?” And then there were all of the imitation buzzing and mooing noises the guys would constantly make as they walked by me later when I was sitting on the desk. Of course, being a “tough” girl working on the trading floor – I laughed off all of these comments. But truthfully, it was mortifying.
After about a month, the sticky notes got old and the women would just knock, and I would say to come on in. That is when things got even weirder with one woman. She would stare at me and one time asked me with a big smile “Does it tickle?” There were a few other comments that were really bizarre, I can’t even remember, but I remember being uncomfortable and blushing!
Eventually, my milk supply decreased week by week. But I was able to give my son breast milk for 5 full months. I was proud of myself and wish I could have done it longer. Now that I work at a big bank again, I THINK there is a lactation room somewhere in the building. I still have not looked. I also assume it is professional, clean and nice. But I wonder if the 12 weeks of breastfeeding will be sufficient for my new little baby. Will I have it in me to pump at work this time around?
Do you have a pumping/breastfeeding/formula feeding story to share?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Wall Street Mama in New Jersey, USA.
Photo credit to the author.