Pregnancy and you blog

Breast-feeding: Support for working moms

By Mary M. Murry, R.N., C.N.M. January 9, 2010

I returned to work six weeks after my daughter was born. No FMLA in those days. I thought I was ready. I had found a good day care. They were willing to work with my frozen breast milk and cloth diapers. In fact, the talk in town was that I was a hippie because I breast-fed and used cloth diapers. I'm sure I've been called worse for less. My biggest worry was that other babies would start crying and I would leak milk all day.

I had a hand-held breast pump, which might seem medieval today. I also had an absolute certainty that I would be able to do this. This was in the days before computers and the Web, so I was ignorant of statistics about poor breast-feeding success rates for working mothers. I pumped during my lunch hour in my shared office, then put the milk in the refrigerator until it was time to go home. I'll always remember the day I sobbed in the parking lot because I'd spilled the bag of liquid gold — my breast milk. I got over it, but I developed a different system for transporting the valuable stuff.

Today you can buy electric pumps that will empty both breasts at the same time. Some employers offer private spaces for breast pumping. Breast-feeding is more common, so there's a bigger community of women to ask for suggestions and advice — both online and in person.

If you're considering breast-feeding after you go back to work, be sure in the knowledge that you can do it. Pumping can be a bother and there may be days you want to throw the pump out the window, but don't throw anything anywhere. Brainstorm ways to make pumping more convenient or less burdensome. There are no rules set in stone, and it's up to you to do the best you can.

Do you have tips or stories about returning to work while breast-feeding? I'd love to read them. Please share your thoughts!

Jan. 09, 2010