Bringing home the bacon...I mean breastmilk
Are you a new mama, soon-to-be mama, or one-day-will-be-mama who breastfeeds your baby and works outside of the home?
My most important piece of advice would be to set your pumping schedule and DO NOT feel guilty about sticking to it.
Even if it means you have to dial into a meeting from your pumping location rather than sitting in the conference room with your colleagues, or if it means you have to take a lunch/pump break every day at the same time no matter what.
Easy enough right? Well…Maybe.
But for me, its been tough.
The journalist in me still shows up to work every day -- fully fired up, and ready to dominate and deliver. But the nursing mama in me is like…um…excuse…have a seat...several seats. It’s time to pump.
And that inner conflict paired with physical consequences is something I don’t think I was prepared for.
I’ve learned the hard way, that if I am going to continue this breastfeeding journey while working a physically and mentally demanding, sometimes emotionally draining, and time consuming job (that I LOVE) I am going to have to make sacrifices at work, to make sure my body can continue to produce milk for our little Savvy.
I’m blessed to work for supervisors who understand how difficult, yet necessary it is to try to find a balance and they have been giving me the space to do that.
But working in an industry where deadlines are steadfast, and breaking news takes priority and can completely change the track of your day, it’s been hard to stick to my pumping schedule, and even more hard to say “No. I’m sorry, I can’t take on that task, I have to pump.”
The desire to perform above and beyond at work, all the while performing above and beyond at home (which looks different for everyone) can cause us to go from feeling like Superwoman to feeling we’ve been hit by a bus IF we do not take care of ourselves and set boundaries.
The reality is that something has to give a little…and that “something” can evolve and change over time, but something has to give. And Right now, for me and my family – its more important for me to bring home the breast milk, than it is for me to bring home the bacon.
Not that I ever really brought home much bacon – because well, I’m a journalist -- ha, but you get me.
Postponing or skipping pumping sessions occasionally is no big deal. However, when it becomes a pattern, it can turn into a health concern. We’re talking blocked milk ducts and even mastitis.
OUCH. OUCH. OUCH.
And I’m speaking from experience.
In this picture, my makeup is done because I’m just getting home from work (trust, I don’t always look this fab while nursing haha) and I’m smiling like oh yeah…Life’s so great, this is so easy, just call me Jas Glam Nursing Mama Barbie -- ha!
But in reality, I was smiling with gratitude because Savannah FINALLY latched again.
You see, 3 or 4 days prior to this were nothing short of an insane emotional roller coaster paired with intense pain and sickness.
At work, I allowed abrupt schedule changes and steadfast deadlines to take precedence over pumping.
By the end of the week I was SICK. Feverish, nauseous, and dizzy -- for days. Not to mention, engorged breasts, clogged ducts, and a sweet baby girl who couldn’t/wouldn’t latch, and when she did, wasn’t getting much out.
Angel Baby was frustrated, confused, and even flat out refused the nip twice!
Heartbroken. Angry. Exhausted. Sad. DETERMINED.
I was reading, calling lactation consultants, watching YouTube videos, calling my doctor, calling my mama, texting my girls, taking countless hot showers…applying warm compresses, cold compresses, pumping, pumping, pumping, leaning on my husband heavily, forcing myself to take it easier at work.
And thank God….After several days, she latched again.
I’ve never been more thankful for our freezer supply of milk. (I pumped during maternity leave in preparation for times like this – advice from my good friend and mama I admire – Kim.) So while I was struggling to get ahead of the Mastitis, hubs was able to feed Sav from our supply.
If you do not have a freezer supply, please know it is okay to supplement with formula! Fed is best. Do whatever you have to do to feed your little one, and in doing so, be kind to yourself.
For me, this working while nursing journey has been hard, but rewarding and worth it.
For some, it may not be hard at all, for others, it may be impossible for any number of reasons.
Whatever your reality is, please know we are in this together! And we celebrate the small victories and we walk in grace through the rough patches.
Here’s a little more info about Mastitis:
www.KellyMom.com is one of my FAVORITE mama websites – I’ve spent many a late nights pillow talking with Kelly (read: frantically googling and reading the KellyMom website) ha
LaLeche League – free breastfeeding advice and support. They have constultants and meet ups all over the nation…Big cities, small towns…everywhere, and if you can’t get to a meeting, they provide contact info, you can call and talk to a trained breastfeeding consultant for free https://www.lllusa.org/locator
Mastitis/Clogged duct tips:
I’m no medical expert, but honey, I tried EVERYTHING – Here are a few things that worked for me:
-Several warm showers throughout the day/night
-Warm compresses on the engorged breast before pumping…the heat helps unclog the ducts
-Ice cold compress on the engorged breast after pumping…the ice helps with inflammation, swelling and pain
-Pump pump pump…it will be painful physically and emotionally, you will be pumping and prob not even getting 1 ounce of milk. But stick with it.
-if you have a vibrating electric toothbrush, use the base to massage the area where you feel the blockage
-Ibprofen will help with pain and inflammation
-Rest, rest, rest!