Happy International Women’s day!
In this post, I will be talking about something specific to women -mothers in particular: breastfeeding. I had a lot of anxiety, trials and tribulations when it came to breastfeeding my baby. It took a lot of practice, and for some reason, the process and all the transitions were very confusing to me. My personal goal was to breastfeed for 6 months. Maybe writing about my experience here can help someone else in the future.
Figuring out breastfeeding
Both my baby and I had a very difficult time in the first few days. The hospital lactation consultant sent us home with some extra stuff to help us out. Baby didn’t really eat the first couple days. Once we were shown how to supplement baby through syringe tubes and droppers, they let us go home, but the first 10 days were extremely stressful. Because baby wasn’t gaining weight, we had more frequent check ups, and a few 1-on-1 appointments with lactation consultants.
Thankfully, I have an awesome coworker that reached out and let me know about breastfeeding support groups in my area (totally free, no strings attached). I was very hesitant to go, at first, and really didn’t want to drive anywhere. But I am really glad I did. Seeing other moms dealing with some of the same things made me feel less crazy. And the scale that helped us figure out how many ounces of milk baby was drinking was also helpful. The combination of all of these people helped me to deal with my extreme emotions about why things weren’t going great, and more importantly, helped me work toward solutions and strategies instead of getting worried and upset about our slow progress.
In those first few weeks, I was totally not prepared for the crazy schedule. I know baby class tried really hard to prepare us, and I heard what they said, but I was definitely not prepared. Specific to breastfeeding – baby needs to eat every 2-3 hours for the first several weeks-months. That sounds pretty straighforward, right? What I didn’t realize was that baby could take 20-30 minutes….per side… per feeding……. That is a LOT of time. And NOT a lot of time in between. That was the hardest part for me. But after the first month or so things got a lot better. The feedings got a lot shorter, and the interval between feedings got a little longer (especially at night, which meant more sanity for me, yay!)
Fast forward to work
Going back to work full time right away was a big change, and at three months my baby was still eating every 2-3 hours during the day. It was important for me to not miss one of those “feedings” because I new that consistency was important for supply. I gave up working out in the morning (my normal workout time) for the first few months after going back to work. I would breastfeed baby right before leaving for work, and then again about 2.5 hrs later (mid-morning). Then again at lunch, and again in the afternoon before I left for the day. Then I would rush back home after work to get one feeding in early evening, and then again at bedtime. I did this for 3-4 months until I was getting substantially less per pumping session than I was originally. Then I went to two sessions at work during the day. Oh how wonderful it was to get my lunchtime with friends back!!! This went on for several months until I was again producing a lot less. I went down to one session at work, but that didn’t last too long. Eventually the only time I was breastfeeding was first thing in the morning and right before bed. We made it to 10 months before breastfeeding rather abruptly ended for us.
Pumping place a.k.a lactation room (have a backup plan)
It was refreshing for me to learn that my law (can’t remember if it was nation, state or local), said that any employer having more than 50 employees is required to provide a place to pump. It cannot be a restroom. Unfortunately, even some of my male coworker friends with kids whose wives pumped assumed the bathroom was the go-to place. I found it very useful to immediately say to anyone who suggested it (even whose intentions were the best) “would you prepare your lunch in the workplace/public restroom?; this is lunch for my infant”.
Personally, I was provided a very comfortable space. Only twice did that close and lock the area where the room was without telling me to go out to lunch for the next hour and a half. It was acceptable to me (although not ideal) to go down to my car and plug in my adapter to pump in these instances. I did have a kinda dark parking garage to go into, and there was no one that really would have seen me. I can imagine this would be very distressing to me if I had taken public transportation or had my car in a busy area.
Babies grow, time flies
Looking back, I am very proud of the journey. It has some gnarly challenges, but it was so beautiful and well worth all the tears and pain. I would do it all over again.