Day Eight | Karine's Journey | Breastfeeding into Toddlerhood
My daughters first birthday - What a relief I should say. Since I am a working mom, the biggest change was to stop pumping at work. I could not wait. It didn’t take me very long to wean off the pump. I went from 3 sessions of pumping at work to 2… to 1… and then I finally stopped. It was a huge relief. No more scheduling meetings around pumping time or fighting to get the pumping room - thankfully I work in a place where they were very accommodating so I can’t complain too much.
Now, I just nurse her when she wakes up in the morning, before she goes to bed. And sometimes, or I should say, often, more on the weekends or when we’re together. It’s much more enjoyable now that I don’t have to be hooked up to a machine and count ounces for daycare.
I’m not going to lie it was a rough start at work – not only with leaving my daughter but with learning to pump at work. I didn’t want to go back to work but I had to. When I left on maternity leave I told them that I was going to breastfeed and needed to pump. I was a little bit anxious to have the conversation with HR because I work for a company with mostly males and in all 7 years being here, nobody had made the request.
But I went in confident, knowing that I had the right to request a room other than a bathroom to pump. Colorado law protects the pumping mother for 2 years. The response was amazing. ‘Well, this never happened before but we’re going to do it for you.” By the time I got back from leave, I had a room cleaned up, a brand new rocking chair, fridge and table. They even gave me a Bluetooth speaker and a lamp to keep the room cozy.
Then I moved buildings – dragging the furniture with me. Here, I had to share a room. It became more stressful. But I was committed. Nothing was going to stop me from providing my baby with what was best for her. And I made it. A whole year. Days of counting ounces and dropping off exactly what she needed every day… making sure the daycare was pace feeding baby so she wouldn’t refuse to nurse when I got home… But we made it. It was a huge accomplishment for me. Hats off to all the moms out there who work and pump. I hear you. It’s no fun at all. But it’s doable.
The schedule for pumping wasn’t too hard to figure out. Since I was able to nurse baby at drop off and pick up, I had to pump 3 times at work. It was 10 am, 12:30 pm and 3 pm. Times were blocked on my calendar so people would leave me alone. In order to save time, I would put the pump parts in the fridge in a plastic bag between sessions so I wouldn’t have to clean them at work. I would clean them once a day when I got home. I went through quite a bit of storage bags and ended up liking the Babies R’ Us bags as well as the Lansinoh ones.
When I was pumping I was so done with breastfeeding, I was going to make it to that magic 1-year mark and be done. But when she turned a year, I thought about taking it day by day before making a decision. She’s now 15 months. Our breastfeeding relationship has been much more enjoyable for me, and she’s still interested. So, for now, we’ll continue. I don’t know if I will be the one leading it, or if I will just let her. I just don’t think about it.
At the beginning, most of the people in my life were very accommodating - but I got more comments as we went on. At first you get the “good job for breastfeeding, that’s not easy”, but as baby gets older, it turns into “are you still breastfeeding?”, and then “when are you going to stop?”. I got tired of it. So now my answer is “when she tells me she’s done”. That usually ends the conversation right there.
I’ve had a lot of support along the way and I believe that is part of what makes a breastfeeding journey successful. My husband, my older daughter, even my coworkers have been fantastic. It really makes a difference to have good support around you. Sometimes to get advice and other times just to know someone is in your corner
Biting has been a fairly new struggle, fortunately she doesn’t do it often. I noticed that she does it when she’s done, or when she wants to play with me. That’s her way of getting more of my attention. Knocking on wood, she hasn’t drawn blood yet. But when she does it, my answer is to usually tell her that it hurts me and that she can’t do that to mommy. And then I put everything away.
I don’t think it will have an impact on our relationship, at least for now. And she’s at that age when she can start understanding consequences. So, most of the time she either stops when she wants to nurse more, or don’t mind when she can’t anymore, meaning that she’s done and ready to play anyway.
It is no longer in the cards to participate in an in-person support group. The days where I could leave the house on Wednesday morning to go to a breastfeeding group are gone. I had to stop when I returned to work. But I am part of the Facebook group Badass Breastfeeders and that’s where I get the support I need. There are a lot of knowledgeable moms in there, and also plenty of moms who are going through the same experiences so it’s a nice way of sharing stories.
It’s all about giving back. As I mentioned before, I believe having a support system makes a breastfeeding journey more successful. I’ve learned a lot through the group. And I know for a fact that I would have not made it through some challenges without the support from the group. So, to me it’s perfectly normal to give back, to help moms out there who are struggling. There is a rather large lack of education in lactation in our communities, and often moms do not know who can answer their questions. I am by no means an expert but I can share and help on the basics, and share personal experiences. Hopefully these moms find the group as helpful as I did when I needed it (and I still do from time to time).
How did you handle being a working mom? Was it a relief when you could stop pumping at work? Leave your comment below. If you would like to share your own story, contact me to get started. Be sure you keep following along with these wonderful breastfeeding stories.