If you are a working mom you most likely were sent or saw this article published in The Atlantic: Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. It has been a hot read with over 75,000 shares on Facebook and was the most trafficked article in history for The Atlantic. There is a reason why this article resonates with so many women, evoking passion and anger about the challenges with trying to “have it all”. The article is long, but a great read.
The author, Anne-Marie Slaughter, asks “Has the older generation of feminists sold younger generation a fiction?” The answer is yes. The older generation of powerful and strong women have paved the way for young women today to blaze the trail of upper management and executive leadership, but weren’t explicit that in order to get that you’d have to put family time on the back burner. Many of us who are really ambitious and career oriented struggle with actually saying we want to be home with our kids. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to work, many of us do, we need a balance of both.
When you head back to work on your first day, you’ll likely have one extra bag with you — a bag with your breastpump! You arrive thinking all you need is your equipment, ice pack and storage bags or bottles. Think again! Here is a list of what to pack in your breast pump bag from someone who more than once was caught without something I needed:
- Breastpump and accessories: this seems obvious but make sure to double check that you have everything before you leave for work
- Paper towels: there will be all sorts of drips and drops that you’ll want to catch so they don’t mess up your clothes
- Cleaning wipes: medela sells some breastpump “quick clean” wipes for your equipment. A must if you don’t have a sink where you pump
- A sharpie! Important if you are pumping into bags or containers that you will store, make sure to date each one.
- Frozen ice pack: don’t forget to put in the freezer the night before! No one wants to put their breastmilk in the work refrigerator.
- Nursing cover or shall: on a normal day you won’t need this, but those few times you have to pump on the go (yes, I have pumped while driving in the car on the way to a meeting) you’ll wish you had it
- Extra breast milk storage bags: just incase you have to stay longer than you thought, you want extra storage containers on hand
- Hands free nursing bra: you’ll be upset if you forget this! The nursing bra is essential for a productive or at least entertaining pumping session (you can use your hands to check email, read, make calls, etc…)
Here are other tips in terms of making time for pumping at work:
- Schedule time on your calendar to pump. That way no one will book meetings back to back and not allow you a 30 minute break to pump.
- In a long meeting, don’t be shy to speak up and say you need a 15 minute break. People who know you ‘re pumping will respect it and for those who don’t, everyone appreciates a break in a several hour meeting.
- Plan ahead. This is the single biggest bit of advice. Look at your calendar to know when you will pump based on your schedule. Sometimes you’ll need to pump 45 minutes earlier than you would have because of meetings.
I am quite busy at work and usually have several meetings a day, sometimes all day meetings. I have always found time to pump you just have to plan ahead and make it a priority. One more thing to manage I know, but totally worth it.
Another mom in my mommy & me class recommended this new feeding nipple from Medela. Her son wouldn’t take a bottle and she only had 2 days before she had to return to work — in desperation she tried this nipple and it worked upon first try! I haven’t personally tried this nipple yet, but it sure looks more like a real breast shape and her rave review would make me try it if Archer ever has issues taking a bottle.
Amazon.com: Medela Calma Breastmilk Feeding Nipple: Baby.
For those of us who plan to return to work and who are breastfeeding, we will need to make sure our babies can feed heartily from a bottle before we return back to work. That means getting our little bundles of joy to not only accept a silicone nipple over our luscious nipples, but we also have to get them to accept being fed by someone other than us. This isn’t always easy, depends on the baby really. Some have no problem while others protest. Archer was somewhere in the middle.
Experts say that breastfed babies shouldn’t be introduced to a bottle before 4 or 6 weeks or until baby has established a proper latch. Once you introduce the bottle to the baby, you should give the baby a bottle (of breastmilk) once every few days to help baby practice and learn. I delayed giving a bottle until around 8 weeks. Mainly because I was too lazy to start the whole process and I also was emotionally adjusting to the first man-made object being put in my babies mouth. Dramatic maybe, but you just wait and see how you feel.
Here are tips that I read about and what ended up working for us:
- Don’t try to introduce the bottle when your baby is really hungry. This might be contrary to what you might think, but hungry babies has less patience to figure out a new way to get their food. Try to introduce the bottle at the tail end of a feeding session or an hour earlier than the baby would normally eat. We did this and found a lot of success by offering the bottle after I breastfed Archer on one breast, giving the bottle for the second half of his feeding.
- The books say have someone other than you needs to give the baby the bottle. Father, grandmother, caregiver, etc… We tried that several times, but Archer wouldn’t take the bottle from Donavan. So I ended up feeding him his first bottle after breastfeeding him a bit and he took it from me. After just a few minutes of him taking the bottle from me, I had Donavan come over and take over the rest of the feeding. It worked! Archer from then on took a bottle from Donavan.
- The position baby is held in matters. Some must be in same position and place in the house where you breastfeed, others need opposite. Archer always is placed in his boppy lounger to eat.
- Use nipples that resemble the real thing. choose a nipple that has a wide base and have low flow (small hole). We used Dr. Browns wide neck bottles and loved them. Some people find that they leak, but we didn’t have that issue.
- To get baby to latch on to rubber nipple use the same techniques of rubbing their lips and letting a few drops of milk drip onto their mouth. Your baby should open wide and try to latch just like on the breast.
- Make sure milk in the bottle is room temperature or warm and warm nipple under faucet. This really helped us at first with Archer, much easier to get him to feed when the milk wasn’t cold and the nipple warm.
Once Archer started taking the bottle from Donavan we were set and I was relieved. For every caregiver that now needs to give Archer a bottle, we always make sure Donavan or I are there to help with the transition. Once Archer takes a bottle from someone one time he has no issue doing it again, just at first it might be a little difficult.
Hope you found this helpful! Share your stories on what worked for you or what challenges you had.
If you’re a working mom committed to breast feeding when you go back to work, I recommend investing in the top of the line breast pump. I don’t know of anyone who has a breast pump that isn’t Medela branded. They seem to be the leader in this category.
They have several options, but the two most common are the Pump in Style and the Freestyle. The main difference between the two is the Pump in Style must be plugged in while you pump and it comes in a large bag which you can’t remove it from while the Freestyle is cordless, you charge it over night, so you can take it anywhere with you and can pump anywhere — no outlet needed. Of course the Freestyle ($350) is about $100 more expensive than the Pump in Style ($250), but in my opinion it’s worth every penny if you’re a working mom who will be using it up to 4 times a day, 15 minutes at a time.
Several friends of mine bought the cheaper Pump in Style and wished they bought the Freestyle. I took their advice and so should you! You can also keep using it for all your kids so you can think of it as an investment.
Freestyle® Breastpump | Medela.
Once milk is thawed you must use in 24 hrs do not refreeze. If milk is warmed you must use, you can’t refrigerate and reuse. If a bottle isn’t finished and there’s still milk in the bottle, you’re supposed to toss it. I usually just refrigerate and reuse the same day, otherwise I toss.
If you are unsure if milk is spoiled or not you can smell it, it will spell like spoiled milk (sour smell) or you can taste it. If it’s not sweet, but tangy and foul tasting it’s bad. Still unsure, offer it to your baby. If it’s bad they won’t eat it — mother nature is pretty smart that way! Twice when my husband tried to feed Archer a bottle he rejected them, we didn’t understand why and only when we tasted the milk realized it had gone bad. We’re not sure how it went bad… but it did and Archer knew better than us.