Thursday, September 20, 2007

Breastfeeding while working

A commenter in the Feministe thread on Bill Maher doesn't think she will be able to exclusively nurse and work full time.

I thought I'd open a post for people to post their tips for working and nursing.

I worked from when Oceanus was 5.5 weeks old until he was 2. He was nursed exclusively - no formula whatsoever. I'll admit that I had an edge - Mr. Gaia was a SAHD and was able to bring the baby to me during lunch hours and occasional breaks. But a mother who has childcare reasonably close to her office could accomplish the lunch hour fairly easily. And I ended up dumping over 200 ounces of breastmilk by the end of our nursing relationship.

Here's how I did it. I realized that pumping was difficult and sucked, so I turned to my LLL friends for tips. The BEST tip I got was to pump while the baby was nursing. Nurse on one side and pump on the other. And to start this fairly early (about 3 weeks for me) so the baby would get used to the sound of the pump.

When I pumped at work to relieve engorgement, I would get maybe 1 ounce in 15 minutes. When I pumped while nursing, I would get 5 ounces in about 10 minutes. The letdown caused by the baby worked in my favor. So, I would pump a couple of times a day at work to relieve engorgement and then pump a couple of times at home and have enough to carry him for the 2 feedings he would need while I was at work.

I also took advantage of a natural tendency of some babies to "reverse-cycle". He cut way back on his feedings during the day (2 or so for 8 hours) and increased them when I was home (every 1-2 hours for the first part of the night).

I also co-slept. I know this is considered controversial and I understand the controversy - but let me point out that most adults know where the edge of the bed is even while they are asleep and don't roll out of bed. If you do roll out of bed - DON'T co-sleep without safety gear (a bassinet for the bed or a side-car, for instance). And it should go without saying that you should never co-sleep without safety gear if you are taking sleeping pills or drinking. What co-sleeping did for me was to allow me to nurse the baby while I slept with no worries about falling asleep in the chair and dropping him.

I know a lot of people who have worked and exclusively nursed. Please share your tips so we can help wishy-washy.


Grace said...

I went back to work when my baby was 6 weeks old and breastfed her for 18 months--enough to get her through her first two flu seasons. In that time, she had soy formula a handful of times.

We coslept with the baby between the two of us. I breastfed while half asleep.

In Asia, that is considered normal and not at all controversial. SIDS is no more common (possibly less common) in Asia than in the west, where cosleeping is not the norm.

My employer provided a private office and a hospital-grade pump as long as I was breastfeeding. Some mothers kept it up for 3 years because of the perk.

We were also provided Medela home pumps at wholesale and the services of a lactation consultant through our company. (Gotta love working at a nonprofit.)

After my baby stopped feeding in the middle of the night, I continued to get up and pumped while she slept. If she woke up, I gave her the expressed milk. If she did not wake up, the milk went to daycare with her the next day, along with what I expressed at work the day before.

Jules said...

I nursed & co-slept & I wouldn't trade those memories for the world...or that sleep!:)

Grace said...