Sunday, April 24, 2011
Are you breastfeeding and working? Whether you are leaving your baby and stepping back into a suit or juggling working from home it is challenging continuing to breastfeed. I applaud you for wanting to give your baby the very best! You probably already know breast milk is nutritionally far superior to formula with long and short term health, emotional and intellectual benefits for you both. My guess is that is why you have taken on the many challenges which come with this territory.
I have first hand experience at being a working breastfeeding mom. When my son was born I was a professional horse trainer. I had continued to ride until I was almost 7 months pregnant. When I was told it was time to get off my feet I took a chaise lounge to the arena's edge and instructed students from my throne. The day I went into labor I had been helping the vet do lameness exams. In the throes of labor it floated into my consciousness that it was Sunday; I was missing the local horse show. Clutching my husband's hand I whispered I would rather be at the show. After about 2 weeks off I packed my baby up and headed back to the barn. By 5 weeks I was pumping and leaving him home with his dad one day a week having compresssed all my students' riding lessons into one day. That first day I don't know which ached more when I got home to our little Shell Beach home, my arms from longing to hold him, my heart from the separation or my boobs!
My son went to the barn with me 5 days a week until he was about 11 years old. Through teething, weaning, learning to walk, ride a bike, skate board and scooter, homeschooling and more I mothered him in the midst of my professional life. It required patience, flexibility, daring and determination on my part. I guess it required that from Joe as well. It was a conscious choice on both our parts that we wanted to be together. Somehow we made it work for both of us. Every day was different because he was growing and changing, so I was constantly having to shift gears and learn something new; step into unknown mommy territory.
During our breastfeeding stage I didn't know anyone else who was doing what I was doing. I'm sure they were out there but I didn't know them. If I had gone to a La Leche League meeting I could have connected to women who were also blending their career and mommyhood. I sure could have used the ideas and encouragement. Unfortunately I didn't know League existed so I blazed my own trail with my son riding double behind.
Now there is an evening La Leche League meeting which speaks to the specific issues of breastfeeding while working. On the 4th Monday women and their babies are gathering at Santa Lucia Birth Center to share, laugh, decompress and advise one another. In a warm friendly atmosphere important bits of information are passed from woman to woman, such as, which breast pump worked the best for you, how did you work that through with your boss, how has your husband been able to help, or how do you get enough sleep at night to go to work the next day. The conversation is different every time. Although there is a general discussion topic, questions or concerns about anything are always welcome. Of course once you get home from work it may feel insurmountable to go out of the house again. But if you can get yourself to come to just one meeting I think you will find yourself re-energized with good mommy feelings and recommitted to giving your baby the best. Don't forget if you bring the baby Dad gets a night to re-energize too!