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Making It Work

Creative Solutions

From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 11 No. 6, November-December 1994, pp. 179-80

We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time.

"Making It Work" is a regular feature of the magazine NEW BEGINNINGS, published bimonthly by La Leche League International. In this column, suggestions are offered by readers of NEW BEGINNINGS to help mothers who wish to combine breastfeeding and working. Various points of view are presented. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's lifestyle. This information is general in nature, and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise.

Situation

I find it difficult to impossible to pump my breasts or manually express milk, even in the comfort of my own home. I know that some women have found creative ways to return to work and maintain their milk supply without doing either and without using an artificial feeding product. How do they do it?

Response

I was fortunate to be able to bring my baby to work with me during the first few months following maternity leave. However, as Taylor approached the middle of her first year, it became apparent that the only way I was going to get any work done was to arrange childcare. Although she still accompanied me to work whenever things were slow, most days she went to the sitter's.

Like you, I had little success expressing milk. Therefore, it was imperative to arrange childcare very close to my office, allowing me to get to my baby quickly. Another important step was to negotiate a flexible schedule with my employer so I could go to my baby for feedings in lieu of pumping at the office.

Every morning, I'd leave home early to ensure at least thirty minutes of nursing time at the sitter's. After working three hours, I nursed Taylor twice over my lunch break, once upon arrival and again before leaving. I'd either pack a lunch or stop at a sandwich shop on the way so I could eat at the sitter's. My childcare provider would call me mid-afternoon when Taylor was hungry (usually about three hours after lunch), and I'd go to nurse her. This mid-afternoon break took about half an hour. Unless there was urgent business, I'd usually return to the office with my baby during the last two hours of the day.

To maintain my milk supply and to compensate emotionally for our time apart, it was essential to allow Taylor unlimited access to the breast when I wasn't at work. For us, this meant having Taylor sleep in our bed, nursing and nuzzling throughout the night. Evenings and weekends, I wore her in a front carrier while I did the housework and took her with me everywhere. Although exhausting, the effort was well worth it as I was able to nourish her completely with breast milk. I admire your determination to combine working and breastfeeding. With some imagination and planning, I'm sure you will find solutions that work for you.

Jaqui Freund
Spring TX USA

Response

My second child refused to drink from a bottle, so even though I have never had difficulties expressing milk, doing so was never an option. I was lucky to work for an understanding woman so I brought my baby to work with me until he was nine months old. We child-proofed my area of the office, and my baby spent a lot of time in a sling or on my back while I worked. Though I set up a crib in the corner of the office, he was not a baby who slept long or often enough to use it. When my son was old enough to drink from a cup, I temporarily rearranged my work schedule so I could spend fewer hours away from him while he became used to his baby-sitter. Now, at age two, although he nurses avidly on the days we are home together, he spends three full days each week with a baby-sitter. I find that my milk supply adjusts to his irregular schedule, though I do make up for this with a lot of nighttime nursing.

I get paid by the hour; and I found that as long as I was scrupulous about only charging for the hours I was actually working, nobody felt shortchanged by my nursing. I also found it helpful to take as much work as possible home with me.

Another possibility is to find someone who would bring the baby to the office for nursing. Good luck.

Theresa Beyer
New Rochelle NY USA

Response

Here is how I went back to work without pumping milk. Fortunately, I was able to arrange a six month maternity leave after each of my pregnancies. Both my children drank water or juice from a sippy-cup by then and eventually enjoyed other foods provided by my caregivers. Convincing caregivers that the babies were getting enough "food" without bottles was a challenge. In the end, though, they were very supportive of my decision to ensure my babies received enough breast milk by taking them to bed with me and nursing them almost continually throughout the night.

I loved the nighttime closeness with my nurslings. My youngest child is now two years old and still loves to nurse. Getting enough sleep is a challenge, but I've learned to go to sleep when my nursling does, take naps on the weekend whenever possible, and get lots of help from my husband. My oldest child is now seven years old. He nursed for many years this way, and I survived the lack of sleep.

Andrea Worthington
Niskayuna NY USA

Last updated Thursday, October 19, 2006 by njb.
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