My recent post “Impossibly French?” got me thinking about breastfeeding, nursing, and working. I nursed my daughter for 13 months while simultaneously working full time and attending law school part time. I know, I know, I’m still waiting for my medal.
But, sarcasm aside, I am sometimes asked the inevitable “how did you do it” kind of questions, the kinds of questions I remember swirling around my head in the last months of my pregnancy as I was gripped by the panic of “oh my god how WILL I do it?” At the time, I didn’t know ANYONE who also worked full time and nursed, and it was something that I desperately wanted to do.
So here for you are some resources that I found invaluable in my quest to be the UBER nursing/working mom:
- BOOK: Nursing Mother Working Mother. This is THE tome on the mechanics of “how do you do this” when you want to nurse and also work. It’s a bit preachy, bordering on granola-hippy-crunchy in tone, but if you can get past that you’ll find it can give you a helpful crash course on the basics.
- PUMP: Medela Pump In Style, or any of the high-quality Medela dual-electric breast pumps. What can I say, if you’re gonna play, you gotta pay, and the Medelas are worth the price. DO NOT go for second rate on the one thing that will make the whole working mom, nursing mom package doable.
- LOOK MA NO HANDS: Hands Free Pumping Bra. I had the very simple and sturdy Made By Moms Pumping Band (which allowed you to basically stay dressed and just velcro the thing on), but there are a number of styles to choose from. If you are lucky enough to have an office to pump in, with this sexy little number you can check email and keep working while you’re taking your 2-3 20-minute “breaks” to pump. It also helps with pumping while driving, see PUMPING ON THE GO below.
- SUSTENANCE: Oatmeal, my favorite being McCann’s Quick Cooking Irish Oatmeal. For those times when you hit a “dry spell” a bowl of oatmeal (or two) a day can help keep your milk supply up. Seriously. Eat it every day for breakfast and you will provide like Bessie the Cow.
- SUPPORT (of the physical variety): Bravado Nursing Bra. These are by far the BEST nursing bras. I tried the cheaper ones – ladies don’t waste your money. Pony up for 3-4 of these babies and you will be SET – comfort, convenience, and not ugly. What more can you ask for?
- MANUAL PUMP: Avent Isis Manual Pump. For those times when the “whir, whir” noise of the dual-action Medela is just NOT appropriate, and you need to remove some milk NOW, the Avent Isis is the best manual pump out there (like while flying on a plane, seriously!). It helps if your baby likes the Avent bottles (mine did) but I think they do have adapters for other bottles as well (or you could transfer the milk).
- PUMPING ON THE GO: Medela Car Adapter. I literally have pumped while driving from Milwaukee to Madison on I-94, going about 75 mph, for a meeting. I have pumped in parking lots. If you are serious about being a mom who works and also nurses, you have to be prepared to pump wherever, and whenever, you need to.
- FOR FUN: Beer, but talk with your doctor first (the lawyer in me talkin’)! No more than one or two per week, and not within an hour before nursing. The wives tale says an occasional beer can help with milk production. Something to do with yeast, hops, who knows? But it’s great to tell everyone who asks, “It’s for the baby.” Worked for me.
- KEEPING IT COOL. Milk Freezer Bags. You are going to be such a good pumper and you will have SO much milk you’ll need to get one of those standalone freezers … right?! Right. So you need some good freezer bags to store all that milk in.
- SUPPORT (of the emotional variety). Discussion boards for nursing & working mothers. My lifeline was the Working & Pumping Board on iVillage. YMMV. You can always come here, too, and any of the other great boards and blogs for moms who are trying to work & nurse.
It’s a lot, I know, but if you really want to succeed at what can sometimes be a challenging (but very, very rewarding) endeavor, then you need to gear up to make it as easy as possible for yourself.
Just think “mmmmooooo”!