mom who works

the joys and challenges of being a working mom trying to find "balance"

nursing mother, working mother June 26, 2009

Filed under: baby & kid gear,food,general — Deborah @ 8:49 am
Tags: , , ,

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.medela pump in style
  • 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 whenMcCann's Quick Cooking Irish Oatmeal 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”!


impossibly french? June 17, 2009

Filed under: family,general — Deborah @ 12:30 pm
Tags: , , ,

All You need to be Impossibly French

I’m reading a fluffy little book titled: “All You Need to Be Impossibly French” by Brit Helena Frith-Powell. I am a real sucker for all those “how to be like the French” books, because as a Midwestern American woman, it seems, at least from the outside, that the French women have it all covered. Work, family, men, clothes, food, beauty, you name it, the French *appear* to do it better.

Some of the later chapters expose some of the darker underbelly to the French mystique however, including the somewhat surprising chapter on breastfeeding. According to the author, French women, as a general rule, don’t breastfeed their babies. Something to do with pleasing their men, a perception of saggy boobs, and weight loss. Granted, the author shows her zeal for nursing in the scorn she heaps upon these “misguided” French women.

This caused me to think about my experiences as a working, nursing mother, which were in turns amazing, difficult, challenging and wonderful. I have never been as proud of something in my whole life as nursing my daughter for 13 months while working full time (and going to law school part time to boot).

I relished the opportunity to spend time with my daughter in the middle of the night (even though like most new parents I was sleep deprived), because that was the only quiet solitude we had together. And they grow up SO fast.

Why breastfeeding is controversial I will never know. There should be nothing LESS controversial than breastfeeding. But unfortunately, there are nursing nazis out there who consider feeding with formula a type of child abuse. Nonsense.

Yet it makes me sad when I see moms who aren’t nursing. I wonder if it’s something they wanted to do but didn’t get the support they needed to get through the rough patches? Are they not able to nurse for medical or other reasons? Or did they just not want to, because, like the protagonists in “Impossibly French” they had concerns about their appearance and sex appeal to their husbands or boyfriends? There could be dozens of reasons a woman doesn’t nurse, and dozens of reasons she does.

Lord knows it is tough enough to be a new mom, without the world (myself included) scrutinizing your every move with a disapproving eye. My words of advice to those would-be nursing nazis is that you will do the “cause” of promoting breastfeeding much better if you keep your opinions to yourself and not harass the poor, sleep deprived mother of an infant.