Tips For Preparing to Return to Work & Breastfeeding

I’ve been pumping at work since June 2011 and things continue to go well for me. I have a office so I didn’t have to locate a place to pump and I am usually stationed in my office and not traveling to different sites to meetings. My biggest challenge some days is making the time to pump when my days get really busy. I always stop to pump because I don’t want my supply to go down but some days I think I wait a little too late because I start leaking or feeling too heavy.  Now when I know I’m going into a few long meetings I pump early and then pump right after the meetings. On the challenging days mommies, remind yourself that you’re pumping at work for your baby and you can do it!! Take it one day at a time! This pic is of my full Medela bottles after pumping one day in my office. I thought it was a beautiful sight so I took a pic!  I was googling pumping at work and I found a very helpful article on askdrsears.com. I posted the first nine tips of the twenty below. Checkout the article for the rest. Also the website has many other helpful breastfeeding articles. Happy pumping!!

 http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-while-working/20-tips-working-and-breastfeeding

YOUR WEEKS AT HOME

1. Make a commitment. Juggling breastfeeding and working is not easy. There will be days when you wonder if it’s all worth it. You’ll develop a love-hate relationship with your pump. You’ll leak at embarrassing moments, and you may be on the receiving end of less than supportive comments from ignorant co-workers. There will be days when you’re ready to toss in the pump and reach for the formula. Yet, once you make a commitment to continuing to breastfeed, you’ll find a way to do it. If you believe that breastfeeding is important for your baby and for yourself, doing what it takes to continue this beautiful relationship will not seem as difficult. And you’ll enjoy all the practical benefits of nursing your baby full-time when you are together after work and on weekends.You may be worried that nursing and working will be a lot of bother, or friends may have told you about their own difficulties with pumping milk or arranging feeding schedules. Working and caring for a small baby is a juggling act, so you need to think carefully about this choice and how you will manage. If you’re not sure that you want to continue breastfeeding after you return to your job, give it at least a 30-day trial period. This will give you a chance to work out any problems and settle into a mutually rewarding experience for you and baby. Have confidence in yourself. You can do this! 

2. Get connected. To build a solid relationship with your baby, you must banish the “what if’s.” “What if he won’t take a bottle?” “What if she won’t settle down without nursing?” “When I pump milk at home I can pump only a little bit. What if I can’t pump enough milk when I’m back at work?”

  • Don’t let these worries about the future intrude on your enjoyment of your first weeks with your baby. These are legitimate concerns, but at the same time, they are all problems that can be solved. It’s good to plan ahead–but not too much. Don’t let your preoccupation with the day you need to return to work (“W” day) rob you of the joy of those weeks of being a full-time mother. So even if your maternity leave is only a few short weeks, use this time to allow yourself to be completely absorbed by your baby. Think of this time as a “babymoon”-like a honeymoon, with emphasis on establishing a relationship with minimal intrusions. This season of your life will never come again; treasure it while it’s here. (You can organize those closets next year–or five years from now.) Mothering a newborn will absorb all your time. It should. These weeks after birth are when mothers fall in love with their babies. And, as with any love affair, the two of you need time to get to know one another.Will focusing on just being a mother now make it more difficult to leave your baby later? It might. We’ve seen many mothers who had thought they would return to the workplace move heaven and earth in order to stay home longer with their babies. We’ve also seen the payoff for mothers who take the time to really get attached to their babies but who do return to their jobs: they work very hard at maintaining the close relationship with their child. They enjoy their babies more, and the benefits to their children are lifelong. 

3. Get breastfeeding off to a good start. Doing everything you can to make breastfeeding work well in the early weeks is important to breastfeeding success after you return to work. You need to breastfeed early and often to encourage your breasts to produce lots of milk.

The longer you can enjoy this exclusive breastfeeding relationship, the easier it will be to continue when you are back on the job. Use vacation time, or any other time off that is available to you. Consider taking an unpaid leave to stay home longer with your baby, if that is financially possible. (Sacrificing some income at this point in your life could turn out to be the one of the best investments you’ll ever make.) Working only part-time will also simplify breastfeeding. If there is a compelling reason why your baby must receive breast milk, perhaps because of prematurity or allergies, you may be able to prolong your leave time by getting a letter from your doctor.

PLANNING YOUR RETURN

4. Explore your options.Consider these alternatives to spending the entire day away from your baby:

  • Bring your baby to work.
  • Try work and wear.
  • Bring the work to your baby. 
  • On-site day care.
  • Nearby daycare providers.
  • Visits from your baby.
  • Part-time work.

5. Be flexible.Babies have a way of derailing mothers from their pre-planned career track. Expect to change pumps, dresses, caregivers, and even jobs. Try to remain flexible as you plan for your return to work and for how you will continue to breastfeed. Your needs will change and so will your baby’s. If something that worked well a few weeks ago is not working now, change it. Babies have different needs and preferences at different stages.

6. Choose a breastfeeding-friendly caregiver.If you can, make your arrangements for a substitute caregiver while you’re still pregnant, so that the search for a baby-sitter doesn’t consume valuable time an d energy that could be spent on your baby. Be sure to tell your caregiver how much being able to continue breastfeeding means to you, and thank this person for helping to make this possible. If your baby’s caregiver is unfamiliar with breastfed babies and handling expressed human milk, you’ll need to gently and tactfully educate her. Share information about the benefits of breastfeeding and about how your baby is growing and thriving on your milk. Tell her how to thaw and warm your milk (written instructions may be helpful), and work out a system for preparing, labeling, and storing your baby’s bottles. Make this as simple as possible so that the caregiver can devote her attention to the baby, not the bottle. To speed the delivery of your milk to your baby so that she doesn’t have to wait for bottles when she is hungry, try these tips:

    • Freeze milk in small amounts that thaw more quickly.
    • Thaw the amount of milk needed for each day overnight in the refrigerator. Any milk left after 24 hours will have to be discarded, but if your baby’s milk consumption is fairly predictable, you can do this without worrying about waste.
    • Your caregiver could try giving your baby cold milk from the refrigerator, but most babies prefer it warmed up, just like the milk they get from mom’s breast.

    Tell the caregiver that you want your baby held for all feedings, and that your baby should be picked up whenever he cries or fusses. If the caregiver is having trouble getting your baby to accept a bottle during your first days back at work, see won’t take a bottle. Tell her what to offer your baby when he wants to suck for comfort–a pacifier, or perhaps the caregiver’s clean finger. Be supportive and sympathetic–a good relationship with this person is important. But first and foremost, remember that you are in charge here. You are responsible for your baby’s well-being.

7. Get to know your breast pump. About two weeks before your plan to return to work, get the breast pump out of the case and figure out how to make it work. Read the directions carefully–they’re your best source of information for how to put the pump together, how to get the best use out of it, and how to clean it. You may also find helpful tips on maximizing the amount of milk you can pump.

8. Get baby used to the bottle – but not too soon. Someone is going to tell you, “Give your baby a bottle by two weeks of age, so he’ll get used to it. Otherwise, he may never take it.” This is poor advice. It’s best to avoid bottles, certainly during the first three weeks. Offering a bottle at the time your baby is learning the fine art of latch-on and you are building up your milk supply runs the risk of interfering with both of these processes. If the bottle is introduced too soon, some babies develop nipple confusion; others may not. Some babies switch back and forth from breast to bottle without difficulty Others quickly learn that it’s easier to get milk from a bottle and have difficulty returning to the breast. Of course, you don’t know if you have this kind of baby until after the bottle is introduced and baby is unwilling to take the breast. It’s wiser not to take the risk, especially if your baby has had difficulty learning to take the breast. Give him some time to consolidate what he’s learned about breastfeeding before you present him with a new challenge. A hungry baby will learn to take a bottle eventually, especially if your milk is in it. A couple weeks before you return to work, begin offering baby the bottle as a toy and let him get familiar with it. Don’t obsess about baby accepting the bottle, and don’t force the issue. If baby takes the bottle, fine; if he doesn’t, okay. Some babies refuse to take bottles from their mother (a sort of “what’s wrong with this picture?” feeling), yet take the bottle from another caregiver.

9. Negotiate with your employer. Develop a plan that you think will work for you–when you will pump, where you will store milk, other special arrangements like being able to visit your baby and nurse during your lunch hour. If you know other women in your workplace who have pumped milk for their babies, talk to them about the problems they encountered and how they solved them. In putting together your plan, consider the following:

  • When will you pump? You will need to pump about as often as your baby nurses, every two to three hours. If you work an eight-hour day, this means pumping at mid-morning, at lunch, and at mid-afternoon. If you pump both breasts at the same time, allow 15 to 20 minutes, 30 minutes if you pump each breast separately. You may have to arrive earlier and stay later to make up for time spent pumping.
  • Where will you pump? At your desk? In the ladies’ room? Can you borrow an office or use an empty room to pump in privacy? (Hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.) The ladies’ lounge is a good place if you like company while you pump–and some moms do). If you work in a hospital or medical center, there may be a pumping room near the newborn nursery or neonatal intensive care unit.
  • Ideally, the place where you pump will have an electrical outlet, so that you can use an electric pump, if that is your choice, and a sink to rinse off the parts of the pump that come in contact with your milk. You’ll need a comfortable chair and a table for your equipment, your lunch, or any paperwork you might want to look at while you’re pumping.
  • Where will you store the milk? A refrigerator where you can store expressed milk is handy, though you can substitute ice packs and a cooler.

Learning to Gracefully Handle The Wife & Working Mom Balancing Act Part 1

I’ve been a wife and a working mommy for four and a half months now and boy has my life changed. Since going through my pregnancy, labor, delivery and now parenthood, my husband and I are closer than ever before. We are learning to work together to take care of our home, bills and daughter together. Even with his continual help, it is a big adjustment and a lot of work to be an organized, productive, hands on and peaceful wife, mom and career woman.

Here’s a typical day during the work week for me: I work then come home making sure my husband and daughter have what they need. We typically eat leftovers so my husband or I don’t have to cook several days a week because we are so busy. I make sure Elyssa is content, make sure dinner is prepared or warmed, do a little house work, talk with my husband about the days dealings, nurse and we play with Elyssa, I give her a bath, nurse her again, my husband puts her to bed, if I haven’t eaten I muster up the energy to eat dinner and make sure I have energy and joy for married fellowship if my husband and I feel in the mood.

I absolutely LOVE being a wife and a mom therefore most days it isn’t hard for me to put myself last and make sure that my family is taken care of. Also, my husband is very hands on with our daughter and he is a good cook and helps with housework too. I’m blessed to have a good job with good salary pay and free benefits for the three of us, therefore I would never complain about being a working mother, esp since so many people are without work currently.

Eph 6:7-8 (NIV) Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

I wanted to share Eph 6:7-8 today because it is a good reminder for us all that EVERYTHING we do, we are to do it for the Lord and NOT for man. As a Christian, everything I do should glorify God; so the way I talk to my husband should bring God glory, the way I care for my daughter when she’s teething and sleepy should bring God glory. We must remember that as we walk according to the word of God, the Lord will reward us in Heaven for our good works and obedient hearts. This is another thing to remember when your spouse, boss, children, parents don’t seem to notice or appreciate your efforts and hard work. We must remember that God sees us and He is giving us ALL the grace we need to keep pushing even when we feel tired.

Here’s 2 free side nuggets:

SELF CARE! While we learn to care for our families, let’s make sure we find some time to care for ourselves. Self care is very important. Whether inside or outside the home, whether it’s 20 minutes or 2 hours, find something to do each week to care for yourself, it will make a world of difference!!

SEX! Even though us married mommies are constantly working (in or outside the home) thinking about meals, bottles, laundry and dishes, we MUST make time to come together with our husbands. Sexual intimacy is so very important in marriage. Please please please don’t put everything under the sun ahead of your husband and your intimate time together. At a marriage bible study, our pastor told us that men need a release every 72 hours therefore my husband and I try to make sure that we at least come together every 3 days to be together. If we allow the cares of the world to weigh us down to where we can not please our spouses and cater to our marriages, our marriages will suffer. Wives communicate to your husbands about what time of day you have the most energy (sex doesn’t have to always be at night) and what you need them to do to help you to be at peace and in the mood. I love to serve and please my husband in and outside the bedroom and he loves to do the same for me. Yes there are days were both or one of us is too tired but we make sure that if we give each other a rain check, we hold true to our word to come together the next day if at all possible.

Everything I’m saying in this post, I’m preaching to myself. I am learning to balance work, marriage and mommyhood and not be consumed so much with one or two of them that the third category suffers. I thank God for the Holy Spirit who leads and guides me and gives me peace AND checks me when I’m wrong and need to tighten up. I am equipped to be the wife, mother and woman who God has called and created me to be in Jesus name amen!!

**What are some ways you’ve learned to balance your life and get it all done? What are some challenges that you currently face regarding your balancing act?**

Nursing, Burping and Pumping OH MY! Diary of a Breastfeeding Mommy

My daughter just turned 12 weeks and she and I are still learning and enjoying the breastfeeding process. I returned to work when she was 10 weeks old, therefore I’m pumping twice a day at work and she is being bottle fed during the day. When I get home around 4-5:30 pm she smiles and cooes and starts pulling on my shirt and it makes me feel so special. My baby girl wants something that only I can give her; nursing is our special bonding time and it’s good for both of us.

I know that breastfeeding isn’t for everyone but for m baby and I, it was the right decision. Some of the pros of breastfeeding: it’s good for the baby and helps to reduce a baby’s chances of developing diabetes, obesity, ear infections and respiratory illness and many other illness. Breastfeeding is free, it helps with the mother’s weight loss, it’s convenient (you don’t have to carry or prepare bottles) and it’s great for the mother child bond.

When Elyssa was born, I didn’t get her to successfully latch until several hours after her arrival. I was determined not to give up and I didn’t want to give her formula unless it was absolutely necessary. I had lots of support from my husband, mother and a nurse name Sharon that I will never forget. I will never forget the joy and relief Elyssa and I both felt the moment she latched and began to receive everything she needed from me. 

My husband and I took a breastfeeding class and therefore we were knowledgeable on the pros, cons, joys and challenges of breastfeeding. My mom breastfed and therefore I always wanted to too.  Lack of knowledge and support are many women’s main reasons for not breastfeeding. I have been extremely blessed throughout this process because I also have a network of new mothers who are breastfeeding. I talk, text or Facebook with them weekly; we share tips, encourage one another and provide each other with support. Every nursing mother needs to know that she has other nursing mothers in her corner for the days that she feels like giving up or feels like what she’s doing isn’t working.

For the last three weeks I’ve been pumping at work and it’s been going well. The work days are busy but I make time to pump twice, once in the AM and once in the PM. I’ve been blessed to have a large supply of milk and never have had to worry about not being able to produce. I don’t take this for granted at all. I thank God often for giving me all that I need to provide Elyssa with all that she needs.

Another interesting thing about breastfeeding is locating an appropriate place to do it while your out and about. It definitely requires some planning but it can be done! Many establishments don’t have clean safe places for nursing mothers to care for their babies so at first I was nursing in bathrooms or my car until my friends gave me some helpful advice. One friend told me to nurse in dressing rooms at stores like Target, Wal-Mart or at the mall. One friend highly recommended that I get a nursing cover so that I could nurse her wherever and still feel covered. I stopped taking her to bathrooms and learned to feel comfortable nursing her under my pretty lavender and white nursing cover if I didn’t have a bottle with me. I’ve only nursed in public a few times, surprisingly I felt comfortable and Elyssa did very well. She’s older now and getting her to latch is usually not a struggle.

God has blessed my body to be able to produce what my baby needs. I LOVE nursing Elyssa. I look forward to coming home from work, nursing her and holding her close. I enjoy looking into her eyes and seeing how happy she is to see me and get nourishment from me. For me, breastfeeding does not hurt. Usually if it hurts it’s because she isn’t latched on correctly. Sometimes she gets worked up if she doesn’t latch on as quickly as she wants but I remain calm and I help her get situated so that she can latch comfortably and correctly. With her taking bottles now, it does help me to have other’s be able to feed her if I need to go somewhere or take a nap. Pumping and nursing is the best of both worlds because either way, she’s still getting her mommy’s milk!

Questions: Did you or do you plan to breastfeed your babies? Why or Why not? What were some joys and challenges that you faced? Do you have any questions about breastfeeding? If so, feel free to post them below or email me at joanna.willis@hotmail.com

Tips On How NOT To Be a Secret Agent Christian At Work

Today I return to work from my 12 week maternity leave. I am not the woman I was when I left at 37 weeks pregnant. I have experienced the joys and challenges of child-birth and the joys and challenges of the first stages of motherhood. My husband and I are completely in love with our daughter and we’re forever grateful to God for blessing us with her.

Last Sunday, our Pastor, Pastor Andre Butler of Word of Faith Southfield, MI, preached the last sermon of his My So Called Christian Life series. A large portion of the message was about glorifying God in our work places. With me returning to work this week, I thought the message was right on time! Many women return from maternity leave angry and resentful about having to leave their precious little ones at home. I will miss Elyssa tremendously but I am determined to have a positive grateful attitude about returning to work. I thank God for a job that I love and being able to be a blessing to my agency until God calls me to do something else. I know that Elyssa is in great hands and this is just what I have to do for this season of my life. I will walk into work knowing that the Holy Ghost is walking with me. I’m praying for a joyful, peaceful and energetic first day back.

Pastor Butler’s message reminded me of the bigger picture about why Christians work and how we are to behave on the job. I’m blessed to attend a church that teaches the word of God plainly and helps us to apply it to our everyday lives. I want to continue to glorify God on my job and do my job with excellence! Checkout some of my notes from Sunday 6/5/11 My So Called Christian Life series. These helpful nuggets will help you to not be a secret agent Christian at work. Represent Christ everyday, every where you go and remember it’s a lifestyle!! To get a copy of the message please go to http://www.woficc.com

*God is a man of detail.
*Monday Ministry: wining people to Jesus (in the work place) by being a friend to them.
*Real Christians tell people about Jesus.
*When you live just like the world, you push people further from Jesus. (Don’t walk around with your big bible in the office and then curse people out and behave the opposite of the bible)
*What if God did your job’s yearly evaluation? (What rating would He give you?)
*When you please God, you please your boss. (Remember God sees what we’re doing even when our boss isn’t around)
*We go to work out of obedience to God.
*I’m an unidentified faith agent. (I’m sent to my job by God to be a blessing)
*Get out of the spiritual nursery and make room for the new Christians. (We need to continue to grow spiritually and not stay in the same place forever)
*I’m not a secret agent Christian. (I live a godly lifestyle openly for others to see)
*God’s the one signing your paycheck. (My trust is in God, not my job)
*Be a blessing to everyone in the work place. (Having a good attitude and holding my tongue when necessary is a must)
*Work like Jesus worked. (With excellence even when no one is looking)
*The place is blessed because you work there.
*Every Christian is in full-time service. (We should all spread the gospel)
*Why do you need the world’s approval when your apart of the largest Holy Ghost gang.

*When you serve God (and witness to others) it’s fulfilling.

Some Scriptures referenced:
1 John 4:19 Romans 12:1 2 Cor5:14 Mark 6:1-3 Col 3:23 Matt 6:33 John 12:9 Matt 5:13-14 Prov 11:30