They say breastfeeding is one of the hardest things mothers do and you won’t know it unless you really do it. So, kudos to all breastfeeding moms out there. You really are something! But how about those who do this hardest thing ever and work for the family at the same time. How do we manage it?
It’s a hell of job, I should say.
But you know what they say, if it’s for your own son/daughter, you’ll take every chance just to give them a good life and of course a good health. I understand there are moms who prefer not to breastfeed. Don’t worry, it’s okay. This does not make you less of a mother. We all have reasons and choices and I know we all want the best for our children, no matter what. And for the moms who prefer to take care of their children full time, hands down to all of you. We may have different choices but we have one thing in common, we all have this unconditional love for our children and nothing can break it.
This post will basically go through the things I personally experience as a mother who works and breastfeeds at the same. I hope this helps moms out there who are currently struggling or maybe thinking of doing the same or for those who are still planning and currently pregnant. It’s exciting, believe me 🙂
1. Know Your Rights
This should be the first thing breastfeeding moms should know because I know some who decided not to breastfeed because of the struggle they face at work.
REPUBLIC ACT No. 10028 – AN ACT EXPANDING THE PROMOTION OF BREASTFEEDING, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7600, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS “AN ACT PROVIDING INCENTIVES TO ALL GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE HEALTH INSTITUTIONS WITH ROOMING-IN AND BREASTFEEDING PRACTICES AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES”
You can also see the whole article in this link. Through the provision of this law, workplaces are required to implement certain regulations that are beneficial to breastfeeding-working moms.
a. Lactation room/station. Workplaces should have a room intended for breastfeeding moms. This rooms should have the equipment and facilities like lavatory for hand-washing (it’s important to wash your hand before you express milk), refrigerator or freezer or any appropriate cooling facility for storing expressed breastmilk, electrical outlets for breast pumps, a small table and comfortable seats. The lactation room should not be located inside the toilet.
b. Lactation periods. Breastfeeding moms can have additional break times on top of their standard break periods. It should not be less than a total of 40mins for every 8-hour working period. These periods, which will include the time it takes the employee to get to and from the lactation room will be counted as compensated worked hours. It won’t be deducted from your salary nor will be added on top of what you’re getting monthly.
c. Breastfeeding programs and helpful information. The employers are expected to include breastfeeding programs as part of their other personal and professional programs and inform breastfeeding employees of some useful information and educational programs related to breastfeeding. They should encourage and support the mothers to avail of it as part of their human resource development programs.
Aside from these, as a mother, you are entitled to a maternity leave of 60 days if normal delivery and 78 days if cesarean. So you’ll have like around 2-3 months to get used to being a mother (for new moms) and to breastfeeding before going back to work. The first 3 months is very crucial to newborns so doctors really encourage mother to exclusively breastfeed on the first few months.
2. Breastfeeding can cause you pain and discomfort especially when you’re at work.
Breastfeeding can really cause you pain and discomfort whether you’re working or not. It causes soreness, sometimes there’ll be bleeding, sometimes you’ll feel lumps and they can really be painful as hell. It’s all part of it but you’ll get used to this, I promise. My son’s pedia once told me that whenever you feel pain and discomfort, you just need to let your baby latch. It eases the pain and makes you feel better. This was really working during the first 3 months because I was still on leave and had all the time to get used to having my baby latch on me but when I started working again, the pain and discomfort began torturing me. Because you can’t have regular breastfeeding sessions with your baby anymore, your body is again adjusting and so is your milk supply causing it to block the milk ducts. This is why you should use your lactation breaks regularly. The secret is you should have lactation breaks same time each day because your body has to adjust to a new schedule. The time you feel the discomfort and pain today can be the same time you’ll feel it everyday. So you have to create your mini schedule for this. If you don’t do it on time, you’ll feel pain and it’s really annoying especially when you’re working.
3. You should always have enough stock of breast pads and milk storage bags/cups.
They’ll be your best friend and they should be on your weekly or monthly shopping list. It can be annoying if you forgot to bring them (especially breast pads) with you at work because as you know, your milk supply just keeps increasing every time you don’t express milk. And you don’t want to go to office or work with your blouse being so wet of this precious liquid your baby should’ve been having instead of your blouse. You don’t really need to buy expensive ones. I know some brands that are really expensive (even more expensive than a formula milk) but just work the same as those affordable. The most important thing you have to consider is that it should not ever leak (both for breast pads and storage bags). For the storage bags, choose the one with zip lock and can store just the same amount as the amount of milk your baby’s bottle can store because you don’t want to keep changing bottles if the first one is not enough. For the breast pads, choose one like how you choose your sanitary pads, clean and safe for your baby. Aside from storage bags and pads, choose a good insulated bag where you can keep the expressed milk until you go home with them to your baby. For me, I usually put the little bags inside the freezer in the office and then put them inside the insulated bag when I’m about to go home in the afternoon. I put them inside our freezer at home as soon as I get back home.
4. Know the breast milk life span.
So you already have the things you need to express milk and store in your office while you’re working. You have storage bags or cups with leak-proof lid and BPA-free. You have a freezer at work and an insulated bag where you put the expressed milk on your way home. But one more important thing, it’s always important to know your milk’s life span. Of course you don’t want to give your child spoiled milk. It can cause upset stomach and other things you don’t want your child to have or feel. Remember, just because your milk is refrigerated doesn’t mean it is always safe for your baby. Your baby has a still sensitive stomach that reacts immediately to something that is not good for it. Below is a guideline in storing milk.
(19 °C-22 °C)
(22 °C-26 °C)
|Insulated Cooler (15 °C)||Refrigerator (4 °C)||Refrigerator Freezer||Deep Freezer|
|Freshly expressed breastmilk||6 hours||4 hours||1 day||5 days||3 months||12 months|
|Thawed in refrigerator, after being frozen||4 hours||4 hours||Do not store||1 day||Do not refreeze||Do not refreeze|
|Thawed, Warmed, Not Fed||Until feeding ends||Until feeding ends||4 hours||Do not refreeze||Do not refreeze||Do not refreeze|
|Thawed in refrigerator, after being frozen||Until feeding ends||Until feeding ends||Do not use||Do not use||Do not use||Do not use|
For more info, visit this link.
Put labels on your milk storage bags and cups so you’ll know when you expressed them. You can also put expiry date based on the table above. I just got this information online, so you might want to ask your baby’s pedia regarding storage. They always know better. And even though I have a reference like this, I don’t usually follow it because I want to make sure that the milk is consumed even before it’s near its expiry date. It is said that milk loses its vitamins and other nutrients the longer it is stored so you might want to let your baby consume it before it expires. Remember, this liquid is so precious that its nutrients can be your baby’s defence against harmful illness.
5. You may decrease your milk supply.
So you already got the hang of breastfeeding, you got used to the pain and discomfort and you already formulated your schedule at work when to take mommy breaks. Congratulations wonder woman! But just a friendly reminder, there’s a chance you may decrease your milk supply even though you regularly express milk. Expressing milk is still different from breastfeeding directly. Like what I said in one of the items above, your milk supply varies to the amount of milk you express or the amount of milk that gets out from our body. The less you express, the less supply you’ll get. Also, expect that there will be days you can’t really express milk. You’ll be busy at work, there’ll be meetings or maybe you’re not at work but you are in another place that won’t still let you do it. This usually causes the supply to decrease. Good thing, you can always take supplements to at least help you produce more, eating healthy can also help. Of course, you have malunggay leaves and other healthy food you can rely on. Ask you moms, they know these better. There are also lactating cookies that are getting really popular nowadays. I also tried them before. It’s like a giving yourself a reason to skip diet but not feeling guilty about it. Cool, right? But then again, ask your OB or your baby’s pedia about this. They can also prescribe you something to help you produce more milk. And one more thing, letting your baby latch on you every time there’s a chance is really helpful. In my case, I still breastfeed as soon as I get home; in weekends and when we’re outside together with our baby. Actually I do it anywhere except at work. It’s like it brings back the cycle and reminds your body that there’s your baby waiting for a large supply of your milk so give it all.
6. It can be frustrating in many ways.
First, you can’t be with your baby most of the time of the day. And second, because your milk supply decreases, you’ll feel bad that you can’t give all to your baby. It’s really frustrating and sad. Sometimes you’ll catch yourself between being able to finally free yourself from the difficulties of breastfeeding and feeling down because you’ll think it’s still not enough because your baby needs more and you can’t give it. You might blame yourself when your baby is sick and you’ll feel like it happened because you’re not able to provide everything he needs especially the amount of milk he needs for a strong immune system. You’ll think a lot and you’ll feel frustrated. It might affect your work so you have to really weigh things here. This should not get into you. Being a mom and working for the family is really something you need to be ready for because it takes a lot of courage, a lot of sad days because you can’t take care of your child, a lot of wasted milk because you can’t always have time for lactation breaks. It is really exhausting in many ways. There’ll be times that you’ll get home from work really tired but you still need to pump milk. You’ll feel like you’re about to explode, it’s already leaking but you can’t feed your baby because he’s still full or still sleeping. These are times it really gets into me. Sometimes, I catch myself crying. It will really challenge you but it always boils down to the very reason why you’re doing this, the very reason why despite of it being so difficult, you still manage to go home smiling – because there’s this little angle who’ll also be smiling at you, reaching you as soon as you open the door.
7. It is rewarding.
Anything you do for your child is rewarding. Sooner or later you’ll see how it turns out. As you know, your baby can get a lot of benefits from your breast milk that’s why it is recommended to exclusively breastfeed at least until he’s 2 years old. It’s like you’re building him a shield of protection and love. That’s a kind of mother’s love. Patient and unconditional. Being away from your baby requires a lot of patience. It can be really sad that you can’t take care of him. You can’t be there to witness his milestones. You’re not the one to see his first step or hear his first real word. These things are really hard for working moms to accept. We may look strong and other moms will say they can’t do this because they can’t stand being far away from their child. We all want to be there for our children. We always want to be the first person to come to him whenever he cries. We want to be the one he’ll look for whenever he feels not safe or when he’s scared or hungry. We always want to be there for him but we simply always can’t. It is a responsibility we can’t just put aside because we’re mothers now. Sometimes, being a mom pushes you to work more because you don’t want him to grow with empty stomach or because you want to give him a good life. Cliche reasons but always true. And because of these, we’ll always look for ways to show him the love we like him to feel even we’re not always together. We like them to grow strong and smart and healthy. We start this by giving him this very basic necessity during infancy. And remember, whether you are breastfeeding or not, working or staying at home, as long as you’re a MOTHER to your child, you’re doing good and I salute you.