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Friday, November 21, 2008

My Milkshake Brings All the Boys

Okay, really just one boy comes for my milkshake, but the song always makes me laugh, especially when I first started nursing M. It’s my "Got Milk" anthem, though I’m sure it wasn’t written about breastfeeding.

To be honest, I never thought I would write about nursing my son because it’s so personal. However, a few friends asked me what I did once I resumed work after my three month maternity leave. Before I go into the details, let me state that I was one of those women who didn’t completely revel in breastfeeding. I loved the time spent with my son and all the benefits of breastfeeding, but it felt so primal and animalistic sometimes. The breast pump didn't help my discomfort either. It made me feel even more like Bessie the Cow.

As lukewarm as I was about nursing, I became doggedly determined to nurse M until he was a year old. I felt like it was the best way to reconnect with my son after being away from him all day at work and I was willing to do whatever I could to maintain my milk supply. I even went as far as carrying my pump to and from work each day, which was a big deal because I walked 1.5 mile with it everyday for eight months.

I was able to nurse M until he was 11 months, though I was disappointed that I couldn’t make it a full year. I dried out like the Sahara Desert. Here are a few pointers that helped me make it even that far.

1. The Medela Breast Pump: It’s a strong pump, but I haven’t tried anything else to give you a proper comparison. I’m told that a hospital grade pump works even better, so it might be a good idea to look into that option as well.

2. Extra Medela bottles: You’ll need two sets: one to take to work and one to give to your care provider. Medela bottles are now BPA-free.

3. Extra bags: If you have an adequate milk supply, buy the freezer storage bags and freeze your milk. It will come in very handy. Pump and freeze as much as you can before returning to work. Medela makes the bag that you can pump directly into as well but they are a bit pricey; I found it was much more economical to pump and pour into the storage bag works just as well.

4. Easy Expressions Bra: Okay, I know this sounds extremely, extremely odd, but using this bra helped me to free my hands so I could read, e-mail, or in some cases, take conference calls. (I had my coworker test to see if she could hear the pump over the phone before I ever got on an actual conference call.) The key to keeping your supply up is to relax during the process. The more stressed or focused you are on pumping or the pump's volume, the less successful you'll be. Put on your Ipod and try to relax as much as possible.

5. Extra shields: It's likely that you won't have time at work to wash your shields, so it is a good idea to pack an extra set or two, depending on how many times to plan to pump. Plus, you don’t want to have to explain what you’re washing in the shared kitchen sink…I made the mistake of doing this once and had to tell a curious male co-worker that the shields were a new Tupperware that I was testing in order to hide my embarrassment.

6. Mother’s Milk Tea: I drank this tea religiously. It tasted pretty mild and I was willing to do anything to help secure my milk supply. You can buy it at Whole Foods. Fenugreek works great too but since I hate taking pills, I opted to drink this licorice smelling tea instead.

7. Schedule time in your calendar: At the 11th month, I wasn’t as diligent about setting aside time in my calendar to pump. As a result, meetings were scheduled in the time slots when I needed to take a break and pump. Not prioritizing my time really jeopardized my supply. You really do have to commit!!

8. To Sanitze or Not to Sanitize: In order to establish a routine, make the call whether you will sanitize your supplies. I sanitized haphazardly at first using microwave bags. However, it did not make sense to do it sometimes and not others. Once I made the decision not to sanitize, things were much easier for me. I also found that M never got sick from me not sanitizing.

Hopefully, with these tips, you'll be able to make plenty of milkshakes of your own. Good luck!!

La la-la la , warm it up. Lala-lalala,

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eli said...

Oh those were the days. I remember doing pretty much everything you said with my first and second daughter. Unfortunately, I started to dry up at 5 months. The stress of motherhood and going back to work was too much to handle for my body. I was so diligent about breastfeeding that I stored so much milk in my freezer that I was able to give breastmilk to my girls up to 8mths.
By the way, you were fortunate to have an office to do it in. I am an outside salesrep and had to go to the back of parking lots and do it in my car. Boy those were the days....Happy pumping ladies.

Anonymous said...

I know there's no prize for nursing (like no prize for labor without drugs) but if there WERE, I think working mamas who Pump should take the cake. Seriously. I nursed my daughter for 18 months and it got hard but lets face it I was a stay at home mom... the couch and the boppy became permanent attachments for a while. I had to pump with my first son (NICU) but I just couldn't hang in there more than 2 months. High Five from me to you!

Blessings, Whitney

mili shah said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I agree that nursing is a great way to reconnect with my son when I get home from a long day at work. I take the fenugreek and it works well!

wendy said...

jasper & I never quite figured it out, so I have been pumping. totally hear you about the cow thing. I figure since I am staying at home, my main job is to make the milk. I'll have to get some of that tea for when things start to slow down.