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Breastfeeding and Working

One of the hardest parts of breastfeeding is working and continuing to breastfeed.  Breastfeeding in general is a huge commitment.  But expressing breast milk at work is both challenging a time consuming.  

When my son was 4 months old I had to return to the workforce.  Pumping was my biggest concern.  I had to schedule pumping schedules into my already busy day.  But soon it became part of my every day ritual. Each day I have lug in my equipment along with an ice pack and empty bottles and parts.  

I was very fortunate to return to a job that was very supportive of the breastfeeding mother.  We had a Mothers Room that was very busy.  At the time, three of us rotated in  and out of the room. It was warm and cozy.  I enjoyed my pumping sessions.  It was nice to dim the lights and catch up on emails and Facebook.  Of course their were times that it felt like a chore, but overall I was comfortable and determined to breastfeed my son.  The best part was knowing I had a comfortable and safe place to pump.

For the most part, my job was stationary and I didn't have to worry about traveling.  I had the occasional meeting and luckily I could plan ahead and make pumping arrangements.  I contacted the facility and asked if they offered a Mothers Room. To my surprise, they did and I was relieved.  Nothing fancy, but you could get the job done in privacy. This is when I stated feeling the challenges that a traveling nursing mom may experience and I began to understand why many working mothers stop nursing or need to supplement due to a low milk supply.  Expressing milk and working is harder and challenging for the traveling nursing mother!  Especially if you are not familiar with the facility.

When my son was around 6 months old, I was given a new job opportunity.  This was very exciting.  I would have the opportunity to do what I love still but it would require that I travel to a few different buildings.  I accepted and was thrilled.  Then it dawned on me.  I am a breastfeeding mother and I am committed to making sure my son is breastfed for the first year.  Many thoughts ran through my head.  Where will I pump?  Do they support breastfeeding?  How many times a day will I be able to express milk?  Will I even have time?  Who do I even ask for these answers?  I didn't want to make a bad impression by asking for frequent breaks to pump but breastfeeding was very important and I wanted to make sure I continued.

I remember my first day at building number one.  I lugged all of my equipment to find that the only private area I would have to pump was missing an outlet nearby. I had no way to plug in my machine.  I needed to come up with a new game plan.  What a bummer!  I instantly missed my old Mothers Room at my previous job.  It was a sad day.  I went home without any milk.  Luckily, I had a stash of milk at home but any breastfeeding mother understands how frustrating it was and how uncomfortable my breasts were.

Day number two,at building number two, was just as stressful.  I again lugged all of my equipment to find, that again, I would go home without any milk.  Both buildings did not offer a warm and comfy Mothers Room where I could pump in peace while I caught up on my emails and Facebook.  

I went home and decided that I needed to have an action plan.  I had a new found respect for traveling nursing mothers.  I got out my rechargeable battery pack and inserted 8 AA batteries.  There I was ready for the next day.

This was great until I found myself in the middle of a pumping session with dead batteries.  Plus they were a pain.  I had to remember to recharge them each evening, and if I forgot, I was out of luck.  Buying and replacing AA batteries was out of the question. Batteries are expensive and I didn't want to dispose of them in our landfills.  I searched online and found a lithium rechargeable battery here.  It was perfect! I ordered it and soon my power problems would be over.

Fast forward a few months and now my son is 9 months old and I am so thankful for this battery discovery. It's made pumping a lot less stressful and I am still committed to my one year goal.  I still miss the Mother's Room at my previous job but at least now I am mobile and can pump anywhere regardless of whether there is an power outlet or not.  I also get many pump sessions out of one charge.  I don't have to worry about accidentally forgetting to charge my AA batteries before I go to bed.  Sometimes I will use the lithium battery at home while I pump.  It's a valuable addition to my daily routine of lugging medical equipment to and from work to ensure my son is breastfed for one year!  

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