Breastfeeding As A Working Mom

In case you didn’t know, I am a work-from-home mama. I also exclusively breastfeed my daughter, which has been somewhat of a challenge, to say the least.

It is one thing to leave baby with my husband for just over an hour for me to go out and photograph a family at the park, but it becomes increasingly difficult when I have clients at the studio, especially for newborn sessions where my daughter is out of the home for upwards of 4 hours so I have time to prep and clean up without having to catch my uber-fast crawler.

I have been slowly building up my work schedule for the last several months (self-employed means not getting to enjoy a lengthy maternity leave), which meant that my husband got to go on daddy-daughter adventures with her and we both had our fingers crossed she drank from a bottle (that was another challenge in itself!). But now that she is almost a year old, it is time for me to go back to working full time.

Usual yield in the early days: 4 ounces in the Haakaa, stored frozen in 2oz portions since that is what baby was eating at the time.

In the transition, I’ve got her in daycare a couple of times a week, with my husband another couple, and the rest of them I work while she naps so that I get to enjoy every minute of our time together (her personality is blooming so beautifully!). Being away from mama so often these past few weeks means that she has blown through my freezer stash that I collected early on with my Haakaa (baby nursing on one side while this silicone magic collects on the other). This means that I have officially have to pump to be able to send her off on adventures. This is where my gut-wrenching reality has set in. I went from being an over-producer in those early months, to a just-enougher struggling to be able to send off enough breastmilk with the care providers.

This has been made even more difficult because I am unable to pump halfway through a session (when I normally would feed her), which affects my supply (and the sneaking into the bathroom for 5 minutes to hand express while my client feeds her own baby isn’t cutting it). So when I do pump later in the day as soon as my clients leave, I usually only get the one good pump (and even then the yield is mediocre) and then the others are literally mere drops. I am sure any of my amazing clients would be totally cool if I set up to “feed” while they did, but to get all of the pieces ready, sit there awkwardly with my boobs out and the horribly stressful sound of the pump going, wouldn’t do any better (stressed out means dried out). So I stick to the bathroom breaks and keep a sanitized container in there on session days so that I can collect all that I can and it does more than just become added to my milkbath stash (“expired” breastmilk or collected in conditions not fit for consumption). It helps with baby’s eczema and I fully intend on doing a milkbath photo session to celebrate our BF anniversary (yup, my photog mama brain shows!).

Even when I try to pump at night, long after she has gone to bed; I still barely yield anything. Which is extra frustrating because I have stayed up late or gotten up specifically to pump, with no success, so I have given up precious sleep for what feels like nothing. It is so discouraging and absolutely brings up feelings of being inadequate (as if there aren’t enough reasons already!?). I know I am not, but still, it certainly feels like it.

After posting about the bump in the road of my journey a few weeks ago, I was sent a bunch of resources so THANK YOU for that. Hearing that I am not alone, while helpful, doesn’t make more needed milk. I have tried a few tips and tricks that were recommended to me, like the heating pad thing which worked at first, and I am absolutely open to trying more (please do share in the comments!). So here’s to being a just-enougher, and that totally being okay—but also, send good vibes that I can get a day or two ahead!

Cheers!

stephanie de montigny SdeM handrawn initials ottawa blogger

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