Hi everyone! Goodness it’s been a while. Every weekend I sit down to write a post and then lose all my momentum and decide it’s time to catch up on some sleep instead. Since my last post we’ve all been sick. Poor Teddy too. It was terrible and he popped his first two teeth through it all too. Ryan is back in Hartbeespoort for work and Teddy and I are still in JHB so I’ve been solo parenting, sleep deprived, sick with a sick bubba, working a corporate job and struggling a little. Luckily, I’m working from home a few days a week which is a saving grace because cutting down on the commute means I can use two hours a day for other demands. It’s been crazy but I’ve really learnt a lot in the past few months so let me help you out if you’re preparing to return to work or you’re back at work and feeling completely overwhelmed. You’re not alone.
Firstly, one of a mom’s biggest worries is whether there is enough milk for your baby when you’re at work. The more you stress about it, the less milk you produce. My supply completely dwindles when I’m tired which doesn’t help when you’re up a number of times at night attending to your little one. I received great advice while I was still on maternity leave and that was to use my silicone pump while I was breastfeeding to catch milk from the other side and then to express after a feed. This helped me build up my freezer supply which helps reassure me that my baby won’t go hungry when I’m not home. By following this advice, I built up quite a nice milk stash before I went back to work.
Once I was back to work, I’d breastfeed in the morning, express every 3 hours, breastfeed at Teddy’s bedtime and then express again before I went to bed. Teddy is currently drinking around 800ml of milk per day and this system is working perfectly. I’m also managing to maintain my freezer supply which is great for reassurance! Here a list of what I’m using:
Double electric pump (this one is really affordable and it works brilliantly)
Insulated lunch bag (this isn’t the exact one I use but any will do)
When I’m in the office, I try my very best to stick with my expressing routine and, at the very least, express twice during office hours. My office has a wonderful “Natal room” which is allocated for expressing mothers and I’m so grateful for this. So many women have had to pump in their car or in a boardroom or some other stressful environment which does not help matters. If you happen to know of a breastfeeding mom in the work place, I’d really encourage you to ensure she has a comfortable environment to enable her to express. New moms are tired, trying to do the best they possibly can and are still showing up and giving of their best. That deserves a medal, even if I don’t say so myself.
I store my expressed milk in the freezer bags I’ve listed above and put them in my designated “milk” lunch bag and pop them in the fridge with the ice bricks so that it’s all packed and ready for me to take home. I also had great advice from a mom that said she stores her expressed milk in Consol glass jars from West Pack Lifestyle which is a brilliant idea and much more environmentally friendly.
What else do you need? I definitely learnt the hard way that my nutrition is everything. I was so busy running around like a headless chicken that I wasn’t eating like I should so I’ve lost too much weight due to the stress, lack of sleep and not enough calories. As our nurse rightly pointed out, your milk will take the very best nutrients from your body to give them to your baby so you need to ensure that you are eating very wisely. Had I taken her advice, I may have been strong enough to avoid being sick for 3 weeks. Sleep when you can (very, very difficult to do – believe me, I know). Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m terrible at this because I hate to impose on other people but I now know that I will ask for help in future.
Now that we’ve covered the topic of milk supply and storage for a working mom, there’s also plenty more that a mom needs but I’ll save that for another post. In the meantime, I hope these tips for breastfeeding and expressing help. Please let me know if you’re expecting or if you’re a new mom going through something similar. I’d love to hear from you. Good luck mom, you’ve got this!