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When I was still working full time in a research institute, I had always been dreaming on how nice it would if I can get a job that can be done from home.
I would be able to take care of my baby on my own, nurse her whenever she wants, play with my son, and do my job while they sleep.
No pumping needed.
No traffic rush.
Do you have the same dream like me?
I know at least several moms I've talked to dreamed that way.
But recently I talked to my friend, Jen about her working from home experience.
Aaandd.. Guess what?
It turns out... Not all work-from-home schemes are relaxing as I have dreamed.
You'll find out more today as I interviewed Jen about how she balance breastfeeding (her newborn) and her work-at-home responsibility.
PS: We will also summarize a few important points about building breast milk stash. If you are in this stage, keep reading till the end! We will debunk one important myth and learn a bit about EBM storage precautions.
Rina: Tell me a little bit of your work back then. What you are doing, how's your working hour looks like?
I worked for a web hosting company providing support to our customers with all kinds of technical issues related to their websites. I worked from home and had set hours during the day and some night and weekend work. I worked full time and was also on call during nights and weekend hours.
Rina: How old was your baby when you started working again and who took care of him/her while you were working?
I returned to work at eight weeks postpartum. My company provided six weeks of maternity leave and wanted me to return at six weeks but I fought for eight and used my vacation to take it. Personally, I believe this is too soon.
Rina: Do you pump at work, and if yes, how 's the schedule looks like?
When I was working full time and later part time I did pump during my work day.
Even though I worked from home, I was at a desk with set hours and usually in virtual meetings or on the phone so I still needed to pump. I tried to pump as often as I would nurse which was every 2-3 hours.
Rina: Now that you said you did pump while working, did you have a freezer stash before you started working again? How much was your stash?
I did have a freezer stash. I started pumping immediately after my daughter's birth because she was in the NICU and kept pumping daily for weeks.
I had a good stash (about hundreds of ounces I couldn't remember exactly how much) when I returned to work. I actually never used it all and lost some of it in a power outage when she was five months old but that's another story 🙂
Rina: when did you change to part time schedule? How old was your baby or how long after you started working again, if you can remember.
Jen: I believe it was about two months after I started working again. She was about four months old.
Rina: Have you ever worried if you won't produce enough milk for your baby because you are working?
Jen: Yes, missing feedings due to a call or meeting can be challenging and the worst was when I was on call and working overnight or on weekends and my typical nursing schedule and sleep was disrupted.
Rina: A lot of moms feel exhausted juggling between their pumping / breastfeeding commitment, work, and the family? What's your no 1 advise for them?
Remember it is a temporary period of time when pumping and breastfeeding and it will get easier as your baby gets older.
Things change as well so try not to worry too much about what may be coming since it may not materialize.
I worried about work and taking care of my baby a lot and then eventually I was laid off which led to blogging and a completely different lifestyle.
Do your best and give yourself breaks.
Sometimes we need to relax our standards and let something go temporarily if it is causing stress (like keeping the house clean!).
Rina: Lol, I truly agree with you about lowering our standard =D.
Working-breastfeeding moms surely have a lot to juggle and we should prioritize what matters the most for us.
Maybe it's about cleaning, or food, or laundry, or something else. You definitely have to choose your priority to stay sane and reach your breastfeeding goal.
Rina: Lastly, can you give some suggestions for breastfeeding moms who decided to not returning to work (i.e office work) and thinking to work at home instead?
Should they prepare it the same way as if the would return to work
(Honestly, I thought
My situation was unique in that I planned to work full time and had even put a deposit down on a daycare and had been pumping and building a freezer stash.
I made my decision to switch to part time after I already returned to work and my job schedule was wearing me down along with taking care of a baby.
As far as the need to pump if working from home vs an office I really think it depends on the type of job.
Since I was in a customer service type field I was on the phone a lot and working with clients so I could not have a crying baby in the room.
I did feed her sometimes rather than pump depending on my day.
I also communicated with my coworkers online constantly and they would notice if I went missing for awhile.
If your work from home job does require you to be at a desk, on the phone, or even communicating online, I would plan to have a caregiver and pump when needed.
Rina: Thank you, Jen for sharing your story with us! It's pretty surprising to or me that working at home is not as easy as I would imagine. I think it would be great lessons for fellow mothers who are thinking to switch from office work to working from home.
Jen is a mom to three under four. Her blog was started as a way to connect with breastfeeding parents and offer support, tips, and product reviews. It is becoming so much more and and all things parenting can be found there. Most of her writing is accomplished in between nap times and from her phone. She can be found at her blog Breastfeeding Needs.
IMPORTANT LESSONS FROM JEN'S STORY
1, You don't actually need a thousand oz of breast milk stash when you are returning back to work.
If you have read my post on building a breast milk stash, I mentioned there that the original purpose of breastmilk stash is for baby's feeding for your first day of work, then add some extra cushion for accidentally spilled milk and such.
Now, why a lot of moms setting a high target of hundreds or even thousand oz?
That's usually because they are worried if they got too busy at work and start to skip some pumping sessions.
As the result, their milk supply would drop because of that.
Jen was worried, too.
Even though she's working at home, she was worried that her job is too busy such that she would miss some feeding/pumping.
Turns out, she was doing okay.
Yes, there might be times when she missed the pumping sessions, but most of the time, whenever possible, she kept pumping every 2-3 hours to match the baby's need.
And she ended up not using the stash at all.
2, How to prevent breast milk loss during a power outage? And how to salvage them.
Jen mentioned that she lost her stash due to a power outage.
Though hers was because of accidental reason, I believe most of us would cry and regret it so much if we ever lost our hard-earned stash due to a sudden power outage.
Especially with the most recent hurricane in the news, you may be wondering what could you do to prevent freezer stash loss due to
Or perhaps you live in a city / country with frequent power outages (not because a hurricane, but it's just - I don't know - poor power supply management, perhaps - raise your hand!)
First, let's talk about the precaution first.
(1) If you have access to a generator, you can use it to turn on your freezer during the power outage.
(2) If you have friends/ family with access to
(3) A full freezer will hold the temperature for 48 hours (24 if half full) and keep the freezer door closed all the time (reference: kellymom.com). So,in case the power outage does happen, keep the freezer door close, don't keep opening it to check on your milk!
(4) Put your breast milk in the middle of the freezer (NOT on the wall / freezer door) and surround them with blue ice or frozen water packets. Keeping the freezer full and placing your milk in the center will help to keep your milk frozen longer.
Now, what if you found out your milk is thawed?
First, don't assume that all your milk has gone bad.
Check: Are they still partially frozen?
Partially frozen here doesn't mean partial hard-rock frozen.
If your milk still feels slushy or has ice crystals in it, it is considered partially frozen.
If this is the case, it is perfectly okay to refreeze them.
What if they are completely thawed?
The current guideline suggests that the milk should be used within 24-48 hours period after the milk is completely thawed.
However, there's a study (2006) which evaluates the effect of refreezing a completely thawed breast milk and the result showed that the milk is still safe to be given to a healthy baby, no bacteria and still has adequate nutrient content.
If you are not sure if your milk is spoiled or not, smell it!
A spoiled breast milk has a distinct smell which you'll know right away that it has gone bad.
3. Preparing to start working from home.
At the end of the interview, Jen has briefly shared her advice about what to do if you're working from home with a newborn.
Consider the nature of your work.
Would you be able to feed the baby while working?
Do you need to be in a virtual meeting all day long (and thus will need somebody else to feed and take care your baby)?
Your answers to these questions will help you to determine:
(1) If you need a caregiver for your baby
(2) If you need to pump while working
(3) If you need to prepare some breast milk stash.
Again, if we are taking Jen as an example here, she has gone through two different work-at-home jobs.
The one that she did full time as customer service specialist and for that, she needed a caregiver to take care of her baby while she's working. She also pumped while working.
Fast forward today, Jen is still working at home, but now as a professional blogger.
This allows her to embrace a totally different lifestyle and she can afford to do her job and managing motherhood at the same time, without the need to pump or hiring a baby caregiver.
I hope you find this article useful and helps you to understand a little bit more about balancing breastfeeding and working at home.
Don't forget to check Jen's website at breastfeedingneeds.com.
She's got a lot of great breastfeeding tips over there.
Now, onto you...
Does any of you working at home and juggling between breastfeeding / pumping and completing your work?
Share your story with us!