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Today I’m very lucky to have Hazimah sharing her pumping story with us. Hazimah is a mom of a 11- month old girl who used to supplement her baby with formula milk every day. But she didn’t give up. She's very determined to give as much as breast milk to her baby and her hard work paid off. Check out her beautiful story below.
I'm a mom to a beautiful 11-month old girl and I went back to work just one week shy before she turned 3 months old. So before I go over my pumping experience as a working mom, I have to briefly explain about my situation before I had to go back to work.
The Initial Struggle
I was extremely lucky to have gotten roughly 3 months of maternity leave because breastfeeding and adjusting to life with a newborn was a huge struggle for me.
I had this stupid and naive misconception that being a mother and breastfeeding naturally came hand in hand. I never even read up on it or gave it much thought during my pregnancy. Boy, was I wrong!
Breastfeeding was painful at first and my baby girl was always crying. I thought (and what everyone else kept saying to me) was because she was hungry and I was not producing enough.
This made me extremely stressed out and gave me such low self esteem, which only hampered my breastfeeding journey even more. By the time we worked on our latch, my daughter was on a bottle of formula per day.
I'm Not Giving Up
By then I had a few weeks left until I had to go back to work and no milk in my freezer. I was worried but I did not want to give up.
I eventually found your website and read all of your posts in the Breastfeeding Chronicles, which made me finally realize that I am not alone. It was a relief, all this while I felt like such a failure and I was ashamed of myself. It turned out, everyone had their struggles.
It gave me such determination and fire to build up my supply and ultimately give up formula. I immediately bought the right sized flanges, comfortable pumping bras and a reliable cooler for when I needed to go to work.
I used to hand express immediately after all of my daughter's feeds to make sure I emptied my breasts and save up whatever extra milk I could get. Every. Little. Drop. Counts!
I would also power pump in the evenings when I knew my daughter would sleep for a few extra hours. I eventually had extra milk which I could start freezing for rainy days and enough milk to last her for my 10-11 hr work days. Hooray!
Pumping At Work As A Prosecutor
When I went back to work, I was determined to make the time to pump. I work as a prosecutor and legal counsel, so I have to go in and out of the office to attend court and meetings.
While I was in the office, I was able to pump at my desk. I was lucky to share a room with a supportive friend and a boss who respected my need to pump and feed my baby girl. I spoke to my boss early on about pumping and what that meant - I have to pump here and there but I will get the work done. Sometimes my boss or colleagues needed to see me to discuss work, so they would come to my desk while I pumped. Some colleagues didn't mind it, some preferred that I go see them when I was done.
I would pump three times during the day for about 20 minutes at a time and then power pump once at night. Sometimes I had to have meetings outside of the office or attend conferences, so I would pump in the car or in toilets in between breaks or during lunch.
After a month back at work and getting into the pumping groove, my boss hits me with a bomb. I needed to travel half way across the world for a meeting in less than a month - this meant a total of 30 hours of flying, 28 hours on transit and being away from my daughter for 9 days. Time. To. Panic.
Building My Stash... Again
At that point my freezer stash wasn't great - I had milk but barely enough to last 3 days of feeds. I had less than a month to build up my stash!
I did my calculations and figured out how much milk I needed in the freezer and I went to work!
I power pumped three times a day, some times more if I had the time. At that point my daughter was sleeping through the night so I would power pump in the middle of the night too. I didn't mind the lack of sleep, I was determined. I kept a record of everything as well, I think that is very important and a great motivation tool.
Eventually I increased my supply and built up a freezer stash for when I would have to be away.
My Pumping Essentials
I found that the most important items I needed through my pumping journey were a trusty pump that had a built-in battery so I could pump wherever (Spectra S1), the accessories (and spares for emergencies!), right-sized flanges, a pumping bra, a nursing cover, a cooler (I used a small Fridge To Go cooler) and a bag that I could dump everything into (Thank you, Sarah Wells!).
Over the past 8 months of work, I am happy to report that I have survived and pumped through three overseas work trips, a number of out-of-office conferences/workshops and countless of painful hours away from my baby girl. She also went completely off formula sometime in her 4th or 5th month. I am so proud to be able to say I am nearing my 1 year goal of breastfeeding.
Despite the long hours at work and hardships, it's been a wonderful journey so far and thank you again Rina for your great posts and emails!
Thank you Hazimah for sharing your story with us. I think there are three big points that Hazimah shared here: mindset, determination and consistency.
- Change your mindset that you may not produce enough for your baby. Rather, do your best, because every little drop counts.
- Build up your determination to to give up on formula. Hazimah was very determined, This is why she could endure the hand expression and power pumping routine that she had built to her daily schedule. She also recorded everything to motivate herself on her achievement.
- Be consistent. The achievement that Hazimah got (such as quitting formula or building her milk stash) did not happen instantly or overnight. It takes weeks or even months. There's a process to reach that goal.
- Listen to your body. Just because Hazimah shared she did power pumping 3x a day, then you suddenly feel not good enough for not being able to do so. Each of us has our own limitation. I personally can't have too little sleep , otherwise I would turn into a scary monster for my kids =D. Find a way to work around our limitation and be content with it.
Milk Supply Boosting Tips That Hazimah Did:
- hand expression after direct latch
- power pumping
- use the properly sized breast shield for optimal result
- use a good quality breast pump (Yes, when you need to increase your milk supply, a cheap mediocre breast pump won't help)
And don't forget, if you have the budget, make pumping easier for you by investing on necessary pumping essentials, such as pumping bra, cooler bag, and breast pump bag.
Do you have a breastfeeding or pumping story to share? Leave yours in the comment or send it to me via email to get it published. You never know, your story may motivate other breastfeeding moms.