After a frustrating year on the tenure-track job hunt, my eyes are still on the prize, and I've learned that sheer will might be the most important quality required for this career track.
My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.
Please wait while my tweets load
Today is a much better day in the lab than Friday. I cried as I left for work this morning, but started feeling really good once I got in the lab. I've had adult conversations, gotten some serious experiments started for the week, and felt, for the first time in a while, like I'm doing something I'm actually good at. Of course, there's a guilty weight at the pit of my stomach for feeling this way, but I've been able to stay busy enough to (mostly) ignore it.
It hasn't been all shits and giggles, though. I'm finding it incredibly difficult to pump the same volume that Monkey is taking by bottle at home. I've stayed tuned in with Hubby to make sure I match him bottle for bottle, but I just haven't been able to keep up. My milk supply has worked well for Monkey up until now, but pumping just isn't the same. Maybe if I pumped every hour I could do it, but when would I work? I already feel like I'm living on borrowed lab time in between pumping sessions every three hours. I wonder what people would say if I walked around the lab in one of these contraptions.
So, after one full day back at work, Hubby and I have pretty much resigned ourselves to supplementing Monkey's feedings with formula, a decision that is leading to even more mommy guilt. I know one formula bottle a day isn't the end of the world, but I really wanted to keep Monkey exclusively breast-fed as long as possible, up to a year. After today, I don't know how any of the nursing-and-working mommies out there keep it up that long.
This post has been viewed: 447 time(s)
Yes, this is very diffiult. My wife had a similar problem when Mini-G started at daycare. First of all, you are doing a fantastic job! Little Monkey is doing great and it seems he even took to a bottle pretty well (hooray!!).
I will now launch into unsolicited (and sometimes obvious) advice based on things that helped my wife, so feel free to stop reading now . First, make sure that you are not even a little bit dehydrated. That cuts production A LOT. Second, and perhaps more difficult, try to find a comfy and quiet place to pump. Take a paper or laptop so that you don't feel pressured to get back to lab. Third, if you can figure out a time of day that you are most "productive" wrt to milk, try to do some extra pumping sessions. My wife used to pump right after feeding Mini-G in the morning because she could get extra production then but not later in the afternoon. After a while you body will adjust and make even more if you can "trick" yourself into thinking Monkey has ramped up demand.
I'm always REALLY impressed by women that pump while they are at work. Little Monkey is lucky to have such a super Mom!!
Another horrifying thought that just occurred to me: if I do get an interview(s) in the spring, how in the HELL am I going to pump while running around some unknown department meeting with faculty???????? I mean, what's more awkward - asking if they have a pump room, or leaking out during my seminar/chalk talk...
When they say supplementing with formula cuts down supply, they are correct. But then, so does stress. Also, skipping feeding at night cuts down on supply. But then, so does lack of sleep.
So you see, you will now constantly be pulled in two directions until you are done with breastfeeding. It's not a good thing to let the guilt build up. Though I wonder, breastfeeding (especially when working) is *hard*, and maybe the guilt helps people stick it out? In any event if you are starting to truly feel *bad* about it in any way, pay attention to that and get help.
It's important to remember that the science does *not* say that formula feeding is on par with poking holes in your baby with a rusty steak knife. It's really ok (and good for iron levels). That said, I really think breastfeeding can be very wonderful baby-bonding. I personally found it worth it for about 8 months (I pumped a LOT), but we *had* to do a lot of supplmenting. Do what you can.
You might know that I am feeding my son exclusively by puming, so feel free to email me with any questions about it! I have done a lot of research on how to keep up/increase supply, and i'd be happy to share that information with you if you're interested! Hang in there, and definitely don't feel guilty for giving Monkey a bit of formula a day. Any amount of breast milk is a HUGE benifit! Remember - a happy baby needs a happy mom, so do what you can without stressing yourself out, and don't worry about the rest!
Bah, forget mommy guilt - do what you need to do to feel happy, un-stressed, and sane.
Your milk supply will go up and down as you shift your schedule, paticularly when you're switching from giving him milk from the tap to primarily pumping. Don't worry too much about it. And don't fret about him starving - he'll be ok. (I know, easy for me to say "don't worry" from the sidelines - but I can tell you that all the stuff I worried about when my son was your son's age turned out just fine :))
For me the first 6 weeks of BFing/pumping were 100% hell, but afterward everything got a ton easier. We got into a groove and figured it all out, and in the end made it to two years, actually.
When are intererviews done in your field, and how old will your son be then?
What I would do is try to build up a supply of frozen milk before you go out of town for your husband to feed your monkey. And start building the supply now, not a week before you're about to leave. :). That way you can cut back on that extra pump session per day.
Anyway, with a freezer supply then you don't need to worry about feeding him, all you need to worry about is keeping your supply up and avoiding mastitis.
On the trip, pump first thing in the morning at your hotel before your interviews begin (when your breasts will be the most full). Keep a manual pump in your purse and some plastic pump bags to quietly pump in the restroom during the day if you need to relieve the pressure. (The Medela Harmony is pretty good, and small enough to fit in your purse). Ask for a break before dinner (no need to tell them why), and go back and pump a bunch with your electric pump. Then pump at night before bed. So, three solidly good pumps, a few small ones during the day to relieve pressure/leaking, and you should be fine.
First of all, Dr, O., fight the guilt: you are doing a wonderful job and formula will nourish your baby just fine, there is nothing wrong with it or you! Second of all, ditto on the dehydration/stress thing--try to have a bottle of water available at all times, and personally I am a crackpot about vitamin D: I take 1000 IU a day.
One thing that helped me was to pump every night before I went to bed (about 9-9:30 pm) as an extra session. This helped me build up a stock of extra milk, and helped my body keep ahead of my daughter's needs. At first you won't get much, maybe 2 oz, but eventually it will increase. Since it's a lot harder to control your daytime, that evening session was more relaxing and consistent, and I think that made a difference.
For daytime, I was lucky to have my own private office, so I could just close the door (with the "DND" sign because my students have a key, lol) twice a day and take care of business. I had to be really strict with my schedule to protect my pumping times (for me this was 11 am and 3 pm at first, now we're down to just once a day at about noonish). I blocked those times off in my calendar and did not make myself available for any meetings no matter how "important."I was blessed by nature (and that extra pumping session at night) to be pretty productive with a fast letdown, so it was always fairly efficient for me.
I had a few work trips early on, to study section and a conference, and more recently two talks at universities out of town. I just bit the bullet and contacted the admin help before the trips (the grants assistant for study section and the admin in charge of my schedule for the talks) and told them I needed dedicated pumping time at times X, Y and Z. They were extremely understanding and accommodating, finding me a room and discreetly scheduling in a "break" for each of the sessions, as well as offering refrigeration if I needed it.
My advice, if you really, really want to make more milk, is to try to protect your schedule as fiercely as you can. Six weeks is a tough time to have to go back out into the world, but at the same time I completely identify with the "guilt over not feeling guilty about leaving" thing. Hopefully your workplace is going to let you organize yourself as you see fit for this, and if so, just let yourself put this as a priority in your day. It will only be like this for a year (less since as babies get older and start solids/sippy cups you don't need to pump as much), so the impact on your work isn't as big as it feels like it is at the time. Your right to do this is protected by law as far as I know, so you can be firm in your request that your schedule gets respected.
I was very unsuccessful with breastfeeding due to very low milk production (thanks to the preeclampsia) and gave it up all together when my girls were about 6 weeks old. It was heart breaking because, well it wasn't what I wanted for my girls. But giving them formula didn't make me a bad mother any more than breastfeeding made me a good mother. There is just more to it than that.
Hang in there. Good luck with juggling act. And tell those guilty feelings to take a flying leap.
Oh, Dr O, I have no real words of wisdom here because I have zero experience with breastfeeding. But the rest of your commenters (except for Tideliar) clearly do, so you're in good hands! Just keep your chin up -- you can do this!
6 weeks is a hard time to go back to work. The lactation consultants I worked with said that BFing isn't really establisihed till 3 mo so you're still in the figuring it out phase. My kiddo went on nursing strikes after having the bottle so I had to exclusively pump till she started nursing again, then she refused the bottle and would only drink 2 oz all day in daycare. It's a rollercoaster and not a very fun ride, but in the end it all somehow works out. There are no easy answers, and you're not a bad mommy if you supplement or if you don't BF at all. But, if BFing is important to you, then there is a LOT of support out there to help you do it.
don't worry about the job interviews at this point. like a previous poster said, there are ways to make it work. I had a friend interview with a 5 week old baby, she brought her husband along and worked in nursing breaks (they gave her a room). It worked out and she got the job.
Thanks for all the words of support and advice; I don't see any of the advice as unsolicited at all!! :) And welcome to postdocmom from Lurkville. ;) In response to some of the comments:
-I definitely am not meeting resistance from boss, coworkers, or anyone else in the department about pumping. I have a private office (with a lock and no key) that I can use. It's more a matter of taking the time away from experiments, which is just going to require the best of my mad organizational skillz!
-To keep my supply up, I pump in the morning after I nurse (around 7:30/8am), three times while at work (11am, 2pm, 5pm), and once more before I go to bed (9/9:30pm), a couple of hours after I nurse Monkey to sleep. I'm hoping to eventually cut out the morning pump session, since it takes so much extra time when I'm trying to get out the door to work, but I'll wait until he's about three-four months old (he was 6 weeks as of Monday). Of course, as he starts eating less at night, that idea might become a pipe dream.
-The Monkey has slowed down on his eating the past couple of days, so I've been able to catch up on bottles and have even restocked a few of my frozen bags after feeding him in the evenings. My supply has always been really good with a very fast let-down, even with pumping. Monkey just started eating so much this past week - likely due to a growth spurt - that I got worried I wasn't making enough for him.
-Monday had been a great day for Hubby and Monkey, sleeping great, etc. Since I was so worried about my supply that evening, Hubby used a bottle of formula for his midnight feeding, and things fell apart right after. Monkey didn't sleep more than 4 hours total from that bottle until 8:30 last night, when we took him out for a drive. He slept 10 hours after that, but he's resisting sleep again today, so the car ride just might have to be a standby until he catches up on his sleep. I can't say for sure, but I worry that the formula threw off the start of a decent sleep habit. Only time will tell, but at least I'm making enough milk at this point to test out this theory.
Do what you need to, of course. Formula isn't poison, and you shouldn't feel guilty for using it. But- 6 weeks is a growth spurt, when you typically struggle to keep up with the baby's consumption even when you're not pumping. I think I commented before about how I had to nurse every hour at that time. Literally, every hour. In fact, with my first, I think I pretty much nursed non-stop for four hours one day. That only lasts a couple of days when breastfeding. I'm not sure how long it will take when pumping. It might be that your supply will be fine if you can just get the growth spurt bump in.
OK, one more thing. Have you tried fenugreek? I swear by that stuff. You can get it at health food stores (inlcuding Whole Foods, at least out here). You have to take enough to smell like maple syrup- for me, that was two capsules with every meal. It usually took a couple of days for me to notice the bump in supply. I also found increasing my protein consumption helped. It is a great excuse for some good steaks, if nothing else.
Good luck. I'm at the tail end of pumping now- my baby is almost 15 months old, and I am down to pumping 1x/day. I'll probably stop in January. I don't think I'll miss it, it certainly isn't fun. But I do get a little misty thinking about the end of it, probably because it means my baby is growing up!
Just writing to give you some support. All the other commenters did a great job with suggestions.
I went back to work when my younger one was 3.5 months and was pumping 3 times a day for a while, then down to 2. It worked out well. The entire time I was grateful for having my own office so I could pump whenever I wanted.
You are doing great, don't worry! But as someone said above, you do need to start freezing some for the time when you interview (you will have to dump all the milk you pump while traveling thanks to the no loiquids policy; what a waste) and when you interview you should be able to get away with a luchtime pumping and pre-dinner pumping in addition to morning and before bedtime pumping. I had a 2-day conference tri[ when my younger son was 4.5 months. I didn't pump before the conference dinner and as it ran late I started leaking through double pads before the dinner was over! Thank god for black shirts...