How Long Should You Breastfeed As a Working Mom?
How long should you breastfeed as a working mom? Well, we’re actually not going to tell you how long you should breastfeed. But, let’s talk about some of the common goals other working moms make. And, let’s unpack a couple of the problems moms run into when making a goal about breastfeeding/pumping. No matter what your goal is, New Little Life is here to help! It’s our mission to help working moms feel successful in combining breastfeeding and pumping, for however long they choose!
Pumping for Working Moms Program
That’s why we created the Pumping for Working Moms Program. To help moms like you feel like you can accomplish your breastfeeding/pumping goals! To find out more about our program book a consultation call, here!
(This post was originally a video. Check it out, here!)
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Most Common Goal for Breastfeeding for Working Moms
The most common goal we hear from working moms is that they want to make it to one year. Why is this such a common goal? It’s probably because before a year, if you stop breastfeeding or you’re not pumping enough, you do have to supplement with formula an artificial breast milk substitute. However, if you are past the year mark and you want to slow down pumping or slow down breastfeeding, you can use alternate forms of milk that are much cheaper and a lot of times easier to use. That one year mark is what a lot of working moms are shooting for.
Additionally, one year feels like a fairly manageable amount of time to pump at work. Now, in the United States, a typical maternity leave is about three months. So, then you’re looking at about nine months of pumping at work. 9 months can feel really overwhelming at the beginning! However, planning to go longer than that can be even more overwhelming. That’s probably why we see that one year goal for working moms pretty often.
Do You Think It’s Possible to Pump for a Year?
Although, after our research with working moms, we have discovered that sometimes they don’t think it’s even possible to breastfeed or pump for one year. Working moms in our program often say, “I’m just going to give it a try and see how it goes,” or “I’d like to make it to a year but I actually don’t really think that’s possible so I’m just shooting for six months and then I’ll go from there.”
In a lot of cases, what we hear is that moms are afraid to make long-term goals because they don’t actually think that it is possible. Maybe you’re trying to save yourself from some disappointment by not shooting high? Setting realistic goals is important, but don’t sell yourself short! You might just need some extra help in order to accomplish your best case scenario.
To be clear, we do not care how long you breastfeed or if you breastfeed at all! Allison, our founder, is a lactation consultant, a nurse and a mom who knows that you should do what works for you! There’s no judgment for how you feed your baby or how long you want to do it. If you want to breastfeed for two days, two weeks, two months or two years, that is your choice!
Let’s talk about a couple of things that get in the way of pumping for a year.
Fear of Judgment
First, fear of judgment or rejection. In general, if you tell someone that you want to breastfeed and pump for a year, they might say that will never happen or good luck (That passive aggressive tone is the worst!)
I got this a lot with my first baby. When I told people I wanted to have an unmedicated delivery, people told me that I was crazy or that I could never make it or that you know just keep the epidural in your back pocket just in case. I thought, I know these things and I’m not crazy, but this is what I want and I’m gonna try to do it. I hired professionals that could help me have an unmedicated birth. I switched providers several times till I found a midwife that would help me through that. I hired a doula and we took some childbirth classes. We did the things we needed to make sure I was able to hit my goal if at all possible.-Allison Tolman, IBCLC and founder of New Little Life
The same thing happens in breastfeeding and pumping. You’re not expected to do this by yourself! Some people that have never done it or maybe have failed before are probably going to project their own fears and embarrassment and shame onto you. Don’t let that affect your goals! It is absolutely possible to maintain your milk supply with a breast pump if you go back to work, as long as breastfeeding is going well and the milk supply is there.
It is not easy, okay? And moms should not be expected to do this by themselves. This nice quote from Darren Hardy said, “If you state your goal and they don’t laugh, it’s not big enough.” Keep that in mind.
Fear of the Unknown
Second, fear of unknown. This is a huge problem in the pumping world because we just don’t have easily accessible information or access to professionals that actually can help you with pumping. When you’re going back to work and you don’t really know what to expect, it can be really daunting. Here are some common fears:
- Will you be able to pump enough milk?
- How much will your baby eat at daycare?
- Is work going to be supportive or are the co-workers going to judge you?
- Can you actually fit pumping into your meetings, patient care or teaching schedule, whatever your job is?
Fear of the unknown can keep you from setting a goal that you actually want to meet. The best thing you can do is to give it a try! Set a goal and start down that path, any path really, but preferably one where you have the knowledge and support that you need.
“Blue Sky Thinking”
Sometimes we like to phrase it this way with people: what is your “blue sky thinking?” If there were absolutely no limitations, what would your goal be? What would your breastfeeding relationship look like as a whole without fear of the unknown? This can kind of help you keep that end goal in mind.
You do have to look at it realistically. Obviously, in the real world there are limitations in your life. But, reminding yourself what you actually want and why it is important to you can really help you move through some difficult days. That big picture goal is also a really great way to minimize the amount of effort and maximize the results.
What Can You Take Out of Your Schedule?
One of my favorite things to do with moms inside my Pumping for Working Mom’s Program is to see what we can take out of a mom’s life (schedule or routine etc) instead of what can we add in. I hate adding in pumping sessions. Power pumping is okay maybe for short term but can we adjust your schedule so you don’t have to? Pumping at night, let’s ditch that as soon as we can. It’s not always about what else you need to do.-Allison Tolman, IBCLC and founder of New Little Life
Sometimes you’re doing too much, getting in your own way and not remembering those goals. You might be inducing more milk than you need and just wearing yourself out.
Fear of Failure
Third, the fear of failure. Fear of failure is probably the most common fear that holds people back from their goals. Breastfeeding and pumping is no different. This can be especially hard if you’ve tried in the past and not met your goals.
Henry Ford said, “Failure is only the opportunity more intelligently to begin again.” When you’ve tried before, even if you didn’t meet your goals or you “failed” (we don’t like saying failed, instead we say you learned things!) we almost always see that with some help and support the next time will go much better.
Get the Support You Need
If you can figure out how to troubleshoot those problems, which we can help you with in our program, things will be better. Some common bad thinking in this area is, if I don’t try I can’t fail. People who consider the Pumping for Working Moms program are sometimes nervous about investing money for the help that they know that they need. Making that commitment can be scary! If you still don’t meet your goals then what happens? But, you are way more likely to meet your goals if you have the knowledge and support that you need.
You might be able to piece together all the info you need through trial and error. But, it will be significantly easier if you just come and join the plan that is there for you and have an expert in your back pocket to make things so much easier.
Milk Supply Anxiety
Moms often feel a lot of anxiety about milk supply. We hear moms say “with my last baby I worried about milk supply every single day. It was always on my mind. I was always worried I wouldn’t make enough milk and I wasn’t confident that I knew what I was doing.” This breaks our hearts! Milk should not control your life! Especially if you’re a working mom.
How to Manage Going Back to Work While Pumping
Working moms have so many responsibilities. You are transitioning into motherhood. And, you have this new little life that you are responsible for caring for and feeding and keeping alive. Home responsibilities are still there. Maybe you have a partner, maybe you have family, maybe you have other kids and then you also have a job and a career. Those demands don’t change because you had a baby. A lot of your relationships and family life does change when you become a mother, but your work likely does not.
Work expects the same things from you, in the same amount of time. But now, you also have to add in pumping and create milk for your baby.
Allison’s Has Been in Your Shoes!
I know how overwhelming that can be, I’ve been there! This video talks more about my journey and why my pumping schedule and stuff didn’t work. I didn’t quite meet my goals in the way that I wanted. I did make it to a year of pumping with my first one, but we were having to supplement quite a bit at the end and I just could not figure out what was happening. It was very frustrating. I remember the daily milk supply anxiety and having to readjust my goals multiple times. There was a lot of grieving that things didn’t go to plan. I didn’t have support from anyone who knew what they were doing.
This was eight or nine years ago and that support didn’t exist. But, it does now! I have built a step-by-step guide and I live in my program every single day. In the Pumping for Working Moms Program, I talk with you and work you through your pumping problems. This program is what I wish I had, a step-by-step guide and someone to help me with my individual situation. I’m very passionate about this specific group of people, these working moms who are combining breastfeeding and pumping. If that’s you and you want to work with me and get some help, book a consultation call today!-Allison Tolman, IBCLC and founder of New Little Life
Moving Forward Without Fear
Courage is not the absence of fear but moving forward in spite of it. We all have been faced with situations and things in our life that require courage, that are a little scary that have a fear of rejection a fear of the unknown and a risk of failure. This does not mean that you shouldn’t try, shouldn’t set those goals. Really look at what you want, why you want it and how you’re going to get there.
We can help you with the how part. If you want some help talking through why this is important to you and what it means, we can do that on our application call. Helping you figure out how important giving breastmilk to your baby is to you, is our passion.
Maureen from the Milk Minute Podcast said, “hope is not a plan.” That is 100% true! Just hoping that things go well is a very bad idea. If you want more help, if you want the calm confidence that you can do this, the Pumping for Working Moms Program is here for you! We can help you have the courage to move forward toward your goals in the way that works best for you.