The Mrs. The Mommy. The M.D.: Working/Schooling Outside the Home and Still Breastfeeding

Friday, March 14, 2014

Working/Schooling Outside the Home and Still Breastfeeding

Everytime I talk about breastfeeding, this "Making the Band" Chapelle skit pops in my head...
:singing in "Bad Boy" voice : "Breast-miiiilk"
Isabelle will be 8 months old this week!! I cannot believe it. This week is doubly big because I decided that I am not going to pump anymore, and will just breastfeed her when she is with me.

My supply has been diminishing since my OB-GYN sub-I in January. Unfortunately, I just didn't have enough time during the day to pump as much as I should of. Despite the 12+ hour days, I continued to pump - usually once a day for about an hour when I got home. Babygirl has a healthily growing appetite, so in February, we decided to start supplementing during the day. This basically meant while she was at daycare, she would get half breast milk with half-formula.

Last month, when I would come home from my 10+ hour stints in the ED, I continued to sit on the pump for at least an hour trying to force my body to squeeze out 8 oz of milk so I could "break even". And because some of my shifts did not end until 2AM, sometimes I was up as late as 4AM (ugh it was ridiculous). It was exhausting and pretty much sucked.

As bittersweet as it is to see my freezer milk reserve dwindle, this is also a huge weight off my back. As Izzy has started sleeping through the night, it kind of eliminates the need for night time breast milk too, and my body got the hint pretty quickly. I'm so proud of how long I was able to exclusively breastfeed throughout rotations, traveling on interviews (yes, I took breast milk with me through airport security LOL), changing schedules, so I am not going to beat myself up for ditching the pump and leaning on formula a little bit more.

That being said, in an effort to help those student mamas who may be embarking on the daunting task of schooling or clerkships while lactating, here are some of the tips and tricks I picked up along my way...

1. Stake out all the lactation rooms ahead of time: Usually hospitals are pretty lactation-friendly and have at least one room designated for pumping. The children's hospital on campus, has like "The Bellagio of Pumping Rooms". It makes sense - with the place swarming with kids and one of the state's largest NICUs - you want breastfeeding to be common and accessible. I have noticed, however, that very few women sign out the pumping room key... I also had access to a great room at the Women's hospital while I was on my OB-GYN Sub-I.

Racks on racks on racks...of breast milk
2. Ditch the bags: I started out with storing my milk in the Lansinoh bags, but words cannot express how disappointed/sad/betrayed (yes, dramatic, I know) I felt when my milk started LEAKING from the bags during the thawing process. It was like a daily, not to mention stressful, toss up as to whether or not I would get the full 6oz from a bag or if it would just make a mess in my fridge. Grrrr I think I cried more over spilled milk with Isabelle than with Nate.

That's when I switched to the Mother's Milk Mate storage system (shown above) and loved it. The only drawback was that unless you buy two racks, and take up ridiculous freezer space, you can only store 10 bottles at a time. I know, 10 is decent, but at one point I was a lactating machine. Wasted liquid gold SUCKS, so stick to bottles! Easier to store, less spillage, great for mommies who bring milk back home. No they are not paying me for this endorsement. I'm just a satisfied customer :-)

3. Commit to pumping at least one time per day and "try" to stay consistent. I started pumping the day after we got home from the hospital with Isabelle. Every night I would have her dad give her a bottle so I could pump as close to 5PM as possible. Within a few days, I could feel that my supply had come in and I could pump 12-14oz in one sitting! Things of course changed when I went back to the wards. Pumping at the same time can be near impossible if your break time is dictated by whatever happens during that particular day. You may find that you don't have time to pump at all - like me. So just make sure when you get home you can pump at least once or twice throughout the evening. Even if you only can get a few ounces at first, stick with it! You will be surprised at how smart our bodies are, and it will respond by increasing galactogenesis (fancy, huh?) during times of "higher demand".

4. Relax: Stress inhibits let down, so try and not obsess over how much you are pumping while you are pumping.

5. If you find your supply going down, drink up! Try one of these...



Of course, first consult with your doctor to make sure that it's an option for you. I found that my body really responded to the teas with both babies, but they gave Izzy gas so I couldn't drink it as often as I would have liked. The Gaia tea is at Kroger and I think Whole Foods carries Milkmaid Tea.

6. DO NOT try to reinvent the wheel: You know I am always talking about working "smarter and not harder". So talk to other breastfeeding mamas!  Before I headed back to school, I picked the brain of one of my classmates who went through this a year ago with her daughter. She had SO MANY awesome tips for the best places to pump during our clinicals and for pumping-on-a-time-constraint. One of which was to keep your bottle-flange set up in a cooler/fridge in between pump sessions so you don't have to waste time washing them out during your precious break time. Genius, right?! KellyMom is a great resource too!

Happy Breastfeeding!





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