World Breastfeeding Week 2023/ Working and Breastfeeding

#breastfeeding #breastfeedingeducation nationalbreastfeedingmonth pumpingmom wbw Aug 07, 2023
My experience as a young working Mom

Today is the last day of #WBW 2023 and the kick off to National Breastfeeding month. #WBW2023 will focus on breastfeeding and employment/work. It will showcase the impact of paid leave, workplace support and emerging parenting norms on breastfeeding through the lens of parents themselves. Target audiences including governments, policymakers, workplaces, communities and parents will be engaged to play their critical roles in empowering families and sustaining breastfeeding-friendly environments in the post-pandemic work life. This is a topic very dear to my heart for a couple of reasons. When I had my first baby, I was working a retail job that did not have any extra paid time off programs for new moms. I had to go on a program called FMLA which meant Family Medical Leave Act. I was forced to stop working a few weeks before delivery due to an injury and that took time and money out of my FMLA. Once my baby arrived, I had 3 weeks of paid time off and the remaining 3 weeks were not paid at all. I had to go back to work at exactly 6 weeks postpartum. I was still healing, I barely stopped bleeding and my exclusively breastfed baby was not forced to take a bottle and I had to start pumping around the clock. It was extremely stressful and overwhelming for a new mom. At that time, I had no other choice but to go back and insure that financially , my family would be OK. My husband was working two jobs so that I would be able to stay home until 6 weeks with our new baby. Once I went back to work, I was determined to keep nursing and did everything in my power to make it work. I Pumped early in the morning then nursed my baby before I went to work. At lunch time I would drive home (luckily it was only a few minute drive) then, I would nurse my baby on one breast while pumping the other breast to ensure he had plenty of milk while I was gone. I was lucky to have had my mother move in with us to stay with my son and care for him while we were at work. Without that support I don't know how I would've made it work. We managed to keep up this routine for a whole year! It still had it's ups and downs and it was never easy but I wanted nothing more then to provide my milk for my baby, so I made it work. A few years later when I had my son, I was finishing Midwifery school and started working for WIC. The biggest blessing was getting hired for a job that allowed me to bring my baby to work with me. Being a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor at the time, gave Mothers the opportunity to work and have their babies with them for 1 year. I was able to drop my older son off to school and take my breastfed baby with me while supporting other mothers who were also breastfeeding. I taught breastfeeding classes and my baby was the example to empower mothers that they could do it too! I am so grateful for that experience because it really inspired me to want to support and educate mothers who felt that they couldn't continue breastfeeding if they were going back to work. Where there's a will, there is a way! I'm glad the United States Breastfeeding Committee is bring this subject out to forefront. We need paid time off for parents who are having a baby. Both parents should be able to rest, heal and bond with their new baby. Mothers should have better options for nursing and going back to work. Employers should be educated and the many benefits of supporting their employees through breastfeeding & pumping. Whether at work or working remotely.