Hi I'm Savanna from Savvy and Sweet (if you stop by my site, it's been pretty quiet lately...life has been crazy, but what better way to get back into the blogging routine than with this post!) I'm a wife to a fantastic husband and a full-time working mom to two sweet boys who are 3 years old and 6 months old and I hail from the same area at Julie- Grand Rapids, Michigan! I'm going to take a little bit of a different spin on sharing my story here with you, and focus on my experience being a working mom and breastfeeding!
(two crazy little boys who never sit still!)
One thing you should know about me: if there is something I want, I can have some pretty fierce determination to get it. And it's a good thing I have this trait, because breastfeeding my first baby was a nightmare. Luckily, I got support from an amazing lactation consultant and although the first 3 months were quite rocky, I stuck it out and successfully nursed my son until he naturally weaned at 18 months. I'm sharing this background information for 2 reasons:
1. I figured if I stuck it out through our really rough start, there's no way that going back to work was going to stop me!
2. You read that right- I worked full time and continued to breastfeed all the way until my son was 18 months old.
I returned to work after a 12 week maternity leave. I can't exactly remember the timeline, but until my son was about 8 months old I pumped 3 times per day for 10 minutes each time every day that I was at work- religiously. Sometimes this was a bit of an adventure because I wasn't always in the office- sometimes I was out in the community meeting with volunteers or working at an event. One of the best investments I've ever made was to purchase a car adapter for my pump (I use a Medela Pump In Style and my original unit from baby #1 is still going strong 6 months in with baby #2!). That way, no matter where I was, as long as I had driven there, I could go pump in my car if no other options were available.
(working from home one day- pumping, working, and eating...now that's multi-tasking!)
When baby #2 came along just this past December, I was much more prepared to breastfeed- I actually knew what I was doing this time! That experience made a world of difference and it was smooth sailing from the start. I returned back to work again after 12 weeks of maternity leave and shortly after had a new situation to problem solve: I needed to travel from Michigan to Texas for a 3 day training. Bringing my husband and 2 little ones along wasn't really an option- usually any training or conferences that my employer plans make the most of the time- meaning every day is packed from about 8am to 10pm. Remember I said I'm determined (some may even say stubborn...), so I just took a deep breath and called upon my master planning skills.
- I called the hotel I would be staying at to make sure there was a fridge where I could store my pumped milk.
- I emailed the training hosts to arrange a place to pump during the day.
- I did some research about my airline (Delta) to find out what their rules related to breast milk were.
- I called Delta and asked if my pump would count as a carry on item (it doesn't because it's considered medical equipment!)
- I loaded up my pump's battery pack with fresh batteries along with a back-up set.
- I packed plenty of milk storage bags, my microwave steam sterilizer bag, and re-usable ice packs in a soft collapsible cooler.
The travel to Austin was a breeze- I didn't have any pumped milk with me yet, so I just explained at security that I had frozen ice packs in my pump bag for when I did have to pump later and they didn't give me any trouble at all. The first adventure however, was pumping on the plane. Yep, I pumped on the plane. From my seat. If I was going to pump in a cramped space, I would much rather it be from my seat than a germy airplane bathroom. I had also packed my nursing cover in my pump bag, so I used that to cover myself and the pump and got to work. I'm 5'10" with long limbs, so it definitely wasn't the easiest thing to do from my cramped seat, but it wasn't impossible either and I got the job done using my battery pack.
The three days of training went great and I just pumped as I would normally on any other work day- just with the addition of pumping at my hotel room in the morning and evening. My room's fridge had a freezer so I could easily keep my ice packs in there and have them ready when needed.
The true test was the travel home with about 60 oz. of pumped milk. I decided to say a prayer, cross my fingers, and pack my pumped milk in my cooler with ice packs in my suitcase that I would check. Yep, took a real leap of faith with that one! I knew that would be the path of least resistance with security though, so I decided to bite the bullet and go for it. I only had a very small amount (less than 3 oz.) of pumped milk with me when I went through security, so I didn't get any trouble.
I pumped in the Family Restroom of the Austin airport (it was a good size room that was private with a locking door and an outlet and a lot of counter space so it was pretty nice), and again from my seat on my flight from Austin to Grand Rapids, all without incident. Once I landed back in Grand Rapids, I waited impatiently at the baggage carousel. I grabbed my suitcase and took a deep breath. This was the moment of truth.
(That green bag is my cooler!)
Being a working nursing mother isn't always the easiest thing, but it's definitely not impossible. It takes some extra thought and planning ahead, but don't let that scare you! As the saying goes, if there's a will, there's a way. Thank you so much Julie, for letting me share my experience with your readers!