The Working Mom: Tonight I can’t ‘do it all, be it all’

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Let’s be honest. As working moms, there is SO much pressure on us to perform the impossible: be a dedicated employee staying late, but be the dedicated mom that leaves work early to not miss one ballet performance. And you know what? I’m not buying it. There is no such thing as balance. As working moms, we manage, and do our best as an employee, a parent, a student, a wife, a friend, an athlete, a volunteer, and the countless other things we are and do. But, even knowing there’s no such thing as balance doesn’t relieve us of the guilt we feel to do it all and be it all.

I wake up. See my daughter for about 15 minutes. Commute to work. Stay at work late. Get home late. See my daughter a couple hours. Get my daughter to bed late. Eat late. Clean up late. Pay bills late. And fall asleep sitting on the couch trying to make time for my husband.

Let me just tell you how my “balance” has gone these last few weeks:

– Most nights I go to bed late late because I get home at 7pm after picking my daughter up, and I still need to cook, feed her, spend time with her, and get her in the bath and off to bed. Then, after bedtime, begins the “adult” stuff like bills, cleaning, organizing, etc.

– Last night I was up a lot because my child wanted milk, and my husband was sick.

– This morning I got up early to check my work email, try to remember to put stamps on the bills, water the garden, and get ready before my daughter woke up.

– This morning I struggled to stay awake on my drive to work.

– The last few weeks I’ve been working overtime about three nights a week.

– The last few weeks I’ve forgotten bills, car oil replacements, lunch dates, doctor appts. and more because the overwhelmingly long checklist in my head and the few hours I have to fulfill them.

– The last few weeks I couldn’t sleep because I had a cold and my hips hurt when I lay down due to pregnancy and being in the third trimester.

Y’all, I’m exhausted.

They say…

“They” say I need to cook healthy and meal plan (that’s how to love my family and stay on a budget). They say I should go to bed early and get rest (if I want to take care of myself). They say I need to exercise every day (that’s to stay fit). They say I need to practice a hobby every day (that’s for future growth). They say I should be there for my family, but I should also stay late to meet a deadline (to be both a good mom and employee). They say I should limit my kid’s technology time (as a responsible adult). They say I should have her potty trained (if I’m any kind of parent…). They say I should move into a good home in a good neighborhood, but I should also not spend too much on a house loan and be saving money (for the future of my family).

Tonight, I can’t “be it all, do it all.”

Tonight I’ll eat pizza or mac and cheese because I stayed at work late and hadn’t had time this week to meal plan.

Tonight I’ll add water to the soap to make it last a few more days because I can’t seem to remember to buy any when I DO finally make it to buy groceries.

Tonight I’ll let my daughter play on the iPad past her bedtime because emotionally I need a little quiet time before trying to get her to bed.

Tonight I’ll sit in my chair and cry once she goes to bed, because I was too stern with her the third time she wanted her diaper changed in 15 minutes, but yet I hadn’t seen her all day and should have spent time loving on her.

Tonight, I’ll know that it’s okay, this is normal, and “this too shall pass.” That the hard mixes in with all the good, and the good memories and sweet moments remain as our strength.

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Tips for Working Moms: Get the Most Out of Your Pumping Sessions

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Hi Beautiful Mommies!

So you’re back at work, but still wanting to provide for your little bundle at home. I won’t lie, pumping is TOUGH! It’s tough emotionally, physically, and mentally. But, it’s so fulfilling and worth every minute. And, it gets easier, truly. After awhile, it’s just part of your normal routine and schedule. After one year of breastfeeding and working full time, I’ve accumulated a lot of time trying out techniques, gathering tips from other moms, and doing research. And, I’m here to share the best of it with you. You got this mama!!

So, first, The Basics:
Your milk supply works by supply and demand — so the more often you pump, the longer you pump, and the more consistent you are, your milk will adjust to this demand and grow; however, a pump will always pull less milk than your nursing baby, but that’s one disadvantage that we working moms just have to deal with. Don’t be discouraged though! EVERY drop counts. Did you know your milk’s composition adjusts to your baby’s needs as they grow older? Yep. Our body is pretty impressive.

The Tips:
This list is meant to give you the most out of your pumping sessions and keep and (maybe even) increase your supply. Pumping at work can be emotionally and physically draining, but hang in there. You’re surrounded by a community of mommies cheering you on. And your baby will thank you too!

1A GOOD PUMP: Have a high quality pump! Usually your insurance will give you choices of pumps that they will provide for you. I love Medela! I use the Medela Pump in Style Advanced.

2. A GOOD SCHEDULE: Make sure you have a good pumping schedule. Ideally, you want to pump when baby would be feeding. This isn’t always possible with different work environments and babies can nurse as often as every two hours in the first few months! Do what you can, and don’t stress if you can’t keep baby’s schedule perfectly.

3. BOTH SIDES: Pump both sides at the same time if you can. It’s more effective and will save you time. Also, your let down reflex will help jumpstart both sides instead of just one.(You can find hands-free pumping bras at the store. But, if you’re on a budget, get a cheap sports bra and cut small vertical slits in them.) I survived without a pumping bra and ending up pumping one side at a time, needing the other hand to continue working at my makeshift desk. If you can’t do them at the same time, make sure you pump both sides every session.

4. EXTRA ATTENTION: On the side that seems to have less milk, pump first on that side. When the milk stops flowing, switch to the dominate side until emptied, and then return to the side you began on (even if the milk doesn’t come). That being said, both breasts, every time.

5. DONT STOP WITH THE LAST DROP: Pump longer after the milk stops flowing. Sometimes continue pumping up to 5 minutes after — this tells your body that more is needed and eventually your supply will grow. If you stop pumping before the last drop falls, you tell your body that what’s left is not needed, therefore your supply will decrease.

6. CHEST COMPRESSION: Use your hand to squeeze and manipulate your breast while pumping. Often you can stimulate a gland that hasn’t been emptied. (But this shouldn’t be painful!!) Chest compression also can increase the fat content in your milk.

7. SUPPLEMENTS: I love using Gaia Lactation Support or More Milk by Motherlove. These lactation supports pills contain herbs that help you keep and increase your supply. You can also try lactation cookies, lactation teas, as well as specific foods such as oats. Always read the label before taking a supplement!

8. VISUALS, SOUNDS, AND RELAXATION: A mother’s letdown reflex can be triggered simply by a crying baby in a store! Although this can be inconvenient, it’s actually a plus for pumping moms that you can use to your advantage! Different visualizations, sounds, and relaxation techniques can help trigger this reflex. Think about baby nursing on you when pumping — envision it! Look at a picture. Listen to a recording of their coos. Or train that reflex to respond to other stimuli. Do the same activity right before pumping, consistently, to stimulate let down. Drink tea, then pump. Or, drink water, then pump. Do squats, then pump. Stretch, then pump…. something of the like. It’s your way of preparing your body by saying “I’m about to pump!”

9. BREASTFEED, BREASTFEED, BREASTFEED: Breastfeed as much as possible!! On weekends, before work, at lunch, after work, during the night…. (And don’t be discouraged by your baby waking up at night hungry. Breastmilk is digested faster than formula and your baby will need to nurse more often than formula-fed babies, especially during growth spurts!) Learn to love these sleepy night feedings. You will miss them someday! Those moments are sweet and few.

10. BE HEALTHY: Get plenty of food, rest, and keep hydrated! Take care of yourself too, mama.

11. EXTRA PUMP PARTS AND GOOD STORAGE: Buy extra pump parts so you don’t spend a lot of time at work cleaning the parts. If you have a Medela pump, you can buy extra parts straight off their website. Remember to pay attention to how long your milk is good for. Thawed (from completely frozen) milk should be used within 24 hours when kept in the fridge, while refrigerated milk (never frozen) is good for three (ideal) to eight (acceptable) days. Frozen milk however, can stay frozen up to three (ideal) to twelve (acceptable) months. Make sure to use appropriate sterile breastmilk bags for storage and squeeze out as much air as you can from the bag before freezing to keep it fresh. (Lay bag flat to freeze for optimal storage space.) (Check out more guidelines from the La Leche League here: http://www.llli.org/faq/milkstorage.html)

In the end, you may not be able to keep up with baby’s need. But, this is okay!!! Don’t be discouraged!!! ANY breastmilk is better than none — even if you only have time to pump every 4 hours or even only once a day — stick to it.

*Please contact a lactation consultant or perhaps the La Leche League if you have questions or concerns with your supply or breastfeeding. Contact your pediatrician if you’re concerned about your baby’s feeding/nursing habits or health.*

Good luck! And happy breastfeeding!