I chose to breastfeed and have been fortunate enough to do so since the very beginning. I had a c-section and the minute they handed over my little man in the recovery room, he rooted around and latched immediately. He has basically eaten every three hours since.
Last week — after nearly 12 weeks at home — my maternity leave ended and I started the daunting task of pumping at work. It’s not always (or ever really) easy, but I find comfort knowing plenty of awesome mommas have paved the way before me.
As I navigate being away from my baby and pretending to be competent enough to do my job, here’s what I’ve learned so far about being a breastfeeding working mom.
1. You will get milk on nearly everything.
Nothing is safe. You’ll drip milk on your dress pants and smear it across your desk. No matter how careful you think you’re being, there’s something about pumping that makes even the most coordinated mom turn into a chicken with its head cut off.
2. You will get naked.
Okay, so you may not get completely naked, but you will probably end up topless at some point. Yes, there are great inventions like pumping bras and nursing covers. But if I’m being real, it’s a heck of a lot easier to take my top off and change my bra in my office than to wear a pumping bra all day — or worse yet…to pump without being able to go “hands-free.”
3. You will gross someone out.
While breastfeeding is a natural thing, it’s still a very taboo topic (which is lame). Someone may ask what you’re doing in your office with the door closed or you may run into someone while you’re on your way to put milk in the fridge (that you share with others — gasp!). You won’t need to hear actual words to know you’re freaking somebody out. I don’t want to make assumptions here, but that somebody is probably a childless male.
4. You will learn the true meaning of “engorged.”
Maybe a meeting runs over or you get distracted and forget to pump. Your body WILL remind you and you WILL feel like your boobs are going to explode. End of story.
5. You will feel like you’re failing, but you’re not.
As with life, some days are better than others. The first time I pumped at work, I got 10 ounces and almost held a parade. Then a few days later, I got three. Stick it out. You may feel like a failure sometimes, but you are sustaining life and that’s something to be proud of.