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Almost no maternity leave & freaking out about pumping...

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
So, smart me got hired for a great job while pregnant--I'm the family breadwinner, due in late June, this is my second kid. It's a great situation, my partner will be a SAHP, the job is excellent.

Now, the problem: because I was hired recently and am still on "probationary status", my maternity leave will be whatever sick/vacation days I have accrued at the time of the birth and nothing more, no option for unpaid leave, no option for medical allowance, etc.... Probably around 6 days total, so a week, roughly, considering it'll overlap with a weekend.

Quitting is not an option, unless I am forced to do so because of post-partum complications or an unplanned c-section or something like that that prevents me from going back to work. Finding another job at this point would be difficult and probably a waste of time... I *love* this job and I want to make it work.

With my first kid, I was at home until he was over 1 year old, and I did a very minor amount of pumping. I had no problems breastfeeding him.

Now, I'm looking at what the return to work will be like at around 1 week postpartum and I am worried. I know I should pump at work, but the idea of combining the physical recovery from birth and dealing with a newborn and a full time, stressful job, plus this whole pumping thing is starting to overwhelm me. To the point where I am wondering if I should even try it or just give up and do formula. Never in a million years would I have expected to even consider formula feeding by choice--but this mat leave thing has blindsided me.

Talk me into pumping? Tell me how to make it work? Or just tell me I am ridiculous and should be banned from reproducing? Anything goes...I doubt many people will have BTDT because this is a pretty outrageous situation and most people in my position would probably just quit the job, but I can't do that financially.
post #2 of 28

um.  Even if you don't have any vacation time, any good job would work with you to provide more leave than 1 week.  In fact, from a *liability* standpoint, I can not imagine ANY doctor signing off to release you back to work that soon, to be frank.  What does you dr say about that?  Have you contacted HR to see what the situation is?  My understanding is that the first 6 weeks after a birth is considered "disability", not like..vacation or whatever.  Has someone from your work actually said, in so many words "you must return to work 6 days after having a baby"?????

post #3 of 28

Honestly, there is no way physically you can go back after a week.  Doctors won't even sign off on driving a car that soon.  The first 6-8 weeks postpartum are considered a "disability" in HR terms, and I would think they would at least give you this time unpaid.  If not, you would NEED at a minimum 2-3 weeks for your own health after a standard vaginal birth, but breastfeeding will be more difficult to establish.  I'd insist on the standard 6 myself - I was a college student with my first and went back after 2 weeks.  I was still a bit sore, fell asleep at my desk quite often and could not really produce enough milk for my son - after weight loss on his part, we had to begin supplementing at 1 month and my milk dried up at 6 months.  Talk to HR as soon as you can about their short-term disability policy.  I'm almost certain they will work something out. :-)

post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I've done all of these things. My director even appealed to the head honchos in HR to see if they could make an exception to policy. Basically, they can't. And the situation would be the same if I DID have a disability, if I was in a car accident, any legit medical reason that would keep me out of work more than the leave time I have saved up. Employees in probationary status do not have any protections for medical situations. So, this is the situation I am facing--I've searched for loopholes, I know that legally they CAN do this.

As far as physical recovery, I don't need a doctor's clearance to go back to work or drive a car. I've never heard of that being a requirement post-partum?? My midwife is really angry at my employer but says we will plan ahead to make it work, like helping me get my iron levels up high before birth for a smoother recovery, etc...My job is not physically strenuous, mostly sitting at my desk, driving in a car, etc. I'm also confused how it is possible to say that I can't physically go back to work at a week when many mamas don't have help post-partum, have other kids to take care of, don't have a partner, etc...and they are definitely up and around within days and I'm sure many a low-income mama has found themselves in my situation of go back to work now or get fired. Not saying it will be fun but physically impossible?
post #5 of 28

My best recommendation re: pumping would be to make sure that you buy/rent a GOOD hospital-grade pump. It can make all the difference in terms of comfort and keeping your supply up.

post #6 of 28
It can and has been done. Many teen moms only miss one or two weeks of high school, and make it work because they have to. So yes, you can do it! And while you may end up needing to supplement with some formula down the road, it is not a foregone conclusion that it will happen. Some moms only pump (no BF at all), and manage to make it a full year. With evening/weekend BF, your supply should be better and give you a decent chance of pumping enough milk for your little one.

The first thing you need is the best dual electric pump you can lay hands on, plus a hands free pumping system and a private place to pump while working. You will need to pump about every two hours for 30-40 minutes at a time to establish a good supply. It would also be ideal if your DP could bring baby to you for at least one in person nursing session a day, maybe at your lunch break. Get several sets of pumping supplies (horns, valves, bottles, tubes) so you can have one in the washer, one with you, and if possible a backup one at work. If you can work and pump at the same time it will make it easier because you won't put it off until that e-mail is answered, phone call made...etc. And make sure you get a car adapter for your pump. Car adapter + hands free system + daily commute= perfect pumping time!

Could you help ease the situation by say taking four full days off, then working four half days? I usually feel pretty chipper about a week PP, but tire quickly. I think everyone can agree that the situation is less than ideal, but we do what we have to do.

For more info about pumping, check out the PumpMom board at yahoo and the book Working Without Weaning. Good luck!
post #7 of 28

I am not sure you can leave a 6 day old baby and not be FF, honestly. I'm so sorry for the situation you are in but you would need to be pumping a TON and the baby really may need to be fed every 30mins at that age. Also you are going to be an absolute zombie b/c we all know babies are up waaaaaaay to frequently at that age. I mean you are leaving a less than a week old baby for how many hours a day? That is going to be so hard on you and so hard on the baby and your SAHP. I thought there were laws against this kind of thing...

post #8 of 28

You're not ridiculous at all and definitely shouldn't be banned from reproducing (well, I don't know you, but nothing you said in your post would make me think so!).  You're just in a kind of tough situation.  I would encourage you to try to provide your baby with as much breastmilk as you are reasonably able to provide.  But please don't guilt trip for giving some formula or ending up completely formula feeding if that's what happens.  Breastfeeding is great for a lot of reasons and your baby will benefit from any of your milk he can get.  That said, we all make the best decisions we can for our children and you should be proud of providing for your family by working.  I agree with the PP who said to pump while commuting.  It works great and saves precious time.  Pump as often as your job reasonably allows especially during those first weeks.  I suspect your director may not expect you to be too productive those first weeks since he tried to get you more time off.  He may understand that you have to be there to keep your job, but have a realistic idea about of what can be expected of you given that you will have just given birth.    

 

Is there a way your baby could spend all or part of the day at work with you for a few weeks?  Most newborns sleep a lot and really wouldn't be disruptive.   


Edited by mamatoElias - 4/17/11 at 11:39pm
post #9 of 28

Also if you have to don't forget about donor milk! Human milk 4 human babies has a facebook now!

post #10 of 28
Is it an option to work from home, even for a week or two? Or even partial days from home?

Honestly, I'm surprised at folks jumping on the formula bandwagon so quickly. If anything, you may get stuck with an oversupply: if you pump out all the milk you're making in the beginning, you'll keep yourself stimulated at the post-birth, super-high milk level! Plus, don't forget that there are lots of EPers, plus you'll still be able to nurse during evenings and weekends. And as a second-time mom, you know how nursing is supposed to work, so I think there are a lot of points working in your favor. smile.gif

I agree wholeheartedly that it will be hard to leave your itty bitty baby, and pumping will be a pretty big task, but it's definitely doable. Do invest in a solid electric double-pump, at least the medela or ameda, as well as anything you may need/want to be able to pump hands-free. (I do this, but lots of folks like those special bras.) I think every 2 hours for 40 min. is a bit on the high side... I like to pump through at least a 2nd letdown, for every missed feeding plus one or two extra pumping sessions in the beginning until the supply is well established. If your partner could help you with the milk storage/freezing, pump-cleaning, bottle measuring, etc. that will be a big help, too.

It's definitely possible! orngbiggrin.gif
post #11 of 28
Jack Newman has a great protocol for mom working outside the house. Most of it applies to a little later 3-6 months but it might just be the push you need to keep pumping for the first few months knowing it will get better.

One thing he talks about is how a lot of babies will sleep 8-12 hours straight a night from a young age and get all their feedings in during the day so you can reverse this for some babies and give some good feedings when you get home from work through the night and before you leave and the baby will take a break from feeding while you are at work (this is of course for babies a little older). He also mentions alternatives to using a bottle such as cup or spoon feeding so as not to interfere with the latch when you do feed him if you hope to get most of his feeding in when you are at home eventually. I do this somewhat right now, most feedings are through the night so I don't have to worry about my storage so much since I can't keep pumped milk since I travel a lot. though I suggest a family bed for this, I don't think I could get up and go to his room for 4 feedings a night but right now I barely wake when he needs to feed.

I am a SM who works FT and BF exclusively when I am at home. It is more tiring but once you get in the rhythm it is fine.

I don't know if it is on the sheet I will link to or a different one but I returned early to work as well, though my early was more at three months not a week, so he talks about how it is better to start solids early if storage is low than to move to formula and I ended up doing this. If it is a different sheet I will try and find it.

For me at the beginning I had to pump when baby ate otherwise I would be empty and full at the wrong times. I also couldn't skip feedings because my supply would go down if I did this for more than a couple of days. I found it very helpful to be scheduled - not my DS, I kept track if his schedule for a week and then would follow his schedule and put it into my schedule for work.

It is hard , I will admit especially the first few crazy months of figuring it out and well worth it. Just remember there are alternatives if you can push through the first three months.

http://www.drjacknewman.com/help/When%20Mother%20is%20Outside%20the%20Home.asp
post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamatoElias View Post

You're not ridiculous at all and definitely shouldn't be banned from reproducing (well, I don't know you, but nothing you said in your post would make me think so!).  You're just in a kind of tough situation.  I would encourage you to try to provide your baby with as much breastmilk as you are reasonably able to provide.  But please don't guilt trip for giving some formula or ending up completely formula feeding if that's what happens.  Breastfeeding is great for a lot of reasons and your baby will benefit from any of your milk he can get.  That said, we all make the best decisions we can for our children and you should be proud of providing for your family by working.  I agree with the PP who said to pump while commuting.  It works great and saves precious time.  Pump as often as your job reasonably allows especially during those first weeks.  I suspect your director may not expect you to be too productive those first weeks since he tried to get you more time off.  He may understand that you have to be there to keep your job, but have a realistic idea about of what can be expected of you given that you will have just given birth.    

 

Is there a way your baby could spend all or part of the day at work with you for a few weeks?  Most newborns sleep a lot and really wouldn't be disruptive.   


yeahthat.gif  All of it! And especially the part about taking your baby to work with you. I remember taking my DS to a couple of meetings at the beginning of an internship. He literally slept through them, wrapped snuggly in a moby wrap. Not sure what your work environment is like, but it can be a great solution if it works.

 

Also, I don't know how comfortable you feel with your boss (though sounds like you are on good terms) but maybe you need to really sit down & discuss how to make things work within the confines that HR has set for you. Working from home, taking baby, breaking up your day so that you can go home to nurse, taking a couple of extra days, etc. are all options that might come up. But do what you need to to feel prepared & the least stressed as possible. 

 

Good luck! You will find a way to make it work!

 

post #13 of 28

Can your DP bring the baby up to your work for a while so you can nurse?  That would be easier/quicker than having to pump, and might be better for your production since it's such a supply and demand dynamic, with the first few weeks being really important for the long-term. It seems like if your boss is cool with you pumping frequently, they should be okay with nursing the baby, at least for the newborn period.  Otherwise, I would plan to pump every 2 hours, just as you would likely be feeding the baby if you two were together.  I agree with a hospital grade pump being a must. 

post #14 of 28

I returned to work at 2 days PP with my last baby.  It was only about a 6 hour day, but taking time off simply wasn't an option.  For the first month I took the baby with me- he was not at all disruptive, I popped him in the moby and nursed him most of the day.  Any time I took to soothe him was less than I would have needed to take to pump.  As he was awake more and had longer stretches between feedings he began to stay home with my husband.  I would pump and either head home to nurse and cuddle at lunch, or have DH bring him to me if I wasn't going to be able to get away.  He did switch to reverse cycle by about 6 weeks, and that continued past one year.  He nursed most of the night. 

 

I was tired, but we made it through. 

 

If you can't find a way to connect with the baby for the first few weeks though, you really do need to ask yourself how you will handle that.  It's harder than you expect to try to walk away from a newborn.  We simply are not made for that to happen, and it is hard on the baby as well. Unpaid leave?  Seeking another job though you like this one a great deal?  

 

Even with the way I managed to arrange things, I will never again go back to work without at least a 6 week maternity leave.  I bled for about 3months straight because I didn't take the time to properly recover, and the PPD was almost insurmountable.  Please think hard before you go down that path. I do understand that there simply may not be another option, and that reality makes me incredibly angry at the world we have created. 

post #15 of 28

I want to say too of course I did not mean to discourage BFing or say you just need to FF I am just concerned that it may be too hard. However I had it in my mind she would need to pump way more than every 2 hours for a 6 day old. I mean a 3month old sure but 6 day old? IDK maybe I am a weirdo but I had to nurse DD every 30-45mins until she was like 3 m/o anf that was for 30+ mins as well. If I had to pump for her it would practically have to be continuous, especially since I did not respond well to the pump. When I first pumped I only got 1/2 oz in 45 mins! Also how will you manage getting a freezer stash for the 1st day back?

 

To the person who said babies sleep form 8-12hrs without nursing I would like to know what babies do that?! My DD just NWed at 18 m/o and she would nurse every 45mins at night until 3 months old, then every hour or two until about 6 m/o then 3-4x a night until a year and then 2 or so times a night until now. This whole time I have been a SAHM and nurse on demand.

 

I would think that the baby will want to be latched non-stop at night especially for the bonding, it will be hard. Hopefully you will be able to sleep through it soon. Also when you come home from work he will probably nurse every 30 mins or something. Nipple confusion at 6 days old could definately happen...IDK if you could do a cup or something at least until he is 6 weeks? If you haven't already find a LLL group b/c I feel like you are going to need a lot of support through this.

 

Good luck mama I truly hope it all works out. This country is so insane when it comes to birthing and maternity leave ect. It is so sad.

post #16 of 28

I would be totally overwhelmed, too, in your shoes. I can't even *imagine* it. Give yourself some space to breathe/digest/mourn that short maternity leave.

 

But really, you can do it. Pumping isn't great but you can make it work. You may need to supplement because of stash issues but so what? 3 times at 10-15 isn't a huge burden on your workday or employeer'

 

Familiarize yourself with your state laws and figure out a reasonable plan if you don't have an office.

post #17 of 28

Great advice up above!

 

Will your dp be willing to finger-feed for at least the first couple weeks? I don't see that as being harder than bottle feeding, and it might help baby get established with bf.

 

Also try to get really bf-friendly bottles like these: http://www.amazon.com/Adiri-Natural-Nurser-Ultimate-Bottle/dp/B000VUN41G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=baby-products&qid=1303276994&sr=8-1

 

You can do this....it's not ideal, but you can do it. Pumping is a pain, but not really that bad. You get breaks to think about your baby, and the let-down releases happy hormones :)

post #18 of 28

For those who don't think pumping every 2 hours will be enough for a newborn, I wanted to say that I was a gestational surrogate and pumped exclusively for 4 months.  I never pumped more frequently than every 2 hours.  I started a new full-time job 3 weeks after the baby was born.  I got to work early, pumped right before I started my shift, pumped through my lunch break (30 minutes), then pumped as soon as I got home.  At home I pumped more frequently, but I stopped pumping at night by about 6 weeks.  Aside from a few days after the baby and his family got home and were waiting for my first shipment of milk, he did not need any formula until I stopped pumping.  So it can definitely be done.

 

Newborns do eat frequently, but it's not like you can only pump as much as the baby would be eating at that particular time.  I'm sure in one lunch break session I pumped enough for a few meals.

post #19 of 28

Well that is definately good to know!

post #20 of 28

I work for WIC and we unfortunately see a lot of moms in your situation. It is very difficult, but its not impossible. There are moms who manage to fully pump because their babies are in the NICU or because they can't get the baby to latch. You will at least have the advantage of nursing the baby when you are home. There is some good advice above.

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