Almost no maternity leave & freaking out about pumping... - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-17-2011, 11:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

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Old 04-17-2011, 11:47 AM
 
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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"?????


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Old 04-17-2011, 12:27 PM
 
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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. :-)

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Old 04-17-2011, 01:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

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Old 04-17-2011, 04:57 PM
 
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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.


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Old 04-17-2011, 05:12 PM
 
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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!

CD'ing, homebirthing, milk making school teacher. Supporting my family on my income and trying to get out of debt in 2013!
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Old 04-17-2011, 05:13 PM
 
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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...


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Old 04-18-2011, 12:17 AM
 
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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.   


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Old 04-18-2011, 07:38 AM
 
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Also if you have to don't forget about donor milk! Human milk 4 human babies has a facebook now!


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Old 04-18-2011, 09:05 AM
 
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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

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Old 04-18-2011, 10:57 AM
 
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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.

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Old 04-18-2011, 07:49 PM
 
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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!

 


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Old 04-18-2011, 07:57 PM
 
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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. 


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Old 04-18-2011, 08:02 PM
 
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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. 

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Old 04-19-2011, 07:33 AM
 
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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.


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Old 04-19-2011, 02:43 PM
 
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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.

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Old 04-19-2011, 11:26 PM
 
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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 :)


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Old 04-20-2011, 03:16 PM
 
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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.

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Old 04-20-2011, 08:01 PM
 
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Well that is definately good to know!


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Old 04-20-2011, 08:49 PM
 
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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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Old 04-20-2011, 10:28 PM
 
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I'm in my first week postpartum now. Just wanted to say: because my babe is doing her part to get my milk supply going, my guess is that you might be able to pump quite a bit of volume.

 

If you think about it, engorgement is a common problem in the very beginning. Use that to your advantage! Pump whenever you are full and pump after your DC eats. This should keep your supply up and give you plenty to pump when at work. Plus you can build a stash.

 

You may want to taste test your milk early on. I found out that I had soapy tasting milk (an excess of lipase, I believe). I was never sure if my DS minded or not, but I wound up dumping my early stash. After that I began scalding everything. So you might scald, or test first to see if your milk tastes funny/soapy after a few days. You'd hate to lose any stash you accumulate.

 

Good luck! You will either get all the milk you need (and then some), or you will at least get SOME milk. And I think that some has some advantages as well. I worked and pumped and had to supplement with organic formula at 9 months, but baby nursed well when I was home. (Don't forget that part! If you keep up your supply your babe will likely nurse all night with you and in the mornings if you have time, plus all weekend as well.)

 

Reduce stress all you can. Keep hydrated and keep your calories up. I had a difficult time with supply whenever I wasn't eating well.

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Old 04-21-2011, 08:55 PM
 
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US social healthcare and maternity standards are frickin' abyssmal!  How is it not illegal for a company to knowingly hire a woman of child bearing age and then deny her appropriate medical leave for the birth of her children?  Family values, my patooky!  Even in the developing world women get a minimum of three months leave and that doesn't include any normally given vacation time!  AND you get six months of nursing leave (given one to two hours free in the schedule paid to nurse or pump) and up to another six months nursing leave unpaid.  and if there are more than ten mothers with children under the age of one in the company some countries even insist on a onsite nursery for the infants....that's Latin America, in The DEVELOPING WORLD!  And the richest nation in the world is sending women back to work before they've even had a chance to stop bleeding. WTF?!

 

Okay, rant over.

 

So, yes.  It IS possible.  I second the idea of bringing baby to work and pumping every two hours.  Get a good quality pump, WIC in some states does offer pump loans, I hear.  Make sure you eat well, get enough rest and just let that baby latch as much as possible.

 

I hope the job is amazing! 

 

 


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Old 04-23-2011, 06:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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First of all, thank you so much to everyone who replied!! I just got a chance to read through all of the responses and I am taking notes. I also have an appointment scheduled with a local lactation consultant who specializes in helping moms go back to work and pump successfully--she does a one on one class about how to prepare and how to keep things going smoothly.

I have stopped freaking out about pumping and decided to just approach this as I'm going to get a really good plan together and give it my best shot and hope that it works out for the best. Supplementing wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, but I don't think I need to do anything drastic in the beginning like not even try to BF...I was feeling very overwhelmed about the whole thing at first, but I am trying to take it in small pieces and make it manageable.

So, here are some ways I'm thinking to make it work:
-I have confirmed with my job that we have a lactation room, so things are good there, and I get a morning & afternoon break, plus lunch to pump...
-For the first week or two, my partner is going to bring the baby to the city I work in and meet up with me on my breaks and lunch, I think that will help ease the transition to work.
-I definitely want to try to get a system going where I can pump while commuting--that seems like an ideal time.
-I want to get an electric double pump, best on the market, and get a hands-free, car-adaptable pumping situation worked out. I found out that I JUST barely don't qualify for WIC after the baby is born, my income is like a few hundred a year too much, so I'll have to make that investment on my own.
-I can't bring the baby into work with me--I work with families in crisis, so it is not safe to have a baby around while dealing with clients who might be hostile, high on drugs, in the middle of a domestic violence situation, etc...
-To avoid PPD and help ease the recovery, I am upping my iron levels before birth and after going to do placenta encapsulation.
-I agree with someone who said that the first few weeks are going to be the tipping point--getting my milk supply established and making sure I am pumping frequently enough to do that. Realistically, pumping every hour at work is not going to happen. Every two or three hours is doable, but will that be enough? I am hoping so but I think this is a wait and see situation...
-Avoiding nipple confusion in the first few weeks--I'm going to talk with the LC about how to best do this, either with eyedroppers or finger feeding or some other solution...and picking the right kind of bottles after we switch to those.
-Pumping a lot in the first few days after my milk comes in and before I am back at work to be able to have a stash.
-Keeping supply up by eating and drinking a lot, using mother's milk tea/fenugreek, eating oatmeal, etc.

raising my two sunshine children.

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Old 04-23-2011, 09:15 AM
 
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It sounds like things are coming together in your plan, and that is great! Every two hours or so should be enough to establish a good milk supply. After a couple months, depending on how you respond to the pump, you should be able to cut the pumping back to about once every four hours and be okay. At eight months in, I can get plenty pumping during my commutes and at lunch, so three times a day.

The pump will be expensive, but it is the most important part of the equation. You can see if your OB will write you a script for one, which may help if your insurance has coverage for medical devices. And I know what they say about most pumps being single user only, but now that I have used one and know how they work, I would feel fine buying and using a lightly used one off eBay or craigslist. And get a general hands free system, not brand specific, like an easy expressions one or pump ease one. That way if you need to change brands you won't have to replace your hands free system too.

As for bottles, we use the breastflow bottles by first years and they are great. I really wanted to switch to glass, but all the bottles I tried had much faster flows than the breastflow bottles. I think my letdown is faster than those bottles, which is perfect for establishing a preference for the breast over the bottle. So in your quest for the perfect bottle, keep those in mind. Also, a supplemental nursing system ( SNS) can make finger feeding a lot easier for your DP. Maybe ask your LC about it. Good luck and remember that every ounce you pump is one less ounce of formula you have to buy.

I'm trying to get a pumping moms tribe going in the tribal section. Hopefully that will take off. Drop by there if you have any questions once things get rolling.

CD'ing, homebirthing, milk making school teacher. Supporting my family on my income and trying to get out of debt in 2013!
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Old 04-26-2011, 03:26 PM
 
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i know i'm coming late to the party, but i just want to say that lta with Lunar lady. Also, i would have been ready for a desk job at 1 week pp with this most recent birth, but not with my son's birth. It really depends, and there is no reason not to give it a shot.


Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdadsuperhero.gif and mom to DS babyf.gif24 months, and DD boc.gif 8 months! .

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Old 05-01-2011, 12:24 AM
 
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thumb.gif Yay! Update as it unfolds and let us know how it goes--we are here to support you!! Your plan sounds solid; if it can work then your plan will make it work. I think having the babe come to you at work to feed for the first few weeks is going to really help a lot. What pp said abt establishing breast preference--ITA. Slow flow bottle baby will have to work at, hopefully your baby will prefer the fast let down from the breast.


Happy and in love with my family!
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Old 05-02-2011, 04:16 PM
 
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hug.gif Hope you are managing alright OP


 Young born-again mama and loving wife peace.gif to DH jammin.gif and SAHP to two crazy girls dust.gifwehomebirth.jpgfly-by-nursing2.gifslinggirl.giffamilybed1.gif and believe gd.giflactivist.gif  signcirc1.gif !

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Old 05-08-2011, 10:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks! i will try to post an update after the baby is born and let everyone know how things turned out...that may or may not happen because i have a feeling i am going to be quite busy though! right now i am doing well, i feel great physically and i am getting everything ready for the birth and the baby and getting settled into my new job. everything else is out of my hands, so i can accept that.

raising my two sunshine children.

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