WBW 2016: 5 tips for a strong nursing relationship while working away from home

wbw2016-logo-textEditor’s note: Among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals central to World Breastfeeding Week this year is a call for better workplace support of breastfeeding women. Certainly employers have a large part to play in meeting this goal, but women also need step up to advocate for themselves, their babies, and their right to express breastmilk while at work:

It’s that day…the dreaded day that no new mother wants to face — the last day of maternity leave.

For a mother able to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave afforded by the Family & Medical Leave Act, the last 3 months in baby bliss may instead feel like 3 short weeks, but regardless of the maternity leave length, the end of that special period arouses many emotions, especially for a nursing mother.

Naturally, a nursing mother’s mind becomes occupied with fears and questions:

  • How will I be able to provide enough milk while I am away?
  • What if my baby refuses a bottle?
  • Where will I find enough time to pump while I’m trying to work?
  • How will my boss and coworkers feel when I need time to pump?
  • What will happen to our nursing relationship?

This uncertainty creates even more stress and anxiety for the breastfeeding and working-away-from-home mother for she knows the important role breastfeeding plays in a secure attachment in addition to the numerous health benefits.

Mommy Kissing Baby LContinued nursing after the maternity leave period helps maintain a strong attachment between mother and baby. In his book, The Attachment Parenting Book, Dr. William Sears includes a chapter entitled “Working and Staying Attached,” in which he points out that giving your baby your milk is a very important way of staying attached to your baby after returning to work. Expressing milk for baby to drink during the day allows mother to, in a sense, be with baby while she is away at work. When mother and baby are reunited, their attachment through breastfeeding can resume as if she never left.

Nursing beyond maternity leave not only helps strengthen attachment but also provides numerous health benefits for the nursing mother and her nursling.  In 2012, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published their policy statement, “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk,” in Pediatrics. In this document, the AAP notes the numerous benefits of nursing, including those of nursing beyond 3-4 months. Some of these benefits for baby include a lower risk for developing serious colds, asthma, and other allergies; Sudden Infant Death Syndrome; and childhood and adult obesity. For the nursing mother, benefits include a lower risk of diabetes for mothers not diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a lower chance of arthritis, and breast and ovarian cancers. Essentially, the longer a mother can provide her baby with mother’s milk, the more health benefits received by both mother and baby.

In order to continue a secure attachment and experience the health benefits of breastfeeding, nursing mothers can maintain a strong nursing relationship while working away from home by following a few simple tips:

  1. Know your breastfeeding rights — Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, many U.S. employers must provide a nursing mother with break time and a place to pump for up to 1 year after the birth of her baby. It is to be noted that companies with less than 50 employees are exempt from this law and instead offer pumping breaks at the discretion of the employer. Information, along with instructions for filing a complaint, can be found through the United States Department of Labor. Many other countries have generous allowances for nursing mothers at work, so be sure to check with your nation’s laws.
  2. Plan a pumping schedule — This schedule will differ from mother to mother. Planning to nurse right before being separated from baby and as soon as mother and baby are reunited can help reduce the amount of pumping sessions needed at work. While at work, a mother should try to pump about every 3-4 hours. For a mom working an 8-hour shift, she might pump once in the morning, once during her lunch, and once in the afternoon. The idea is that for each time baby receives expressed milk from his or her care provider, mother is pumping. In doing this, mother should be able to pump the amount of milk that baby will consume the following day. Talk with a local breastfeeding specialist for a pumping schedule tailored to your work environment and other needs.
  3. Discuss needed accommodations with employer — When a mother meets with her employer, she should be prepared by knowing her legal rights. A working-away-from- home mother should inform her employer of the needed accommodations before returning to work. The employer may need some time to make changes in order to accommodate the nursing mother. When the mother meets with her employer, she should provide her employer with a copy of her nursing schedule. This may also include pumping space accommodations. For example, the room where milk will be expressed needs to have an easy-to-access electrical outlet and should be heated and cooled.
  4. Nurse on demand — Although a working mother must have a pumping schedule while at work, at home, she can nurse her baby on demand. Nursing on demand means that a nursing mother nurses when cued by the baby. This might be every 30 minutes or every 2 hours. Since how much milk produced is based on demand, a nursling can help increase a mother’s supply by nursing frequently. Nursing on demand also allows baby to re-establish the nursing bond that was missed during the day. Nursing on demand can continue during the night. Frequent night nursing may lead to reverse cycling, meaning the baby will nurse more frequently during the night than he or she does during the day. Some mothers who encourage reverse-cycling find that they don’t need to pump as much while at work during the day. For example, a baby may only drink 4-5 ounces of milk while his or her mother is at work, but the remaining amount of milk needed will be attained during the evening and all through the night. Essentially, in 24 hours, the baby will have consumed his or her total amount of milk needed.
  5. Get support — Most nursing mothers need support throughout the breastfeeding journey, and nursing mothers that work away from home are no exception. La Leche League International and other nonprofit organizations provide local and online opportunities for mothers to connect and support each other.

While the end of maternity leave marks a transitional period for mother and baby, a strong nursing relationship can be maintained by carefully preparing for this changed and remaining dedicated to the desire to nourish baby with mother’s milk.

Using TV as Sanity-Saving Tool

My kids are bugging me a bit today. Yes, I’ve said it: Every parent has moments when they’re discontent with their children. I think that’s important for everyone, especially parents who are new to Attachment Parenting or who are struggling at this moment, to remember – even the long-time, forever AP parents have their moments, or days, or weeks.

What are they doing? The usual kid stuff. Pulling all their toys out of their bedroom and then dilly-dallying when it’s clean-up time. Taking a bite out of an apple and then deciding they don’t want to eat it after all. Complaining that her sister got the fuller cup of juice. Eating a couple pieces of Easter candy and begging for more. Not using soap while hand-washing right after I’ve sent them back for a second try. Nothing extraordinary, and usually nothing that I can’t handle without a smile and patience and compassion. But today, it’s just not working for me…

Oh, I try not to let it show. But kids are perceptive, and I’m sure they notice. So, I’m taking a break.

Certainly, since I work from home, I can’t go too far. In fact, I’m still in the same room. I’m on my computer, writing this, and the girls are watching a movie from the signal we get from AAA Satellite TV. The baby is with me.

We don’t watch a lot of TV. I try to limit it to the evenings when my husband is home. Not only does this serve the original goals to reduce screen time, avoid inappropriate media, and increase imaginative free play, but when the kids do watch video with IPTV Streaming , they really value that time, and this way we can also save energy in the house with the best tips as well from the energieleveranciers vergelijken site online. So, I use TV to keep my kids occupied while I’m on conference calls that require more of my participation than listening…and on days like today when I need some me-time (well, me-and-baby-time since I don’t expose babies to direct viewing until about three years old). I prefer DVDs, because there are no commercials to monitor, and there is a definite end time.

Then, I take my me-time. Sometimes, I work on a project that really needs some undivided attention. Sometimes, like today, I write something purely for emotional release. Sometimes, I don’t work at all. I sit down to nurse, with a book and a glass of iced tea. If my husband’s home, I might take a bath or a nap. But I find that whatever I do that I’m in the mood for at the time will rejuvenate me. If I try to ignore that I need me-time or, alternately, I try to something that needs to be done but that I’m not in the mood for, like folding clothes or washing dishes, I only get more wound up and that’s when I’m in danger of losing it. Balance is so important for all moms, work-at-home parents, too – perhaps more so, sometimes, since we’re working on high-pressure deadlines while trying to maintain the slowness that it takes to raise children.

I, like any mother, put a lot of pressure on myself to be better, smarter, wiser… On one hand, what does that say about me that I use TV as a babysitter? On the other hand, should I care what other people think if it works for my family?

Wіth a world in economic meltdown аnd unсеrtаіntу built іntо every ѕtер we take, іt’ѕ no wоndеr we burу оurѕеlvеѕ more аnd more іntо thе суbеr wоrld оf HD television аnd соmрutеrѕ.

Shорріng mаllѕ аnd hіgh-ѕtrееtѕ are all but dеѕеrtеd уеt оnlіnе ѕаlеѕ are up. A grоwіng hunger fоr Hіgh dеfіnіtіоn vіеwіng іѕ driving demand fоr more аnd mоrе channels. Internet vіdео соntеnt is multiplying оut of control аnd іt аll соmеѕ down tо ѕрасе – whаt саn we dо about the bаndwіdth dilemma?

Yоu mау wеll hаvе nоtісеd thаt we live in a wоrld where impatience is thе nоrm, еvеn thеѕе dауѕ. Nоn оf us seem to be wіllіng tо wait fоr аnуthіng, ѕtаnd in line, оr tоlеrаtе anything thаt wе dееm tо be second best.

‘Wаіt fоr a week for mу nеw саr to be dеlіvеrеd? Fоrgеt іt! I’ll take that one оvеr thеrе…’ Wаіt fіftееn mіnutеѕ tо bе ѕеаtеd аt your fаvоurіtе restaurant? No thаnkѕ, wе’ll еаt elsewhere!
Don’t ѕhаkе уоur hеаd, I bet this ѕоundѕ lіkе уоu!

Anyway, саn you imagine the intense frustration оf saving uр аnd ѕреndіng оut оn thе latest аll ѕіngіng-аll dancing Hіgh Dеfіnіtіоn TV, оnlу tо find thаt thеrе are still vеrу fеw channels wіth thе сарасіtу tо brоаdсаѕt in HD!
(By thе wау, a wоrd tо the wary, іf уоu’vе never wаtсhеd HD TV – dоn’t! At lеаѕt nоt уеt, bесаuѕе doesn’t seem to bе аnу going back tо nоrmаl, grаіnу TV after your first experience wіthоut bеіng overcome with fееlіngѕ of іmmеnѕе frustration аnd lоѕѕ.)

So whаt’ѕ being dоnе by оur brоаdсаѕtеrѕ to provide more HD channels? Well, unfortunately, at the moment thеу can dо vеrу little. ‘Surеlу, уоu must rеаlіzе hоw much bandwidth іѕ tаkеn uр bу аn HD channel соmраrеd tо a rеgulаr сhаnnеl,’ thеу сrу. But dо уоu? Nо, probably not, we juѕt wаnt to wаtсh! Lеt’ѕ juѕt ѕау уоu соuld ѕԛuееzе three rеgulаr сhаnnеlѕ using thе same space tаkеn by thаt one big fаt HD channel – and this іѕ thе problem which has ѕо fаr lеft the brоаdсаѕtеrѕ ѕсrаtсhіng thеіr heads … at lеаѕt іt hаѕ untіl now.

Wе saw the launch еаrlіеr this year оf thе IBM CE 1000 server. A ѕеrvеr targeted directly at thе iptv server, video ѕtrеаmіng and broadcasting industry. A fеw dауѕ аgо HP аnnоunсеd раrtnеrѕhір wіth thе ѕаmе ѕуѕtеm able tо оffеr HD processing at an 80% ѕаvіng оn space. Don’t believe mе yet? Wеll both thеѕе nеw ѕеrvеrѕ wіll finally be аblе to lіvе uр tо the сlаіmѕ on the bоx because of a rеvоlutіоnаrу, new tесhnоlоgу саllеd CodecSys, from a little соmраnу саllеd Brоаdсаѕt Intеrnаtіоnаl Inс. (BCST.оb).

Thе рrоduсt lines wіll provide еnсоdіng аnd trаnѕсоdіng ѕоlutіоnѕ for worldwide brоаdсаѕt, cable, ѕаtеllіtе, IPTV, telco, wіrеlеѕѕ аnd streaming customers, as wеll as аррlісаtіоnѕ fоr business/enterprise communications, training and dіgіtаl ѕіgnаgе. For еxаmрlе, a tеlсо will bе аblе to dеlіvеr HDTV over DSL соnnесtіоnѕ, аnd, whеrе cable/satellite ореrаtоrѕ nоw hаvе оnе HD channel, they wіll bе аblе tо deliver six dіffеrеnt HD сhаnnеlѕ at thе same ԛuаlіtу – great stuff!

Sо hоw dоеѕ it wоrk? Well, rather thаn relying оn аnу ѕіnglе оf the latest codecs to trаnѕfоrm our vіеwіng рlеаѕurе, the CоdесSуѕ tесhnоlоgу uses a multі-Cоdес аррrоасh, еmрlоуіng a real-time аrtіfісіаl intelligence ѕуѕtеm to mаnаgе libraries оf ѕtаndаrd аnd ѕресіаlіzеd соdесѕ. Thіѕ fullу раtеntеd ѕуѕtеm dynamically сhаngеѕ соdесѕ or соdес settings – оn the flу – оn a ѕсеnе-bу-ѕсеnе or еvеn frаmе-bу-frаmе basis. And іt would seem thеrе are a multіtudе оf applications wаіtіng fоr this hоlу-grаіl technology that mау fіnаllу unlock the blockage іn оur bаndwіdth-hungrу аgе. It will allow a рlеthоrа оf соmраnіеѕ tо сrеаtе еxсеllеnt ԛuаlіtу vіdео аnd audio trаnѕmіѕѕіоn аt a frасtіоn of thе bandwidth thаt, untіl now, hаѕ bееn traditionally rеԛuіrеd.

As an аррlісаtіоn іtѕ future appears rich and vаrіеd, hоwеvеr, the boffins іn Brоаdсаѕt International hаvе firmly ѕеt thеіr ѕіghtѕ оn the vіdео streaming аnd broadcasting mаrkеt аѕ thе fіrѕt аrеа tо conquer, tеаmіng up wіth nо lеѕѕ thаn ‘Big bluе’ аnd HP.

Whіlе thеѕе ѕеrvеrѕ seem ѕеt tо turn the traditional ѕеrvеr market on іtѕ hеаd, thе CodecSys tесhnоlоgу wіll provide thе ultіmаtе, hіghеѕt ԛuаlіtу іn full-ѕсrееn, full-motion vіdео аt thе lowest роѕѕіblе bаndwіdthѕ аllоwіng thе brоаdсаѕtіng аnd vіdео ѕtrеаmіng іnduѕtrу tо fіnаllу expand along with consumer nееdѕ.

Working When I Should Be Sleeping

Most people I know are sleeping at 2 or 3 in the morning. If they’re awake, it’s because one of their children is, too, like a new baby needing milk or a preschooler retelling a bad dream. If their children are asleep, they are, too…usually.

Every one of us has probably experienced that uncharacteristic bit of insomnia that seems to occur when you most need your sleep, like the night before your child’s birthday party or a road trip where you’re the driver. Perhaps, you’ve been awake at this early morning hour when you’re watching the end of a great movie, or at least a movie that isn’t restricted to PG ratings. And I imagine most of us have been up in the middle of the night putting gifts under the Christmas tree or exchanging teeth under the pillow for money or putting candy in the Easter baskets – and perhaps enjoying some of that chocolate without the pressure to share.

For the most part, parents are likely sleeping during normal sleep hours, the majority of the nights of the year. Unless, like me, you have online jobs or you work from home. And then, I know I’m not the only one awake at 2 or 3 in the morning on a regular basis.

I’ve been working from home for the past six years, never a time without children at home, and I’ve come to value the time of day after everyone has gone to bed and is sound asleep. It is a wonderful time to get some work done, the only time of the day that I can be sure to work uninterrupted.

I’ve come to know a lot of fellow work-from-home parents in these odd hours. We all seem to share the same love of uninterrupted work time even at the expense of a full night’s rest – though, rest assured, we do get our sleep. There are plenty of challenges to working from home, but there are also plenty benefits and two are flexible hours and bed in the same building as the office.

Still, I am often surprised when I see another person online at night on the same continent as me. I don’t know how many times I’ve received an e-mail from a colleague at 2 a.m. and replied back with something like, “Wow, you’re up late! Go to bed.” It’s not until that person replies back with “So are you!” that I even realize the irony of my comment.

While I make the conscious decision to forgo my sleep at night in order to spend more of my day with my kids, it’s not an easy decision. I empathize with my fellow work-at-nighters. It is hard to stay balanced, no matter whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or you work outside the home or you work from home. Me time, sleep, and work often compete for the same time slots when the kids are sound asleep. And when you choose to work, you have to be especially careful to be sure to choose me time and sleep when you have the opportunity. Life becomes an even bigger juggling act. I’m often tempted, due to my reading the articles on sites like https://kratomystic.com/, I’ve learned that there are natural ways to get your self to sleep, even when you are stuck in your insomnia. Maybe when the kids are older I will experiment with stuff like that. For now though, I will stick to my routine.

I’m OK with the challenge. I like it, even. But I’ve been doing this for several years and it’s just the way my life is, by now. I don’t even think I can live a “normal” schedule anymore; I tried a little bit a couple years ago and was bored with the routine. I’m to the point where my brain is wired for this work-from-home life; I’m happiest with a full life of kids and work. But when I meet other parents working from home, I often wonder if they knew what they were getting themselves into?

This post is part of the delicate balance series, which chronicles the juggling act of work-at-home attachment parent Rita Brhel.

Mommy Has Testicles!

“I bet you didn’t know my mommy has testicles!”

I bet you didn’t see this one coming, I’m thinking, as my precocious four-year-old daughter, E, my second born, bounces up to the man who I was hoping to become a new client. A father himself, he’s been dabbling in selling vegetables from his home garden and is looking to expand this hobby into a side business by getting a professionally designed label. I’d barely charge him anything for it. He suggested trading it for a box of produce this summer and throwing in a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Sounds more than fair to me.

“Hey! I bet you didn’t know that my mommy has testicles!”

The man looks at me. I nod my head, and say, “Why yes, yes, I do.”

The man raises his eyebrows. E notices his confusion. She’s used to having to explain what she’s talking about, because not all of her consonants come out right. For example, her “c” and “st” sound like “t,” so that both “star” and “car” sound like “tar.” So, she starts explaining why Mommy does indeed have testicles.

“You know, those things that the tid has, that makes white things on the whales?” E asks.

I translate. By “tid,” she means “squid,” and by “white things,” she means “scars.” Squids grab hold of the whales in their mighty battles for life and death, and the squid’s arms have hooks on them that tear the whales’ skin, which leave scars after they heal.

“Tentacles?” the man asks.

“Yeah! Testicles!” E says excitedly.

Tentacles. Testicles. There’s only a couple letter differences there.

The man asks why I don’t correct her. I do, but “testicles” is easier for E to say than “tentacles.” She just learned the word, after all.

At home, we had looked up information on squids on the computer together – studying photos and watching YouTube videos, listening to me read aloud various facts about the squid, acting out underwater life in our family room. On the drive up to meet the man, we were imagining that we were a family of squids. I was using my tentacles to protect my three baby squids from the perils of the ocean, including whales. Certainly it’s easy for me to switch gears from playing with my kids to working, but to E, I was still Mommy Squid even when talking about making a food label.

This post is part of the “Delicate Balance” series, which chronicles the juggling act of work-at-home attachment parent Rita Brhel.

Can You Please Retrieve My Bagel From Under the Bed?

rita and kids

I don’t normally eat anything found under my bed. The vacuum cleaner can only reach so far. I also have two house cats, and that’s where they go to get a little R-and-R from my three kids. Plus I do have a kitchen stocked full with food found in usual places like the fridge or pantry. But since going gluten-free this winter for medical reasons, it’s not often I get a chance to eat a beautifully soft bagel mounded with cream cheese spread. And I really wanted that bagel.

Losing the bagel – sunny side down, mind you – to the depths reminded me of a great disappointment a few months earlier. I had just left the doors of Burger King with my three children, a baby in a car seat and two girls, ages four and five, and in the crux of my arm balanced a refill of Dr. Pepper that I was really looking forward to drinking. It was a little breezy, and the older children were tired, and the parking lot seemed to be especially busy. When I got to the car, I put the drink cup on the hood and began the process of getting the car seat into its base and the older children into their booster seats. Triumphant with how smoothly things seemed to be going, I reached for the drink cup – when suddenly, a gust of wind shot it off the car and my longed-after Dr. Pepper dumped all over the ground. I was so disheartened that I didn’t even think of going through the drive-thru to get another one.

So, yes, I wanted that bagel. I didn’t want a repeat Dr. Pepper episode.

How did that bagel get under the bed, cream cheese side down, stuck in the dust bunnies and cat hair? Well, I was doing one of my infamous multitasking attempts. I was breastfeeding my baby while sitting on my bed, using the breast pump on the other breast (due to chronic yeast), talking on the phone with a client, sketching out an idea for a project with a pen and notepad, and eating this bagel – at the same time. The baby is at that age where anything within reach is in danger and he batted at the bagel. It dropped to the floor and rolled under the bed. I couldn’t express my dismay more than grimacing a little, because I was still on the phone. And I couldn’t attempt to get the bagel before the 30-second rule, because I was still tethered to the breast pump.

My husband didn’t even blink when I asked him to please retrieve my bagel from under the bed, like I do this kind of stuff all the time…

This post is part of the “Delicate Balance” series, which chronicles the juggling act of work-at-home attachment parent Rita Brhel.

AP on the Road

Heading to Chicago, Summer 2010. (Flying as a lap child - enjoying a few minutes in an empty seat during boarding!)

My 22-month old daughter zooms around the living room like an airplane, making whooshing noises. “Mama!” she says, “Whoosh!”

“That’s right, honey, Mama’s getting on an airplane soon. But I’ll be back in two days, OK?”

“Uh-huh,” she smiles, and hugs my leg tight. She knows I’ll come home, and that I’ll miss her terribly while I’m gone – we’ve done this before.

I think there are sometimes misconceptions about how feasible attachment parenting is for working parents, or in my case, a working and traveling mama. But for my family, AP has been nothing short of essential to maintaining a strong relationship with my daughter and organizing our family’s priorities.

I work from home and travel in the U.S. and abroad to visit clients. In many ways it’s an ideal arrangement – when I’m not on the road, I can be at home with my daughter during the day, every day. But the travel… well, after Ruby was born, I dreaded the day I’d have to get back on the road.

My husband and I talked a lot about how we wanted to handle it. We ultimately felt that our daughter was too young to be away from me that first year. Nursing in particular was non-negotiable for us. I hated pumping (crazy respect for all of you who do!) and worried about my supply dipping during separations. My daughter never took a bottle (we never really tried), so in some ways that was our excuse to haul her along.

So haul we did. When Ruby was six months old, I started traveling again on a limited schedule. Bless his heart, since our daughter was born, my husband has used every minute of his hard-earned vacation to travel with Ruby and me on work trips. None of it was easy, and most of the time, it wasn’t even very fun.

“This is our priority right now,” we’d repeat to each other, when the packing, flying, hotel food, exhaustion and 1 a.m. hotel fire alarms (yes, this has happened more than once…) started to get to us. “Someday it will be different, but this is what we need to do for our family.”

At conferences and client meetings, I would race back and forth to our hotel room every two hours to nurse Ruby before my next event. I was stressed to the max trying simultaneously to be mama-me and professional-me. And though he loved the time with our daughter, trying to maintain sanity in tiny hotel rooms with a baby wasn’t exactly easy for my husband either.

But all the chaos has been worth it. Because we co-sleep, even at conferences and meetings where I hardly saw her during the day, at night my daughter would snuggle up against my side, tucking her fingers and toes under my body, and make up for not nursing during the day as much as she might have at home. Though I do work a full-time job requiring a fair amount of time away, I wasn’t away from my baby overnight until she was 18 months old. Our nursing relationship is STILL going strong as we close in on her second birthday.

I do travel without her most of the time now, though we try to go together if there are too many trips in close proximity to each other. She’s at an age where she mostly does better with keeping her routine and her surroundings at home, even though she misses nursing and misses me. I just pump for comfort while I’m away, because it doesn’t really matter if my supply dips. She still co-sleeps with my husband when I’m gone, which reinforces their bond and the centrality of his role in her life.

I am also appreciative that all our running around when she was tiny made my daughter a great traveler. She’s been to a dozen states and overseas. She is comfortable in new places. She loves flying. I think what she learned through all our mobility is that home is where the three of us are, not just in our house or our town. Home is the family bed and the comfort of nursing, wherever they might be located.

All this is to say that I am a firm believer in AP even for, and maybe especially for, working parents. While some see AP as a constant physical connection, what AP has helped us create is an unbreakable emotional bond that withstands even physical separations.

What about you? How important do you feel AP is to you as a working parent?

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